Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thoughts on the Late Unpleasantness in Texas

When did stupid become patriotic?

As a historian, I try to avoid thinking too hard about the periodic battles over textbook standards that emerge out of Texas every few years like zombies rising from the swamp to consume the brains of the living. Nothing good ever comes out of those battles - certainly nothing good for the education of my children or the study of American history, anyway - and all you get for paying attention is the sickening feeling of brain cells dying from exposure to people who would rather indoctrinate than educate.

Let me be clear on this:

The people who decide what the standards are for Texas - and, though the magic of the marketplace, for the civilized portion of the US as well - are clearly not capable of comprehending, let alone directing, the study of American history. They seek to recreate a United States that never existed in the first place. They seem to feel that this nation was composed entirely of white people and happy dancing slaves, once upon a time, and was founded on Christian beliefs of the most extreme and narrow-minded variety. They worship at the altar of Hoover and Reagan and would just as soon our children never hear the words Kennedy or Roosevelt. Either Roosevelt. They live in a wing-nut fantasy land of laissez-faire economics and theocracy that would be unrecognizable to the vast majority of Americans since 1607, up to and including the Founding Fathers they say they know better than the rest of us do. They claim to be conservatives, and yet are utterly, appallingly ignorant of what they claim to be conserving.

And they want your children to be similarly ignorant.

The money quote in all this, by the way? This comes from the chairman of the committee that wrote these new educational standards, a dentist by trade. "Someone has to stand up to the experts," he said.

Consider that statement for a moment. Experts - in this case historians, people like myself who have spent significant portions of their lives actually examining the evidence at hand and trying to understand the reality of the past rather than simply assuming that the past conformed to their private fantasies - are, by definition, people who know more about a subject than most people do. Apparently in Texas the more you know the less you are to be trusted. Conversely, one assumes, the less you know the more control you should be given over education, and the closer you approach to negative intelligence - the more you can suck facts out of a room simply by walking in and opening your mouth - the more authority you should have.

We should have let them secede when we had the chance.

Now, none of this is new. This has been going on for decades now, with every iteration of the process bringing it one step further along on the trail of making sure our children know nothing but partisan dogma. You'd think I would be used to it by now.

But I'm not. And I see no reason why I should be.

I think the final straw for me was when this collection of Solons decided to remove Thomas Jefferson from the standards and replace him with John Calvin. Because the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence is clearly not as important to American history as a Frenchman who burned heretics at the stake in Geneva decades before the American colonies were founded.

I will not let my children be ignorant. I will not let them be used by the stupid to further their political agendas. I will not stand idly and watch my discipline and my country reduced to craven submission to ideological fantasy.

Here I stand. I can do no other.


Katherine McKay said...

I thought I was reading something from The Onion when I read about what was going on in Texas. It's appalling. That these views should infect (and I use the word deliberately) the rest of the country's textbooks is beyond belief.

tellthestories said...

Loving the fact that you quote back Luther in the face of Calvin. Ha!

I am with you. Subbing in Phyllis Schlafly didn't much enthuse me either.

KimK said...

Send this to the Dallas News! Excellent editorial.

beemodern said...

Yay!This should be published everywhere!

Beatrice Desper said...

This reminds me of my twin who lives in a state that is required to teach creationism by law.
I live in a (nation)state whose fourth, and sometimes third political party spouts anti-Semitic garbage.

Keep on ranting.And send it in,Kim is right!