Something is rotten in the State of Texas

Few things in the world bother me that indoctrination and historical revisionism in schools.  Many atheists make a point of stating clearly that there is no such thing, for example, as a Catholic child, rather, just a child of Catholic parents.  It is my firm belief that religion has absolutely no place in schools.

For years, primarily in the USA, there’s been efforts by religious wingnuts to give some manner of equal footing to their batshit crazy ideas about origins – creationism and its pseudointellectual/pseudoscientific cousin, “intelligent design”.  These people are admittedly rather smart about it – their “teach the controversy” strategy.  They seem to learn from losing every time they go to court and developing disgusting new ways to push their agendas.

One of their most incredible ways of polluting the world with their ideas is their influence on school textbooks in the United States, through the Texas’ State Board Education.  A few years ago, in the 1960s as I recall (I wish I could find the link to the piece I read about it – I think it was in Slate, or maybe Mother Jones?), some fundamentalist nutjobs realized that the public could get involved in the curriculum development process.  They religious right has gotten involved wholesale in the process of shaping what Texas kids are taught about history, science, etc.

And the impact of this process is ever more alarming.  Texas represents a massive market for textbooks.  Publishers need to take Texan standards into account in order to sell their wares.  An article on the subject I read a while ago highlight the fact that Texas’ conservative bias was counterweighted by California’s more liberal tack, but as many of you will know, California’s basically broke, and buying textbooks in the near future isn’t on their agenda.  It seems that conservative nutcases have seen and are trying to seize their ultimate opportunity to rewrite history into their insane ideas.  I’m not going to get into everything they want to change, but suffice it to say that it’s just sickening.  Here’s one such link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35839979/ns/us_news-education/ that summarizes some of their changes these people want to put into place.

In one of the many articles I’ve read in the past couple of months about this disturbing trend, it was highlighted that most of the Board members who get a vote on curriculum have basically no academic qualifications in the fields they discuss.  Some of them have only high school educations.  I think it was slate that interviewed one of their “history” experts.  What’s he look for in assessing books?  Well, he cares about the discussion of Israel, and that Ronald Reagan is exalted as the man who killed Communism, a common delusion of the right wing.  Reagan’s contribution to the end of the Soviet Union are widely varied depending on who you read, but I recently saw that Americans, in a USA today poll in the early 1990s, ascribed more of a role to Gorbachev.  Interestingly, at least one academic I read suggested that not only was Reagan’s renewed arms race (SDI etc) devastating to the US economy, it actually stalled the inevitable collapse of the USSR by giving hardliners something to rally against.  That’s sort of  a theme that’s coming out in the Iran situation – Bush’s supposedly hardline stance on Iran gave Ahmadinejad someone to point at as a greater threat, Obama’s more reasonable approach is, possibly, fuelling public protest in Iran.  Why? Because when despots have no one to point to as a common enemy, they face more of a threat from their own subjects.

I’m off on a tangent.  Back to Texas.  The fact that these right-wing nutcases are getting influence over education in a large state and trying to build in delusions like the “Christian foundations” of the United States.  They have built in some other ridiculous priorities into their plans – a strange obsession with the Second Amendment, all sorts of things that make no real sense.

It’s pretty sick, and it’s happening before peoples’ eyes.  It’s got to be stopped.

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