Not Enough American Exceptionalism & Free Market Glory!


Credit: Democracy Now.

Republican Arkansas state Sen. Kim Hendren introduced a bill to the state legislature that will ban the works of historian Howard Zinn from any schools that receive public funds.

The Arkansas Times reported Thursday that House Bill 1834 would ban all public schools and open enrollment charter schools from “including in its curriculum or course materials for a program of study books or any other material authored by or concerning Howard Zinn.”

Zinn is the author of “A People’s History of the United States,” the groundbreaking re-examination of U.S. history in terms of its effects on the poor, people of color and women.

What began as a fringe interpretation of history has gradually gained ground. In 2014 and 2015, Republicans across the country fought a pitched battle against the federal AP high school history program. Conservatives argue that the curriculum looks at U.S. history through the lenses of race and class, placing too much emphasis on slavery and Native American genocide and not enough on American exceptionalism and the glory of the free market economy.

Why you can’t go around teaching history that isn’t properly whitewashed, oh no. Lies are so much better. As usual, in that exceptional American way, the truth is the enemy. Full story here.

Adding to the load of exceptional American stupidity, is Ryan Zinke, the new Secretary of the Interior. What’s he done? Why, he’s lifted the ban on lead ammunition and fishing tackle. Because lead doesn’t cause any harm at all, right? Right.

Naturally, the NRA is elated over this idiotic move. As lead causes the unintended deaths of birds and fish, you’d think perhaps all those avid hunters and fishers would have a moment of head scratching, and figure out that lead would mean less animals available for them to slaughter. And of course, having lead scattered all over the place, leaching into the ground and water, eh, what’s the problem?

In the hypocritical stupidity exceptionalism category, we have one Mike Pence, and his little email problem:

Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.

Emails released to IndyStar in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.

Cyber-security experts say the emails raise concerns about whether such sensitive information was adequately protected from hackers, given that personal accounts like Pence’s are typically less secure than government email accounts. In fact, Pence’s personal account was hacked last summer.


  1. Kengi says

    The lead problem is all in your mind. OK, it’s also a problem for other parts of the body as well…

  2. says

    Holy shit.
    Zinn’s book should be required reading. Whatever happened to “teach the controversy”?!

    PS -- I’m surprised the NRA isn’t saying that reloaders should be able to buy depleted uranium bullets. Maybe they’re just saving the stuff so it can be fired all over Syria.

  3. Kengi says

    Seriously, though, the lead issue is emblematic of so many environmental issues. It’s all about short-term profits at the expense of long-term expenditures. Eventually all that lead has to be cleaned up, at enormous costs.

    Old gun clubs near the Des Plaines River west of Chicago created a huge, expensive environmental problem. The clubs go out of business and (because corporations aren’t the same as the people who own them when it comes to liability) the former owners pay nothing for the cleanup. The tax payers pay for it all.

    That’s the only argument I’ve ever succeeded with when confronting libertarians about environmental issues. There is a real cost to pollution (direct and indirect) and it needs to be reflected in the price of goods and services rather than shifted to future tax payers. If people really were interested in market-based solutions, those costs would always be part of the price, and government regulations are the only way to impose them.

    But Republicans (and neocon Dems) focus solely on the short-term profits for the wealthy always at the expense of the rest of us.

  4. says


    Whatever happened to “teach the controversy”?!

    Zinn’s history isn’t the repub right kind of controversy: whitewashed and Jehovah based.

  5. cartomancer says

    One irony of this is that political attempts to skew the history curriculum are far from unique to America. Worldwide it is history curricula that tend to be by far the most politically charged. America is somewhat odd in that its science curricula tend to be controversial (thanks to religious concerns and corporate climate change denialism), but elsewhere it is what gets taught in history lessons that attracts the most discussion and debate. Geographers and Mathematicians never come in for government scrutiny in the same way historians do.

    In Britain it tends to be conflict between actual historians, for whom the subject should be about examining evidence and interrogating perceptions of the past, and authoritarian conservative types for whom it should be about “telling the national story”. The draft history curriculum of 2013, by Michael Fucking Gove (his full name to the teaching profession), was an abysmal piece of jingoistic slime, impossible to actually teach from, and rightly rejected by saner minds in favour of something more sensible. Very little is guaranteed to piss off history teachers more than suggesting that we should be little more than the national propaganda department.

  6. says


    Very little is guaranteed to piss off history teachers more than suggesting that we should be little more than the national propaganda department.

    All history here in the States is a national propaganda story. Yes, you have history teachers who attempt to teach correctly, in spite of the texts they are forced to deal with; and you have right wing religious parents who have fucking heart failure if junior learns white people maybe aren’t so great, threats of lawsuits, and a teacher who has to teach the party line.
    It’s a bit better in colleges, but not by all that much. All manner of people are shocked to the core when they read an actual bit of history, and always the same response: “I wasn’t taught that!”

  7. cartomancer says

    Although it does surprise me just how heavy-handed this intervention is, specifying or banning specific books and authors. The closest our government or our exam boards would ever dare to get is specifying particular periods, topics and issues for teachers to cover. Generally the choice of resources, examples and teaching materials is entirely down to the teachers themselves.

  8. says


    Although it does surprise me just how heavy-handed this intervention is, specifying or banning specific books and authors.

    Oh, that’s nothing. Textbooks have to be approved by a board in Texas. Yep, Texas. Two, three years ago, they wanted to extirpate Jefferson from history texts, because he was too liberal.

  9. Pierce R. Butler says

    To amplify a little on Caine’s # 9: In Texas, one of the largest states by population as well as area, public school textbooks are approved and purchased much more on the state level than in other states (which mostly approve and purchase district-by-district, usually meaning county-by-county).

    For decades (and, I think, continuing now) the Texas schoolbook committee was captured and controlled by a small faction of right-wingers. US textbook publishers therefore had (have) to cater to their control of the market -- hardly any purchasers insist on less reactionary content, and producing different versions for different regions adds significantly to cost and very little to profit. Thus, one fanatical (and poorly educated) cabal in effect controls US schools nationally.

  10. coragyps says

    Pierce: It’s moderating a little at the textbook zoo here in Texas. The rightwing Taliban has less than a complete lock on the board this year, though there is still plenty to worry about. Biology texts are up for review this spring, I think, and that won’t be a pretty sight. Eve riding her pet dino never is.

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