Legislating new “truth” into your kids’ education

Texas’ State Board of Education approved a landmark resolution nearly two years ago forcing textbooks to distort the truth of our nation’s history.  Among the many conservative-inspired pieces of propaganda were minimizing slavery as part of our history, watering down the civil rights struggle and suggesting that Christianity (and not religious freedom) played a larger role in our country’s founding.  The conservatives have since bragged about being “proud” to challenge the “left-leaning” textbooks that were currently in use; you know, the ones that were correct.

As angry as I was, I was somewhat pacified by the fact that this wasn’t a trend.  Most Republican legislators seemed to be more focused on declaring pizza a vegetable or disenfranchising college students, leaving the miseducation of our youth for another day.  Sadly, another day has come and another state wants to legislate lies in their students’ textbooks.

Tennessee tea party activists have outlined and presented five goals to their state legislature, one of which would require the state to remove from textbooks any passages which cite minority experiences which “obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers.”  In other words, the residents are trying to get our history of slave ownership and Native American displacement, two of early America’s most well-researched and agreed upon topics, completely removed from the state education curriculum.

(There has been textbook-related legislation on the west coast as well, with California requiring that educators not exclude LGBT figures from their lessons.  Of course, in this case, there is not a requirement to rewrite history; this passage merely reinforces that we’re all equals in this country and the civil rights struggle applies to all minorities.  Not surprisingly, Republicans are trying to get it overturned.)  

It’s no secret that the nation is divided along political lines moreso than at nearly any time in our 230+ year history.  The vitriol has been consistent and damaging to freedom and to civil discourse.  One of the staples of the right has been anti-intellectualism, a belief that smart is bad and idiots should rule the world.  I wish I was kidding.  Indeed, a recent study shows that being right-wing is a sign of lower intelligence and higher incidence of racism.  We heard often of the “elitist” problem during the 2008 presidential elections wherein it was determined that Barack Obama used big boy words and spoke in complete thoughts, so he was clearly a bad choice for president compared to dimwitted predecessor George W. Bush.

Ignorance is the refuge of the Republican party.  Don’t study evolution, just blindly believe in the creationism.  Don’t regulate the environment, just let everything work itself out.  College?  College is for liberals.  We’re just fine doing our learning in church, thank you very much.

But when is it too much?  When do we need to step back, take a deep breath, and decide that we need to stop the madness?  We let them write their letters to the editor about how they incorrectly wish the past really happened, but letting them put it in textbooks and lying to our kids, trashing our history, deleting the mistakes we’ve learned so much from?

Ted Kaczynski opined that leftists fight for “all the causes” because they’re filled with guilt and low self-esteem. Ted, much like other conservatives, confuses guilt with empathy.  I don’t feel any personal guilt for the black man in New York that keeps getting frisked by the cops for no reason, but I do feel a great deal of pain for how his rights are so consistently being violated.  Anyone who doesn’t feel compassion for what this man has endured is a textbook sociopath (until the word is redefined in next year’s Texas edition).  These are not the people we want teaching our children.

It boils down to this:  There’s a segment of the population that likes to pretend global climate change is some hoax perpetrated upon us by the “liberal” scientists.  Their proof, of course, is that… well, they have none, but they’re the people of God, so they’re right, dammit.  Not only do they lack any proof, but they reject consistent and unquestionable proof from actual scientists, relying instead on ignorant personal opinions based in nothing but political bias.  And now they’re attacking our textbooks.

We can’t let this stand.  The history of this nation cannot be rewritten.  Do you want to know why?  I’ll let Zach de la Rocha play us out…

Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now controls the past
Who controls the past now controls the future
Who controls the present now?