"Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
History has shown that oft-repeated quote by Spanish philosopher George Santayana to be true. And so I wonder what horrors future generations will be doomed to repeat if conservatives are successful in rewriting the history taught in American classrooms. Legislators in Arizona have already deemed that contributions by people of color have no place in curricula. Now, the Texas State Board of Education ***8212; a Republican-dominated group led by evangelical Christian activist Cynthia Dunbar ***8212; is proposing changes to that state's social studies curriculum to advance a conservative agenda and "promote patriotism." At the same time, it does so by obscuring truths about slavery, the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War, to name just a few.
"We are fighting for our children's education and our nation's future," says Dunbar. "In Texas, we have certain statutory obligations to promote patriotism and to promote the free enterprise system. There seems to have been a move away from a patriotic ideology. There seems to be a denial that this was a nation founded under God. We had to go back and make some corrections."
Among the "corrections," according to The Guardian: renaming the slave trade the "Atlantic triangular trade;" adding information about the "contributions" of pro-slavery Confederate leaders and the "unintended consequences" of affirmative action; blaming the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Muslim fundamentalism; tying Martin Luther King, Jr. to the Black Panther movement; and describing the civil rights movement as creating "unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes" among black and white Americans.
And it is not simply the history of people of color that the board seeks to neuter. Thomas Jefferson's role as a Founding Father would be diminished, on account of his belief in the separation of church and state. Meanwhile, Sen. Joseph McCarthy's infamous hearings on Communism will get sympathetic treatment.
The Texas State Board of Education is on a crusade to teach students an alternative American history ***8212; one that upholds ideas of white supremacy, manifest destiny, Christian fundamentalism and American exceptionalism. And the victims of this hijacking may be students nationwide.
MSNBC reports that Texas is the second-largest textbook buyer in the nation. Because of its prominence, many textbooks are written to meet that state's standards ***8212; books that are in turn frequently used in other states.
Some efforts have been made to stem the tide: California lawmakers, for example, have already moved to keep Texas history out of Golden State classrooms. Other publishing insiders say Texas' impact on other states' books has been overstated.
Whatever the case, it's bad enough that the more than 4.5 million students attending Texas schools may be exposed to a false interpretation of our national and international story. Texas is trading truth, hard facts and critical thinking for monochromatic cheer-leading and false patriotism. If passed when the board meets on Friday, this new curriculum will hide the lessons the world has learned through a hard history of wars, slavery, genocides and human suffering.
And if that's the case, I ask again, what will we be doomed to repeat?
First Margarito then Panama Lewis now this? Texas wtf is going on.