The backward, closed mind is the same everywhere
You should care — a lot — about what’s going on in Texas. The decisions reached by the state BOE (Board of Education) concerning what should, and should not be, in the textbooks used in its public school classrooms also decide, to an extraordinary extent, what will be in the textbooks of 48 other states. PHOTO: The benighted Lone Star State Board of Ed.
By Ed Tubbs [print_link] _______________________
The rewriting of history and science to reflect the far-Right agendas of the board’s membership are just some of the far-Right orientations the board agreed to recently. (“Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change” click here;emc=th) The board insisted that references to Margaret Sanger be included because “she promoted eugenics.” Also insisted upon was language that would tout Ronald Reagan’s “leadership in restoring national confidence,” following, as it did on Jimmy Carter’s weaknesses. Also to be included as essay assignments for Texas students, “describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
The board also required consideration the contributions of “great Americans” that included Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, and William F. Buckley Jr., and that students were to compose essays noting the contributions of these Americans. Diminished to the maximum extent achievable were positive references to Thomas Jefferson, because of his Deist proposition there ought to be a “wall of separation between church and state;” a proposition the Texas board members cannot abide. (click here;emc=th) What the board intentionally dismissed out of hand, as role models for the state’s large Hispanic population, were the historic contributions of Latino figures. (Personal note: In the past I have read Texas, by James Michener, T.R. Fehrenbach’s Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans, and H.E. Bolton’sTexas in the Middle-Eighteenth Century.) What the board is attempting is nothing short of historic genocide.
The last sentence of the above paragraph is the arrow to the heart of the matter. There are two ways to tell a lie. One is to tell it. The other is to deliberately not tell the truth. What Republicans/conservatives are attempting to do, and in large measure succeeding at, is the BIG LIE, getting Americans to accept it, and striving to inculcate it into the fiber of our youth as the truth. Bent don’t matter none to these far-Right political proselytizers.
On Wednesday, March 10th, the House debated H.Con.Res. 248; Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan. Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), SECTION 1. REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM AFGHANISTAN. Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544 (c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United states Armed forces from Afghanistan — PHOTO (Right): Gail Lowe, the SBOE’s obscurantist chair.
(1) by no later than the end of the period of 30 days beginning on the day on which this concurrent resolution is adopted; or
(2) if the President determines that it is no safe to remove the United States Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2010, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed forces can safely be removed.
The last speaker on the issue was Rhode Island’s US Representative Patrick Kennedy. (View the proceedings at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/220880 ) The Rhode Islander’s excoriating diatribe included, “Finally, if anyone wants to know where cynicism is, cynicism is where there (points at the overhead gallery) are one, two press people in this gallery. (Continuing to jab furiously into the gallery.) We’re talking about Eric Massa, 24/7 on the TV, and we’re talking about war and peace, three billion dollars and 1,000 lives, and no press. No Press! (More arm waving and jabbing to the gallery) You want to know why the American people are ticked, they’re ticked because they’re not seeing their congress doing the work that they’re sent here to do. It’s because of the press, the press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that’s the laying of lives down in the service of our country. It’s despicable: the national press corps!”
Kennedy is one hundred percent correct concerning the miserable state of news coverage in the United States. Like it or not, it is a major player in the Big Lie, and the way to tell it that I mentioned above. For example, not a single word about what the Texas BOE was up to, and how it would affect most of America’s youth, found an opening into the stories on any of the news networks; ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC . . . Just the same, however easy, however convenient it might be to blame the media for this country’s astounding and tragic for a democracy level of near total ignorance, it’s also not entirely true.
Each of us has a concomitant citizenship responsibility to want what may be discomfiting, what may require more than a nanosecond to digest, what may not be titillating, what may not entertain us. But, by and large, we don’t want any of those things. We want simple. We want silly. We want the stories about Jay and Dave and Conan, about Tiger Woods, about some murder a thousand miles away. About anything that avoids actual thinking about what the story is actually about. “Tell me again that I’m really beautiful,” the baby warthog begged its mother.
There exists no more exquisite example of competition-driven, free-market enterprise than the major televised electronic media, and no better example of solid business acumen than Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox. If folks wanted better than they were getting from Fox, or any of the others, they’d get it. The fact the vast majority of Americans cling tenaciously to Fox and its counterparts is evidence on the table they not only want exactly what they’re getting, they want more of the same. The moment sufficient numbers tune into PBS is the moment they’ll begin to get it.
I grew up in Allen Park, Michigan, next door to Dearborn, the home of Ford Motor. Like Dearborn, but about a third its population, it was an all very white suburb just a handful of miles from Tiger Stadium in Detroit. In the fall of 1951, I began Kindergarten at Lapham Elementary School and graduated in June of 1964 at Allen Park High.
Through the entirety of these 13 years not one mention was made of the fact that, under Andrew Jackson, murderous genocide was official United States policy; the
Trail of Tears that removed from the southeastern states four native peoples and force-marched them to the Oklahoma Territory. Thousands perished along the tortuous route, the military escort not even permitting burial of the children and the old who died along the way, leaving the corpses to rot and become carrion for the scavenging birds, insects and other wild mammals. Remember the mantra, “the only good Injun is a dead Injun”? I do. Every Saturday cowboys and Indians matinee at the local movie house.
