On Friday, May 21, 2010, by a 9 to 5 vote along political party lines, the Texas State Board of Education voted to rewrite history. Citing a liberal bias in the existing History curriculum, the Board approved changes that will affect the learning of young, impressionable minds.
The rewrite will include a complete makeover with a positive spin on all things conservative. For example, the activities of Senator Joe McCarthy will now be viewed in a positive light even though history categorically condemns the late Senator’s witch hunt-like tactics that jailed countless innocent Americans based on suspicions of communist sympathies.
The Board will falsely rewrite History books to conclude that our founding fathers did not really intend for a complete separation of church and state, in spite of all evidence to the contrary. The fact that the law of our land, the Constitution, deliberately excludes the word “God” from within its pages, seems inconsequential to the Texas Board, and the iterations by countless founding fathers including Jefferson, Madison Addams and others of their deliberate intention to separate church and state are completely ignored.
Meanwhile, Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the rise of the conservative movement in the 1980’s will be rewritten in a fully positive light, ignoring the sticky little problems of the Iran-Contra debacle or the huge budgetary deficits rung up the great “conservative” president.
While conservatism gets a face lift, other historical movements will be de-emphasized or outright demonized. The New Deal and the Great Society which heralded in America’s most prosperous era will be called into question as will the Civil Rights Movement with an added lesson on the negative impacts of Affirmative Action. The life and accomplishments of Teddy Kennedy will be deleted along with the accomplishments of civil rights leaders, environmental activists and other great liberal minds of the late 20th century.
Sadly, the Texas State Board of Education has taken it upon itself to rewrite the history the innocent children of Texas will be forced to absorb without consulting a single educator or historian.
The facts of the past have always been a sticky issue for those who would seek to control the minds of the public in ways that are inconsistent with history. Our largely Unitarian, irreligious and Deist founding fathers were men of the Enlightenment who worshipped reason over dogma, and they pose a problem for those insisting the United States is a “Christian” nation. The unprecedented era of prosperity that followed the New Deal is a slap in the face for those who contend that governmental regulation of industry, minimum wages and social welfare are a pariah on the economy. And, the bumbling ineptitude of Ronald Regan and the deregulation of industry that followed, which ultimately led to the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression does not bode well for neoliberal economic theory. Rewriting history in Texas can hide these realities but cannot change them.
History has been beset by powers that would seek to manipulate the historical record to further their own agenda. The Texas Board of Education are in good company with the Holocaust deniers, the Soviet Communist regime, the perpetrators of the Armenian genocide and Adolf Hitler, who coined the concept of the “big lie,” to control the minds and souls of the populace.
How do we want our children to be educated? Do we want to raise the next generation to be independent, thinking individuals who are able to seek truth from a variety of sources? Or do we want our children to be unquestioning vessels of whatever propaganda the powerful would inflict upon them? Free thinking, questioning individuals form the basis of the democracy our founding fathers envisioned. While indoctrinated, unquestioning populations are the dream of totalitarians.
Unfortunately, some innocent Texas school children’s minds will be sacrificed on the alter of historical revisionism, but history also teaches us that for all the manipulations of autocrats throughout time, the truth most often prevails. And more often than not, the political pendulum swings sharply in the opposite direction as a response. I predict a Texas full of angry young people in a decade’s time who will change that red state to blue.