The gallons of irony contained in a recent story from One News Now is so astonishing it nearly took my breath away. The astonishment and irony begin as soon as one reads the story’s title:
I agree with that statement. There’s not much more in this story with which I agree, so I figure I’ll start positively and work from there.
A California bill opposing Christian ideals in social studies textbooks has passed a 6-2 vote and is making its way into the Senate.
The Senate Appropriations Committee voted last week in favor of S.B. 1451, a measure that will combat the religious revisions to textbooks launched in Texas earlier this year. The bill now heads to the full Senate.
This is great news and gives me hope that there are at least a few sane people governing the USA.
Introduced by California Democratic Senator Leland Yee, the bill would require any information about Texas’ revisions to be reported to the legislature and the secretary of education. S.B. 1451 also calls the modifications “a threat to the apolitical nature of public school governance and academic content standards in California” and would expect the California Board of Education to review social studies textbooks.
Anyone who thinks that public schooling in the USA has ever been apolitical has never gone to public school in this county. Or they’ve drunk deeply of the Kool-Aid and are still functioning under its influence. Public school education in the USA, as in other countries, has always been about grooming children to be good citizens, an aim that is inherently political. In the American context, partisanship between accepted alternatives, i.e., Democratic and Republican parties, has been minimized, but it would be foolhardy to think that some partisanship doesn’t exist. When I was in public school, I was taught that everything about the Soviet Union was inferior to everything about the USA, that Soviets were the Bad Guys and Americans were the Good Guys – all the time. We were always right, and we always did the right thing in the right way, while the Soviets were always wrong and they always did the wrong thing in the wrong way. Having said all that, I agree that the recent curriculum changes that have been mandated in Texas are bad for any students who will be unfortunate enough to be
exposed to indoctrinated into them. Apparently, enough state legislators in California agree with me to have taken action to address the situation:
The measure states that the revisions to Texas’ textbooks were propelled by an “inappropriate ideological desire to influence academic content standards for children in public schools” and that they were a departure from accepted history.
Yes! Someone had the guts to call a spade a spade. The changes in Texas are about a specific religious ideology, not fact or truth; they are about revising and re-writing history and, consequently, can’t be anything but “a departure from accepted history.”
Randy Thomasson, a conservative activist and president of SaveCalifornia.com, believes the regulation is unnecessary. Although he is advocating changes in California’s schools, he contends that the state “doesn’t need to ‘protect’ children from the truthful lessons of history.”
“History classes need a makeover so that students are accurately taught about the history, values, and persons that made America great,” Thomasson adds. “Who can be against this but those who despise the moral values that founded this country?”
Oh, Gawd, the irony is killing me! I agree with Thomasson that no one, especially children, should be “protected from” or otherwise denied access to the truth. I agree that children need to be “accurately taught about the history, values, and persons” that shaped the USA. But, Thomasson and I are light-years apart regarding the substance of those lessons. What he is calling truth is bullshit, lies and the vile emissions of conservative Christian wet dreams. And please, for the love of truth, don’t overlook the way he substitutes the phrase “moral values” for “religious dogma.” Don’t ever let wingnuts like Thomasson get away with using such duplicitous terminology. Make them spell out clearly that they are speaking about specific religious values espoused by specific sects of the Christian church. Liberals, progressives and all others interested in speaking clearly must stop letting the wingnuts select and define the terminology of political debate; their deliberately obfuscating terminology masks more than it reveals. Also, Thomasson’s assertion notwithstanding, it was secular, Enlightenment values that made this country great (though flawed), not Christian values. Again, liberals, progressives and other clear thinkers can’t let wingnuts get away with misrepresenting their values and our history with their fuzzy, misleading terminology.
The state of Texas received criticism earlier this year for seeking to introduce Christian ideals into social studies textbooks. The revisions included the fact that the Founding Fathers established the country on Christianity.
The criticism leveled at the state of Texas was completely warranted – explicitly sectarian Christian ideals have no place in any textbooks used in publicly funded schools in a secular society. Moreover, it is by no means a “fact” that “the Founding Fathers established the country on Christianity.” That is precisely the issue under dispute – although it is only disputatious to religious right wingnuts; most historians do not agree with the state of Texas, Randy Thomasson, or any other wingnuts. Slapping the “fact” label on an idea doesn’t magically or miraculously transform it from “disputed idea” to “fact.” Obviously, the American Founding Fathers could not help being influenced by Christianity; it pervaded their culture more than any other religion of the time. It’s also not disputed that some of the Founding Fathers were Christians. But, those few who wanted to establish trends that fuel the fantasies of today’s religious right lost the fight, and secularists won. I view the result of that struggle today and say, “And it was good.”
– the chaplain