However we learned about slavery, we learned of it almost as an outlined abstract construct; denuded of its genuine moral depravity and human suffering — something akin to the sterile dissection of an earthworm or frog in a 9th or 10th grade biology class. “This class, is the tongue, the glottis, small intestine, and slavery is bad because no one should own another human being.” Say, human being, being a condition the South discovered, like Columbus discovering the New World, rather late, while also conveniently ignoring altogether every preexisting truth its earlier habitation destroyed utterly every allegation it had been “discovered” by Columbus.
We also learned about the Panama Canal, but not the fact that to construct it, the US deconstructed (overthrew) an entire country, Columbia, in order to do so. Never was a question entertained, whether this country had a right to overthrow another nation’s government, to secure a sought commercial and military advantage. It was the age of Manifest Destiny; our god-given right, to be interpreted as “God was on our side,” . . . to do just about anything we wanted.
As to Manzanar, and our unquestioned policy of taking an entire population of native born United States citizens and incarcerating them in concentration camps, behind barbed wire fences and under the watchful eye of armed soldiers in elevated guard towers . . . because they were not Caucasians, because they were Japanese (Who owned some of the most prime farming land in California; farming land that was eyed jealously by US multi-national corporations) . . . not one single word in any history textbook.
As with the shame of genocide, actual — actual, as with as-raw-as-any-ugly-sin can be — slavery, as with as morally desicated a policy of overthrowing someone else’s government, as with the corporate theft of land in California . . . to class of “64 Allen Park students, none of that very much happened. It didn’t because it was in none of our textbooks.
So, who are these educational experts, deciding what will be in the textbooks that more than half of America’s school children learn from? The list is composed of clowns. But, if clowns are supposed to be funny, this group is Freddy Krugerish terrifying.
- Gail Lowe, chair of the Texas Board of Education, an arch-conservative Republican from Lampasas, a newspaper editor, and a strident, unapologetic Creationist, an anti-evolutionist who strongly opposes any theory that doesn’t strictly align with Genesis. (http://www.teachthemscience.org/texas/sboe#lowe)
- Dr. Don McLeroy, DDS, conservative Creationist Republican from Bryan-College Station who gleefully challenged, “”Somebody’s gotta stand up to [these] experts!” (Listen to McLeroy’s sermon, “Primer on Intelligent Design” at click here)
- David Bradley, a conservative Republican from Beaumont, a licensed real estate and insurance salesman with no college degree who has said, “This critical-thinking stuff is gobbledygook.”
- Peter Marshall, a Massachusetts-based preacher who has argued that California wildfires and Hurricane Katrina were God’s punishment for tolerating gays.
- David Barton, former vice chairman of the Texas Republican Party; has a bachelor’s degree in religious education from Oral Roberts University; argues that the Founding Father principle there should be a wall of separation between church and state is a myth.
- Barbara Cargill, self-described ultra-conservative Republican who earned her undergraduate degree at Baylor University, the private Baptist college at Waco, has contradicted the world’s leading astronomers with her own observation, “The universe is not expanding.”
- Terri Leo, a hard-Right Republican and past volunteer delegate for George W. Bush, a supporter of Bill Archer and Dick Armey, and a member of the Daughters of Liberty Republican Women’s Club and a charter member of the Texas Tea Party Republican Women’s Club. (http://texasgopvote.com/users/terri-leo)
- Ken Mercer, Vice-Chair on the Texas BOE Committee on Instruction, is a solid, take-no-prisoners Creationist Republican from San Antonio. (click here ) In 2009, Mr. Mercer worked to have tossed from Texas two 6th-grade math text books, Everyday Math and Connected Math, on the charge they “established New Age religious behavior in public school math instruction.” (Italic emphasis is the original) And in an attack on more moderate Republicans on the board who opposed his Creationist aggenda, Mercer wrote: “I pray for my three friends, Pat Hardy of Ft. Worth , Bob Craig of Lubbock, and Geraldine “Tincy’ Miller of Dallas. They voted against the Republican Party platform and allowed themselves to be constantly lobbied by prominent atheists and secular humanists.”
And with all the preceding noted and annotated you yet disclaim any personal interest in what goes on in Texas? Just one more time: There are two ways to tell a lie. One is to tell it. The other is to deliberately not tell the truth. When your son or daughter, or grandchild comes home from school repeating nonsense, or grows to an adult voting according to it . . . Too late then, my friend. Too late.
Sunday, March 14. According to Politics Daily, not only has the Texas board decided on the above radical — used here both colloquially and in the mathematics senses of the term — abuse of what ought to be the task of educating our youth so they can become well-versed, independent thinking citizens, toward the end of satisfying their far-Right evangelical agenda, they have “deleted Albert Einstein and Thomas Alva Edison from textbooks.”
Towards more effective impact let me bring two of the board’s decisions into juxtaposition: They want public school students to better grasp an appreciation of the contributions of Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich and William F. Buckley, Jr. but have deleted references to Albert Einstein and Thomas Edison?????
PS: What I failed to note adequately that may confuse
Three states, by the sheer weight of their populations, dominate public school textbook publishing: Texas, California and New York. However the smaller states may prefer to write their own, the publishing costs, including distribution, are so prohibitive that, per the article sources cited, they are forced to employ those written for and primarily by Texas. What that boils down to is that perhaps half of America’s school children study from Texas books!
EVERYONE needs to care, not just those with children/grandchildren in Texas
An “Old Army Vet” and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: “He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity.”