Revisionist History 101: Texas Edition

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The mistake that most intelligent people make is failing to factor into their logic the transitory nature of almost everything we encounter during our brief sojourn on the face of the earth. An Indian Rajah once asked his wise man for an answer to all the thorny problems that constantly plagued him, to which the wise man responded, "And this too will pass." This is not just true of our problems, but it is also true for the wealth of human knowledge that countless generations of homo sapiens have acquired since the dawn of their existence in Africa about 1 million years ago.

The reason it took us so long to arrive at our present level of civilization has been the constant tug-of-war between those among us that see man's journey for enlightenment as never ending and those that have great difficulty in forever examining and redefining the human condition. Although the ancient Egyptians knew that the world was round and even had developed the conceptual reality and math to calculate the circumference of the earth, Galileo's subsequent championing of the Copernicanism view of a heliocentric (solar system) world in 1610 almost cost him his life. In recanting his belief to save his life from the inquisition, Galileo probably drew solace from the fact that his realization was not a theory, but rather empirically verifiable and would ultimately triumph.



An excellent example of the process employed by the Texas school board in choosing books and setting curriculum can be seen in how this board decided to ban a 12 page children's book entitled Brown Bear, Brown Bear. Controversy over this book for 4-year olds arose when the board was inappropriately considering it for use in the 3rd grade. "One board member discovered that its author happened to also have written a treatise called Ethical Marxism." The problem: The Bill Martin who wrote Ethical Marxism in 2008 is not the same Bill Martin who wrote the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear. In fact, it would've been impossible for Bill Martin of Brown Bear fame to have written a treatise on Marxism in 2008 since, the Bill Martin of Marxism fame is a professor at DePaul University in Chicago and, the Bill Martin of Brown Bear fame died in 2004. Was nobody on the Texas Board of Education capable of doing a simple Google search to uncover this obvious discrepancy?

Here are some of the proposed changes that the Texas school board is likely to have in there final curriculum and books choices. Keep in mind that as the third largest purchaser of textbooks in the United States, these choice will undoubtedly effect what other students outside of Texas will have in their textbooks, because textbook publishers have always been unwilling to print any textbook if such a large market as Texas would not buy them:

The replacing of "capitalism" with "free-enterprise system"

It seems that the expression "capitalist pig" has soured the Texas School Board on the term capitalism, which they have replaced with free-enterprise system. Like Professor Noam Chomsky, I find this term to be more inaccurate and misleading, because the system we have in this country makes corporate well-being dependent on favorable governmental policies -- which these corporations control. There is nothing "free" about these manipulated markets that put the corporate well being of the political patrons of both the Democratic and Republican Parties above the interests of their citizen constituencies, whose well being is rarely if ever addressed.

The inclusion of Milton Friedman and Friedrich Von Hayek among economic luminaries

After the 2008 meltdown of the American/world economies, the failed laissez-faire supply side system that Friedman himself now questions, makes them something less than "luminaries" to be cited in a history book.

The addition of Black Panther agitation in the era of civil rights


While Martin Luther King and the Black Panther Party took very different approaches to the open wound of civil injustice in this society, clearly the image of the Black Panther Party standing up to the previously unchallenged brutality of urban police forces like those in Oakland was a marked deviation from prior negro passivity. While flawed as any other group pushing for change, the Panthers were part of the historic change that didn't ask with hat in hand like Dr. Martin Luther King, but demanded it.. 

The inclusion of congressional vote-tallies on Civil Rights legislation


The purpose of including these tallies and those that gave women the right to vote in 1920 is to maintain white male hegemony over who really controls and gives rights to us as Americans. This absence of acknowledgment that the belated recognition of civil rights for non-whites and women was really the final realization of what our Founding Fathers promised when they posited the then controversial idea that "All men are created equal" -- women and Blacks included.
 
The balancing of Darwinian theory with Creationism

While the Left and Right in this country have always argued over whose perception of what America is and what it should be has always contended, it is hard to argue with people who deny reality or make up one out of the whole clothe. While Darwinian evolution is a theory, fossil record and radioactive carbon dating are not. But for people that think "Jesus wrote the constitution" and who don't want the federal government "Messing with my Medicare," one has difficulty in knowing how to deal with people who are not fettered by rational thought.

The inclusion of the conservative resurgence of the 80s and 90s: Phyllis Schlafly, the Moral Majority, the Heritage Foundation, and the Contract With America

This is one inclusion I would probably be for, because as a social studies teacher I think the present textbooks have always made me wonder why we haven't evolved as a society beyond where we are, if Americans are such a great people without the foibles that plague other countries. However, the rewriting of these episodes of our history like the McCarthy Era of the early 1950s is reminiscent of how pre-Nazi Germany sanitized its own history to justify totalitarianism, while vilifying some elements of its society.

The teaching of the importance of personal responsibility

Nothing wrong with that. It's just a shame that these folks notion of personal responsibility doesn't include their own often cited biblical quotations like, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Clarification on "separation of church and state" as intended by the Founders


In "clarification" of the Founding Fathers views on separation of church and state, the Texas Board of Education had no problem with reconfiguring and omitting some of the beliefs of Jefferson, Madison, and Washington while completely excising those of others during the founding of this country that did not share their narrow view as to who we are as a people.

There is a certain exquisite logic to the fundamentalist beliefs that deny reality in the setting of Texas curriculum and textbooks. One wonders if they will ultimately succeed at the End of Days in floating up to heaven by denying the existence of gravity.

6 Comments

I have a serious question about you're article. How is it possible that a guy that died in 1992 and another that died in 2006 be "Rethinking" an economic debacle that happened in 2008 after they were already dead?????? This is AN EPIC FAIL, and you should feel bad.

Here again, I hope and pray it is not too late for our country. We the People who fear and are concerned for the future of our country have one chance, and one chance only to save our country: 2010.

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Please feel free to repost and thank you for linking back to perdaily.

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worthyone, there are weeks I wonderabout it too.

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