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Jan 12 2010

Propagandists to the Rescue!

The Texas State Board of Education has been a constant source of annoyance and frustration for people like me, who value church-state separation. The current board is packed with creationists and religious ideologues who have lost touch with reality, not to mention their mission as educators. Here’s a sampling: Board member Cynthia Dunbar has called public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion” and unconstitutional. Not surprisingly, she’s a graduate of Pat Robertson’s would-be law school. Another board member, Don McLeroy, has consistently promoted Christianity in his previous role as chair of the board. He is quite convinced his training as a dentist makes him better suited to judge scientific material than the true experts whom he holds in contempt. He has called evolution “hooey” (as it conflicts with his Christian belief). Board member Terri Leo has argued for all language in textbooks to refer to opposite-sex couples exclusively (with no neutral language) when referring to marriage. She advocated that middle school textbooks emphasize that gay teens commit suicides at a higher rate. (It couldn’t have anything to do with Christian persecution, propaganda, and suggestion, could it, Terri?) If this is our best and brightest on the SBOE, Texas is pretty screwed up on the education front. Unfortunately, Texas’ textbook decision impact broad swaths of the United States. Many states simply buy the textbooks that have gone through the Texas review process.

The latest episode in this freak show is the current review of the history textbooks. Various dubiously qualified “experts” have been brought in to spin the textbooks with ideological agendas. Of particular interest is pseudo-historian David Barton and minister Peter Marshall who were both called by board members to lend a hand in reviewing history textbooks. Neither have credentials to be called experts. Barton is a well-known propagandist. He makes his living promoting a pro-Christian version of American history with lies and half-truths. Not surprisingly, he’s up to his usual tricks. The minister’s agenda is far more obvious. The only bright light in this whole sordid mess is the fact that Texas Freedom Network is doing a great job of covering the mess and helping to keep us informed. With luck, we can get more sane people on the board in the upcoming election. For now, we can really only watch the train wreck and hope for the best. (Yes, there’s a public hearing this week, but I don’t think it will have an impact.)

While I have certainly felt a lot of frustration and anger at the Texas SBOE over the years, today I’m feeling kind of sorry for Christianity. I feel pity. If the facts about Christianity were actually taught in schools… the Crusades, Salem Witch Trials, systematic persecution of Jews, the burning of the Library of Alexandria, the Spanish Inquisition, the corruption of the Popes, the sabotage of medical advances, the marketing of rapture snuff porn, and the link between belief and so many social ills… if all of the facts were taught in schools, in an unbiased way, it would inoculate kids in the US against the disease of Christianity. That’s what they’ve done it in Europe and the level of belief has plummeted.

Christian leaders here know of this danger, so they’ve packed the board with ideologues and sent in their crack team of propagandists to make Texas children’s minds safe for a false religion. They know they have to lie to the children because the truth is not on their side. It’s a pitiful attempt to save the falsehoods they hold so dear. Even in its sickly state, however, Christianity is still doing great harm.

7 comments

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  1. 1
    BeamStalk

    This is not just Texas. Texas is the second largest buyer of school textbooks in the country, California is the largest. California says it will not be purchasing new books until 2014 (I believe). That means all the textbook companies will conform to what standards Texas sets. So this will affect every state that is buying textbooks.The TFN is fighting for education for all of America.

  2. 2
    JD

    Hey Don I read that article in the statesman yesterday and thought about you! glad you didn't let us down.

  3. 3
    Miika

    Word has it the burning of the Library of Alexandria is actually a bit of a myth. There is a BBC radio programme about the library here: http://tinyurl.com/ygqs7vpInteresting stuff and worth listening to from the beginning, but they start discussing the demise of the library at about 33 minutes.

  4. 4
    Elipson

    I usually pride myself of being fairly good at thinking like other people, a tool that has served me well in a lot of debates and general social interaction. From the videos I have seen of Don McLeroy, and the texts I have read, I have a very hard time understanding him. He seems to revel in his own ignorance, defending it proudly as if that was a positive thing. I'd feel pity for him, if he didn't wield as much power as he does.

  5. 5
    Kyle S

    Here's a Washington Monthly article about it, re-posted on Daily Kos:http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2010/1001.blake.htmlMy favorite (for lack of a better term) quote: "This critical thinking stuff is gobbledygook" from one David Bradley.

  6. 6
    Aardvark

    I didn't know it's taught like that in Europe…and I can't find anything on google either. Could you provide a link to somewhere which verifies your claim that in European schools they tell it like it is.

  7. 7
    felix

    I anticipate reading excerpts from the new history textbooks, about how it's just a wild guess that Texas, let alone native Americans, even existed more than 6000 years ago. They'll probably have hundreds of footnotes telling us that historians are engaged in an even-sided controvery over this.

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