Texas, Texas, Texas

There are a lot of wonderful things about Texas. This time of year in the Hill Country is especially beautiful. The hills are green and the wild flowers are in bloom. Texas hospitality is indeed present. Music and dancing are deep in the hearts of Texans. There are even a few excellent universities.

There are also some really disturbing things about Texas that are very difficult to overlook. I first started hearing about the textbook controversy shortly after we moved here four years ago. Texas is the one of the largest purchasers of school textbooks in the nation. As a result, Texas holds influence over what’s published and many states get Texas’ take on history and other subjects.

The changes being proposed were so unbelievable I thought surely, they would never come to pass. Historical facts are facts, right? Scientific hypotheses are verified through experiments and replicating data, right? All sides of an argument are considered before rendering an interpretation, right?

Not in Texas.

Über-conservatives on the Texas State Board of Education are rewriting history to  promote their political priorities. By molding the events of the past, they justify their current views and agenda. Even the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute reported concern over Texas’ rendering of history:

Biblical influences on America’s founding are exaggerated, if not invented. The complicated but undeniable history of separation between church and state is flatly dismissed, the group wrote.

In other words, the Founding Fathers were all Christians (they weren’t) and the United States was established as a Christian nation (uh, that would be a no too).

States’ rights are listed before slavery as the cause of the Civil War. The Confederate President Jefferson Davis’ inaugural address is to be studied along with President Abraham Lincoln’s. Segregation is mentioned only in passing (The civil rights President, Lyndon B. Johnson, is a Texan!). Social Security and Medicare, federal entitlement programs are attacked. Capitalism is referred to as “the free enterprise system.” They want to clear Joseph McCarthy’s name in relation to the House Un-American Activities Committee and emphasize the infiltration of the U.S. government by communists. Imperialism is associated with Europeans and is replaced by U.S. expansionism. It’s aggression, of course, if the Soviets are involved. And this is just the tip of the changes.

Most of the time I read stuff like this and dismiss it, thinking no one really thinks that, do they? This election season is showing me that yes, people really do! I find that extremely scary.


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