Far-Right Rhetoric on Social Studies Heats Up

With the Texas State Board of Education set to take up debate on proposed new social studies curriculum standards this week, the far right’s rhetoric is increasingly heated. We told you last week that Texas Tea Partiers are planning a “take back our schools!” rally outside a public hearing on the standards at the Texas Education Agency on Wednesday. Now Peter Morrison, a right-winger who served on one of the curriculum writing teams, is tossing a bomb into the debate. (Click here to read more about Morrison and other far-right extremists who have had a hand in rewriting the standards.) Says Morrison today in an e-mail to recipients of his periodic Peter Morrison Report:

“Social studies is the primary avenue of left wing propaganda into our schools. This is where they portray America as an evil country, bowdlerize our religious heritage and clutter the biographies of George Washington and Sam Houston with scores of marginal, politically correct token figures chosen primarily because of their race or gender.”

Morrison calls on his e-newsletter readers to contact Republicans on the board to “encourage” them “to do the right thing.” And what’s that, Peter? Promote the fiction that Joseph McCarthy was an American hero? Claim that the Founders wanted a nation based on Christian biblical principles rather than the principle of religious freedom for all? Ignore the contributions of minorities to Texas and American history?

Expect more (deeply) dishonest rhetoric from the right during public hearing testimony on Wednesday. The state board will then begin debating — and amending — the standards on Thursday. The board is scheduled to vote on the final standards document in March. Publishers will use the standards to write new textbooks scheduled for are adoption in 2012. (That adoption date could change as the state Legislature wades through serious budget issues.)

Keep an eye on TFN Insider this week. We will be live-blogging from the public hearing on Wednesday and the board debate on Thursday.

7 thoughts on “Far-Right Rhetoric on Social Studies Heats Up

  1. Morrison said: “Social studies is the primary avenue of left wing propaganda into our schools. This is where they portray America as an evil country, bowdlerize our religious heritage and clutter the biographies of George Washington and Sam Houston with scores of marginal, politically correct token figures chosen primarily because of their race or gender.”

    Funny. I thought the National Education Association (NEA) and its Texas state equivalent were the primary avenues of left wing propaganda into our schools. That’s what the right wing radicals used to say. Now they are changing their minds again. I sure wish they could get their story straight. One minute they are a bold majority poised to take back schools that are “rightfully theirs,” and the next minute they are a persecuted minority drawing their last whimpering breath. When I was growing up in a small, conservative southern town, we had some terms for that: two-faced, duplicitous, double-sided, and hypocritical.

    Let’s take a closer look at Morrison’s points one-by-one:

    1) I do not recall ever hearing any public school teacher or any American citizen who posts here portray the United States as an evil country. How many folks here at TFN Insider love the United States of America? Hold up your hands!!! Hold them up high!!! Mine is up!!! My family is good Virginia stock on both sides going all the way back to the late 1600s and certainly the very early 1700s. I love this country as much as Morrison or any Tea Bagger.

    Is the United States a perfect, spotless lamb offerable to God as a purified, sweetened, and fragrant sacrifice on the altar of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem? No. As the Bible says, no human being, no human institution, and no human endeavor are perfect. Our actual and true American history is a mixture of successes and failures that would both please the Lord and displease the Lord, just as much so as the thoughts and actions in the heart and life of every individual human being would both please and displease Him. History is a record of the good things human beings have done and their failures.

    The right wing radicals and Tea Baggers in Texas are asking the SBOE to teach a lie to our school children—that being that the United States is a perfect land filled with perfect people who do only perfect things. That’s a lie—plain and simple. You know it. I know it. I know it would have never passed muster in Mrs. Love’s Sunday school class back in 1964. The truth is this. Real American history is a mixed bag of things that make us proud and some other things that do not make us proud. If we mention only the good things in our social studies classes, we deny our children 25-50 percent of their actual history. God does not deny those negative things to our children in his history book called the Bible? Why then should we deny our children the negative things in American history? Both positive and negative things are our full and legitimate history.

    Children often learn by trial and error. A missed question on a test is an opportunity to learn. The purpose for remembering the unpleasant things in American history is not to tear down our country. It is to take note of what went wrong so we can learn something from it and make our country a better place. However, we will never be able to do that if we go into total self-denial as a nation and feed our children the Tea Bagger lie that the United States is perfect now, has always been perfect, and will always be perfect. For those of you who have actually read your Bibles, do you honestly think Jesus would buy into the Tea Bagger lie that the United States is perfect and that we should teach that to our children?

    2) Bowdlerize our religious heritage? Ha!!! Now there is an example of the pot calling the kettle black. The right wing conservatives and Tea Baggers are the real “bowdlerizers” of our American religious heritage. I dare say even Thomas Bowdler would pin a gold medal on their shirts for a bowdlerizing job so well done. But do not take my word for it. I am just a child of Jesus, once and fully dipped in the water at a conservative Southern Baptist church down south in a red state.

