Okay, Skepchick readers, I have had enough. I’ve reached the end of my golden rope of tolerance and optimism, andÂ have fallenÂ past the branches of mere cynicism and frustration, landingÂ with a thudÂ onÂ a hard patch ofÂ pissed off.
You all know I followed closely and blogged about the Texas State Board of Education’s moronic refusal to listen to biology professorsÂ and an expert panel of scientists when adopting the science standards for Texas school children, leaving the door openÂ for creationist bullshit to slip into the education materials. Well,Â water-head former State Board chairman, Don McLeroy, and hisÂ over-Jesused fucktard buddies on the board are now pushing to load the history curriculum with several extra helpings ofÂ Christian delusion.
The conservative reviewers [of the history curriculum] say they believe that children must learn that America’s founding principles are biblical. For instance, they say the separation of powers set forth in the Constitution stems from a scriptural understanding of man’s fall and inherent sinfulness, or “radical depravity,” which means he can be governed only by an intricate system of checks and balances.
Folks, I can’t take it any more. Despite my checkered past,Â despite the factÂ that it would be nearly impossible for aÂ man of questionable characterÂ such asÂ me to get elected, despite the fact that most Texans will want to draw and quarter me when they discover I don’t believe in any deities, I’m going to have to run for a seat on the Texas State Board of Education. Someone has to be the person at the board meetings who stands up and says, “Are you fucking kidding me?”. And I’m goddamn ready to give it a shot.
Now, in regard to the article (by the way, big hat tip to Skepchick reader, kevin, for alerting us to it), I realize that history is a very different kind of discipline than science. Unlike science, much ofÂ history is open to interpretation, and even many of us here are guilty of incorrect interpretations of it from time to time. For example, the United States DID NOT WIN THE SPACE RACE of the Cold War era, though many American adults think otherwise.
But once again, the conservative boardÂ members areÂ ignoring much of what the history experts are telling them, and instead are listening toÂ their own hand-picked advisers. And among those hand-picked history advisers is the Rev. Peter Marshall.
Rev. Peter Marshall? Reverend???? (And no, he’s not the former host of Hollywood Squares.)
“We’re in an all-out moral and spiritual civil war for the soul of America, and the record of American history is right at the heart of it,” said Rev. Marshall.
Does that sound like something an expert on history would say? Hell, does that sound like something anyone whoÂ wears big boy pants would say? I mean, come on. There’s no “soul of America”. There hasn’t been a soul of America since Ray Charles died. And what the hell is a “moral and spiritual civil war”? Isn’t that an oxymoronÂ double word score or something?Â
No, of course it’s not. It’s simply the language of a man who has no idea about what goes on in the world outsideÂ his church. And he’s advising the board on how our children should be educated.
But the problem here runs even deeper than the good reverend’sÂ naive worldview. Two ofÂ the advisers picked by theÂ creationist cabalÂ want to remove or de-emphasize references to several historical figures who have become liberal icons, such as CÃ©sar ChÃ¡vez and Thurgood Marshall (no relation to the reverend).
And this in particularÂ Â is not an interpretive issue. It’s not even a factual issue. It’s a blatant political issue.
These people are historical figures who had huge impacts on the progress of the human race. You can’t remove them from history books because they had different political philosophies than you, or because they have come to be associated with people who have different political philosophies than you. Where wouldÂ such a processÂ ultimately lead? Who the hell would be left in the textbooks?
The kids inÂ a state already struggling with poor academic performance records would know even less. And as always, that is preciselyÂ the biggest worry in all this. I mean, we all know better. We keep asking questions and checkingÂ multiple sources from as many viewpoints as possible. The school children coming up in the fog of the current State Board may notÂ be able to ever see throughÂ it, if it keeps getting thicker and thicker.
“America is a special place and we need to be sure we communicate that to our children,” said McLeroy. “The foundational principles of our country are very biblical…. That needs to come out in the textbooks.”
On some level, the irony thatÂ men like McLeroy, while setting history guidelines, demonstrate such a profound lack of historical knowledge is delicious.Â Unfortunately, the stupid burnsÂ the tongue, leaving me to wretch at the sour taste in my mouth.
The good news is, as always, there is opposition to the creationist cabal.Â The emphasis on Christianity as a driving force is disputed by some historians and guideline reviewers, who focus instead on the economic motivation of many colonists and the fractured views of religion among the Founding Fathers. You know, factual things.
“There appears to me too much politics in some of this,” said Lybeth Hodges, a professor of history at Texas Woman’s University and another of the curriculum reviewers.
Some outside observers argue that curriculum analysts should be trained academics. “It’s important to have trained historians establishing the framework,” said David Vigilante, associate director of the National Center for History in the Schools at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Once again, let’s hope those rational voices are heard and their ideas passed along to Texas school children and students across the US.
In the meantime, I suggest reading the entire Wall Street Journal article. It’s fairly comprehensive and touches on most of the major elements of this issue.
Maybe the Wall Street JournalÂ willÂ shine a good light on this scoundrelÂ when I throw my hat into the ring for a good old Texas State Board of Education election smack-down.