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L. Neil Smith's
Number 575, June 20, 2010

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Textbook Controversy
by Sean Gangol

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Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Through out my years of living in Texas I have experienced much stereotyping from people outside of the state. They seem to think that we are all country bumpkins who walk around with ten gallon hats and speak with thick country accents. There are even some who think that we drive around with cow horns on the hoods of our cars. They also think of us as inbred yokels who are incapable of having any intelligent thought. Unfortunately the recent scandal over what has been written in the textbooks probably reinforced this image for those who like to turn their noses up at this state.

Recently, the conservative members of the Texas Board of Education passed revisions to the textbooks used by public schools. There are many states who are concerned that these revisions may spread into their domains, since Texas is the largest purchaser of textbooks.

I am not certain what has been written in the new textbooks. All I know is what the media has claimed and we all know how reliable the mainstream media can be. Even the local media has proven itself to be worthless. One of these changes is the portrayal of America as a constitutional republic as opposed to a democracy. I wasn't even aware that this concept was being disputed. I was always taught that America was a republic, a form of indirect democracy. Whenever we said the Pledge of Allegiance, the words were "to the republic for which it stands" not to the democracy for which it stands. I didn't realize that things have changed so much since I last attended public school.

There were some changes that seem absurd, such as the exclusion of Thomas Jefferson from the Texas Curriculum's world history standards on Enlightenment thinking. I suppose that the logic behind this was to show that the US was founded on Christian values and since Jefferson was a Deist, he didn't quite fit the mold. I would have to agree that this change is utterly ridiculous. The idea of excluding one of the greatest minds of the Enlightenment period because he contradicted the idea of the US being a Christian country goes way beyond absurdity. Not to say that Judeo-Christian values didn't play a part in the formation of this country. However one can not deny that there were many Deists, like Thomas Jefferson, who also influenced the formation of this nation.

There were many Hispanic activists that were upset over the absence of key Latino figures in the curriculum, such as Caesar Chavez and the Mexicans who fought on the side of Texas independence. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that Chavez is being excluded since conservatives are known for their distain of union leaders. You would have thought that Chavez's views against illegal immigration would have earned him some points among the conservatives. I do side with the Hispanics on including information about the Mexicans who fought for Texas independence. One of those men was a descendent of mine, Jose' Antonio Navarro. He was a statesman who signed the Texas Declaration of Independence. Sadly most people don't know of him or any of the other Latinos who fought for Texas.

The Democrats on the board also took issue with the curriculum standards regarding economics. One of those standards was the teaching of the rapid inflation that occurred after the abandonment of the Gold Standard. Apparently the Democrats don't like the idea of anybody pointing out the fallacy of the money out of thin air system that replaced the Gold Standard. The left-wingers on the board have also complained about the idea of teaching the ideologies of free market economists such as Milton Friedman and Friedrich A. Hayek, alongside the ideologies of Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Keynes. Keynesian ideology is a form of Voodoo economics, which was responsible for prolonging the Great Depression. We all know that Marxism has not only proven to be a total failure, but it has also led to the death of a hundred million people world wide. Considering that both of these ideologies have proven to be disastrous, I don't see any problem with free market economics being taught in the curriculum.

There have also been some complaints about the textbooks mentioning the great conservative resurgence of the 1980's and 90's. These textbooks would feature organizations such as the Heritage Foundation, the NRA, and the Moral Majority. To what extent I don't know. The media claims that the new textbooks would show favorable bias towards these organizations. Since I haven't seen the new revisions for myself I can't really comment on them. The media also claims that the revisions put Joe McCarthy in a favorable light. Once again I don't know how true this is, but they seem to base this on the fact that the new books would make reference to the Venona Papers. Even though McCarthy was a paranoid drunk who helped start a series of witch hunts, it turned out that he was right about many of the high profile people that he accused of being Communists. These revelations would come after the release of the Venona Papers, which came from decoded Soviet cables. I can't say that I have ever been fond of McCarthy's legacy, but it turns out that he was right about many of the people he accused. We shouldn't ignore the facts just because we may not like a certain individual.

The board also wanted the Republican's role in the Civil Rights movement to be mentioned, which seems fair. It seems like people have this misconception about the Civil Rights movement being a Democrat vs. Republican conflict, when it was actually a fight against Southern leaders who wanted to cling on to their archaic ways. After all, there was a higher percentage of Republicans who voted for the Civil Acts of 1964 and there were many Democrats, such as Governor Wallace of Alabama, who supported segregation.

The internment of Italian and German Americans during World War II was something else that the board wanted to mention in the textbooks. Most of the history books only make mention of the Japanese Americans who found themselves imprisoned in concentration camps. I believe that the Americans of German and Italian descent also deserve to be mentioned. According to the media, the motive behind this move is to show that the internments weren't motivated by race. As long as they don't try to justify one of the grossest violations of civil liberties in American history, I don't have a problem with it.

With the exception of the exclusion of Thomas Jefferson and key Latino figures that have much historical significance, most of the changes seem with in reason. Most of the bias that I have seen in textbooks usually leans to the left. You never hear that mentioned by any of the mainstream media outlets. I will discuss this more in part two of this article.

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