    I have a challenge for you instead. You do the work on your own. Take the books of David Barton and other so-called experts on America history to a Christian history professor at your local state university, such as the University of Texas, and ask for their evaluation of its accuracy. Then take a look at a book entitled “Liars for Jesus” by Chris Rodda. Then finish up by doing some research on the modern anti-Christian heresies that most everyday Christians know nothing about today. Search on these individual terms: Christian Reconstructionism, Theonomy, Christian Dominionism. Then look up this term: Christian Nationalism. All of these are recent, man-made philosophies that claim to be based on scripture (however loosely), but actually deny many of the most basic beliefs that our Christian churches have held for the past 2000 years. Pray first, read your reference sources closely, and analyze them with a discerning mind. I think you will soon see the radical right darkness that is spreading through our churches today—disguised as light. Remember, the Evil One often presents himself deceitfully to us as an angel clothed in beauty and light.

    3) Morrison says, “Biographies of George Washington and Sam Houston with scores of marginal, politically correct token figures chosen primarily because of their race or gender.”

    This statement is utterly ridiculous. I do not recall anyone inserting token minority figures into a discussion of the life of George Washington and then blowing them up to be bigger than they were. Some American Indians are occasionally mentioned, more or less in passing, in discussions of Washington’s role in the French and Indian War, and his slave holdings at Mount Vernon are sometimes discussed, again pretty much in passing, and that is about it. In my opinion, Morrison has done little more here than to display his own misunderstanding of American history.

    Sam Houston is a different story. “In 1809, at age 13, Sam Houston ran away from home, because he was unsatisfied working as a shop clerk, and resided for a time with the Cherokee tribe of Chief Oolooteka on Hiwassee Island. He was adopted into the Cherokee Nation and given the name Colonneh or “the Raven.” In addition, he married a Cherokee woman by the name of Tiana Rogers Gentry. How many of you people would regard your own wife as “a token figure”? How many of you would still be alive the next day after doing it?

    Antonio Lopéz de Santa Anna played an important role in the life of Sam Houston—a huge one!!! Without him, the story of Houston’s life would lose much of its interest and color. Are we to believe that Santa Anna was just a “token” Hispanic figure who parachuted into the life of Sam Houston from a 19th century flying burrito? Was he inserted into Houston’s life by central casting to meet some early 19th century EEO requirement?

    Come on good people of Texas. You are all smarter than these right wing radicals and Tea Baggers would have you believe. This great country of ours was built by my ancestors, your ancestors, and the ancestors of many minority individuals. Sam Houston and William Travis did not construct all of Texas prehistory and history over a 12,000 year period. They had some help, and minority historical figures were an important part of that help.

    To pretend otherwise is to believe in a yet another radical right lie. It only makes sense to mention both the more notable historical figures like Sam Houston and some of the lesser known figures to “round out” the full story. Did Rembrandt discontinue a painting when the broad outlines of the major subjects were first sketched onto the canvas? No. He took his brushes and filled in those outlines with appropriate details and colors to bring the whole painting to life. It only makes sense to do the same thing when we paint a full picture of American history for our children.

  2. Why, when I was a kid, the fact that Sam Houston had lived with the Indians was one of the most interesting things about him as a person. It really added a level of interest that wouldn’t have been there otherwise. Kids need and want some richness and detail, and contradiction, and challenge in their study.
    This is really an assault by totalitarian wanna-be-s on public education itself. There real goal is to eliminate education except for the privileged. Their privileged.
    Let’s imagine what the US would be like if they were successful.
    Would it be a (nominally) Christian North Korea.
    Or would it be more like Iran? No, too many liberals.

  3. Actually, I thought Science class was/is the primary avenue of left-wing propaganda.

    Anyone remember the old TV commercial: “Certs is a breath mint. No, Certs is a candy mint. Stop! You’re both right!”

    Charles, I’d like to pick up on where you had written that you had never enountered America portrayed as an evil country, neither in your history classroom nor here on this forum. I agree.

    Let’s assume Peter Morrison has children. Let’s also assume Peter Morrison loves his children. Assuming the aforementioned statements are true, does Mr Morrison never point out his children’s faults to them? Does he ignore their faults? Does he never correct his children when they are wrong? Or does he overlook or ignore them whenever they are wrong or misbehave, denying their misbehavior and pretending not to notice. If he ignores their misbehavior, then we can assume he doesn’t love his children.

    So it goes with a nation and its citizens. Those who love their country want it to do right. They are dismayed, disappointed, embarrassed and hurt when it fails to live up to its ideals. Those who don’t love their country, don’t care what it does. In fact, they’d rather go into denial and look the other way when it does wrong.

  4. Cytocop: When I was reading what you wrote about parenting, two things came to mind:

    1) The old far right slogan from the 1960s: “My Country: Right or Wrong.”

    2) Jeff Dahmer

    Applying this to the current radical right mindset, you end up with a parent who can say:

    “My son is a serial killer. Hey, I can overlook that. Good boy Leroy!!!

    Applying this same radical right mindset to a citizen-country relationship, you end up with a citizen who can say:

    “My country is killing innocent black Americans in concentration camps. Hey, I can overlook that. Good boy Leroy!!!

    Anyone want to talk about torturing prisoners? I didn’t think so.

  5. Charles, it took me a few minutes (and a couple of readings) to follow your logic there. (Don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing). I guess I now understand your point, that being that the Right would say “My country is killing innocent black Americans in concentrate camps. But, hey, at least it’s teaching good ole conservative White Christian supremacy values to its public school kids.”

    Have I understood you correctly?

  6. I’m not sure. Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying before Cytocop, which might explain why what I said did not make much sense to you.

  7. Who is sitting on the sidelines complaining while the world mobilizes to pull survivors out of the rubble in Haiti?

    The religious right.