A Pyrrhic Victory For Kansas

KANSAS CITY, Mo.--On the day of the Republican primary in Kansas, my cousin adamantly ushered his wife out of the house with stern instructions: "You will vote against Linda Holloway."

Last year, Holloway and five other conservatives on the Kansas school board voted to downplay evolution in the state's science standards. All over the globe and on "The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart, the world alternated between laughter and outrage. Kansas was made to look stupid. Very stupid.

So, early this month, my cousin's wife, like many other voters in the state of Kansas, rushed to the polls. It was time to redeem our state. And when moderates defeated Holloway and two of the other six conservative school board members who cast the controversial votes against evolution, much of the world breathed a sigh of relief.

On TV, in the newspapers and throughout homes all over the country, there is a feeling that order and reason have been restored to the Midwest. No matter who wins in this fall's general elections, the candidates promise that evolution will be reinstated in its full form to Kansas classrooms. It was a triumph for the mainstream.

But although the embarrassment is gone, all is not happily ever after in the state of Kansas. We haven't seen the last of the conservatives, I guarantee. The situation was mishandled, many of the details blown out of proportion.

A lot went wrong last year. But the controversy was both smaller and larger than the world made it seem.

In the beginning, contrary to preliminary reports by some major news organizations, Kansas school board members did not outlaw evolution. Nor did they erase all traces of the subject from state science standards.

Instead, they voted to de-emphasize the role evolution would play. They were okay with the concept of microevolution, changes that occur within a gene pool of a species of plants or animals. That was left alone.