In a stunning reversal of history, the Texas State Board of Education has ruled that the history of the past 2,000 years never took place.
They are considering a resolution that would warn publishers not to push “gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions” in world history textbooks. These text books are full of “Muslim propaganda.”
Because as any of us who actually attended public schools or have children attending public schools are aware, this pro-Islamic bias is a real problem.
The more likely explanation is that conservative Christians are miffed that text books no longer contain “gross pro-Christian, anti-Islamic distortions.”
In a breath-taking display of paranoia and xenophobia, these folks argue that “Middle-Easterners” are infiltrating the textbook market. And terrorists are crossing the Arizona border with their anuses stuffed with explosives.
I mean, what’s a gun-toting, god-fearing white Christian real-American to do?
Re-write history, that’s what!
What kind of world do these folks want to live in? I would say that taken on the whole, evidence suggests a return to the 13th century, when values were values and women and minorities ran scared.
But let’s not let rational thought enter into our discourse. We were talking about the Texas State Board of Education, after all.
Remember back in May of 2010 when the Texas State Board of Education by a 10-5 partisan vote embraced new high school textbook standards? Remember dentist Don McLeroy’s attack on the Enlightenment, how those nasty liberals erased Christian mythology from our system of education? “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left,” he cried.
And who would know more about a skewed Academia than a dentist?
As the New York Times reported, the new standards
[P]ut a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
Back then it was enough to erase U.S. history. But it turned out that getting rid of Thomas Jefferson and Darwin and the pesky ideas of evolution that make sense of human biology and re-writing American history wasn’t enough. What world history survived the first massacre has to go too.
Those gosh-darn Muslims deserve more blame for the Crusades!
Harry Turtledove, the universally recognized don of alternate history, could not have done a better job.
“More such discriminatory treatment of religion may occur as Middle Easterners buy into the U.S. public school textbook oligopoly, as they are doing now.”
As is so often the case (and as I argued the other day), they offer no evidence for this fear-inspiring thesis. And as the Dallas Morning News reports,
The resolution cites examples in past world history books – no longer used in Texas schools – that devoted far more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than to Christian beliefs and practices.
The measure is not without its opponents, as the Dallas Morning News tells us:
“This is another example of board members putting politics ahead of just educating our kids,” said Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network. “Once again, without consulting any real experts, the board’s politicians are manufacturing a bogus controversy.”
I would say not just politics but ideology. The bogus controversy can’t exist without the bogus history conservative Christians have constructed, and the bogus history is tied into hate and intolerance and a need to justify it.
But then the 13th century was all about hate and fear and crusades and hate and killing people who were different from you. Those dark days have become a Golden Age for the folks who think the Middle Ages were the “true Age of Reason.”
I hate to break it to Mr. McLeroy and his supporters but you can’t vote unpleasant facts out of existence. The Church tried for centuries; the Nazis and Communists tried too, just as the Islamists are trying now.
You can’t wish 2000 years of history away; the facts will always come back to haunt you.
Nobody is denying, I believe, that there are not biases or inaccuracies in school textbooks. After all, how many of us were brought up to believe that George Washington chopped down a Cherry tree? (Unfortunately, some Republicans believe this actually happened and that as a consequence we know more about Washington’s childhood than Obama’s).
But arguments ought to be about facts not about ideology. And attacking books that haven’t been in use since 2003 makes the whole argument all the more ridiculous.
The matter will be decided in Austin next week (September 23-24), when the board votes on the resolution. Will world history survive? Will the Texas Board of Education turn back the clock on the European Enlightenment and cast Texas public school students (some 4.8 million of them according to the May resolution) into a new Dark Age? Stay tuned to find out.