When we last checked in on the Texas textbook wars, the craziest advocate on the state School Board for rewriting American history was a dentist named Don McLeroy, who had become so embarassing that he faced a Republican primary challenge from a more conventional conservative. The good news is that McLeroy lost, albeit very narrowly. The bad news is that he remains on the Board for ten more months, and as James McKinley explains in the New York Times today, McLemore and the conservative bloc he leads on the Board is going for the gold in imposing its revisionist views on the school children of the Lone Star State (and many other states, given Texas’ outsized clout in the textbook market).
Check this out:
Dr. McLeroy still has 10 months to serve and he, along with rest of the religious conservatives on the board, have vowed to put their mark on the guidelines for social studies texts.
For instance, one guideline requires publishers to include a section on “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association.”
There have also been efforts among conservatives on the board to tweak the history of the civil rights movement. One amendment states that the movement created “unrealistic expectations of equal outcomes” among minorities. Another proposed change removes any reference to race, sex or religion in talking about how different groups have contributed to the national identity.
Don’t know if the instruction on the important role of the NRA will include in-class Eddie Eagle appearances, but it wouldn’t surprise me. The revisionism does not, of course, only pertain to relatively current events:
References to Ralph Nader and Ross Perot are proposed to be removed, while Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general, is to be listed as a role model for effective leadership, and the ideas in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address are to be laid side by side with Abraham Lincoln’s speeches.
Early in the hearing on Wednesday, Mr. McLeroy and other conservatives on the board made it clear they would offer still more planks to highlight what they see as the Christian roots of the Constitution and other founding documents.
“To deny the Judeo-Christian values of our founding fathers is just a lie to our kids,” said Ken Mercer, a San Antonio Republican.
The new guidelines, when finally approved, will influence textbooks for elementary, middle school and high school. They will be written next year and will be in effect for 10 years.
It’s long been a common ploy for Christian Right advocates to insist on the “Christian roots of the Constitution” as a way to marginalize the church-state-separatist legacy of Jefferson and Madison, and limit the protection of religious liberty to Christians (and we are talking about people with a rather rigid view of what constitutes a “Christian,” with the President of the United States or pro-choice Catholics often not qualifying). The elevation of Confederate leaders into a position of moral equivalency with Lincoln also has an old and unsavory history, as anyone who grew up in the Jim Crow South (as I did) can tell you. But it’s arguably not surprising to see such travesties gain ground in a state whose current governor has been known to flirt with antebellum theories of nullification and absolute state sovereignty.