Update on Friday, September 24
True to form, the Texas Board of Education today approved a resolution, by a narrow 7-6 vote, requiring publishers to correct a “pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias” in future world history textbooks. Still, given that all the textbooks cited in the resolution have not been in use in Texas schools since 2003, this seems more like an exercise in rhetoric.
Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, summed it up this way, “Board members rejected numerous opportunities today to pass a resolution that called on publishers to treat all religions with balance and accuracy in their textbooks. It is hard not to conclude that the members who voted for this resolution were solely interested in playing on fear and bigotry in order to pit Christians against Muslims.”
Friday, September 17
Just when it seemed the Texas Board of Education had done enough damage this year, they are considering a resolution next week that would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks.
A reminder: earlier this year this same board approved a social studies curriculum that puts a conservative stamp on history by stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a separation of church and state, discounting almost all non-caucasian contributions to history, and generally presenting Republican political philosophies in a very positive light.
Texas Textbook Wars Resume
Apparently, that wasn’t enough. According to board member Ken Mercer, many world history books are rife with Muslim propaganda. “One of the books I reviewed has 120 lines referencing Christian beliefs, but has 248 lines referencing Muslim beliefs,” Mercer told WOIA News Radio. Could this be because Texas students probably know a good deal more about Christianity than they do about the Islam faith?
But it turns out that this example is in any case taken from a past world history book, that is no longer used in Texas schools. In fact, none of the textbooks cited by sponsors of the resolution are currently being used in Texas schools. “This is another example of board members putting politics ahead of just educating our kids,” says Kathy Miller of the Texas Freedom Network, a religious freedom group. “Once again, without consulting any real experts, the board’s politicians are manufacturing a bogus controversy.”
Middle Easterners Peddling Influence on U.S. Textbooks?
This is much bigger than a mere controversy. This is outright hate-mongering. And there’s more: sponsors of the resolution cautioned that “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 the Dallas Morning News pointed out, “They offered no specific evidence of such investments.” But why not stir up feelings against Muslims and the entire Middle East, while you’re at it?
Indoctrinating our young people is just another form of the anti-Muslim bigotry we’ve been seeing a lot of lately. And it’s also odd for me to understand; I was taught at school that there are three great monotheistic religions, and these are the “real” faiths: Christianity, Judaism and Islam, all equal. What happened?
Disheartening as it is to read such small-minded and biased comments from people in a position to have so much influence over young people, it is also frightening because the board has succeeded once before, and decisions made in Texas can influence textbooks around the country, given the size of the state.
The board will vote on this resolution next week.
On a lighter note: Wait until the board realizes we use Arabic numerals. Perhaps they will propose a resolution to revert to Roman numerals?
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