Let's revisit the success of Texas State Board of Education member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, in requiring social studies students to analyze Confederate President Jefferson Davis's inaugural address. The Texas Education Agency has posted the revised American history curriculum standards (as of the January changes) here. The relevant standard for eighth-grade American history reads: "(A)nalyze the ideas contained in Jefferson Davis’s inaugural address and Abraham Lincoln's ideas about liberty, equality, union, and government as contained in his first and second inaugural addresses and the Gettysburg Address." The implication here is that Davis and Lincoln had competing ideas about "liberty, equality, union, and government." Such competing ideas should be obvious: Davis was defending the Confederacy's right to secede so that it could maintain the evil institution of slavery. Lincoln, who opposed slavery, was trying to maintain the Union. But that's not what Cargill and other far-right board members really have in mind. Read More

The Texas State Board of Education's approval in January of a requirement that students study the ideas in the inaugural address of Confederate President Jefferson Davis hasn't received a lot of attention. Far-right board member Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, proposed that addition to the eighth-grade American history curriculum standards. In states that once made up the Confederacy, nostalgia for the Old South is hardly new. To many on the right, the Confederacy offers a heroic stand against the "tyranny" of Washington (never mind that slavery was the key issue at the time of the Civil War). Segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s, for example, waved the Rebel flag in defiance of federal court rulings and Congressional acts protecting civil rights. Today some elected officials -- including Texas Gov. Rick Perry -- pander to wild-eyed, anti-government extremists and flirt with secessionist, "states' rights" and "nullification" rhetoric common in the years leading up to the Civil War. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that far-right members of the State Board of Education want Texas students to study the ideas of Davis, the Confederacy's only president. But let's look at some of Davis' ideas students will be considering, thanks to Ms. Cargill and her board colleagues. (Quoted passages below come from Davis' inaugural address.) Treason is patriotic. "Doubly justified by the absence of wrong on our part, and by wanton aggression on the part of others, there can be no cause to doubt that the courage and patriotism of the people of the Confederate States will be found equal to any measure of defense which their honor and security may require." Read More