by TFN

We just learned that the Rev. Peter Marshall, who advised the Texas State Board of Education on proposed new social studies curriculum standards last year, passed away suddenly this week. The Texas Freedom Network and Rev. Marshall had sharp differences of opinion on politics and education. Regardless, we extend our condolences to his family and his friends. May they find comfort in the love and memories Rev. Marshall surely left behind for them.… Read More

by Dan Quinn

Reading his increasingly vitriolic commentaries, one begins to question the Rev. Peter Marshall's grasp of reality. Yet the State Board of Education put him in a prominent position to influence what millions of public school children in Texas will learn in their social studies classrooms. The mind still reels at the thought. In any case, consider two recent commentaries posted on his website. Marshall's July 22 commentary about Islam included this stunning and vicious attack on Muslim Americans: "When it comes to the reality of Islam in America, can a good or devout Muslim be a good American? No. The answer, my friends, is a flat 'no!' The only Muslim that could possibly be a good American is a Muslim that is non-practicing, or one that is in the process of repudiating Islam. Why? Because Islam is completely incompatible with either Christianity or patriotic Americanism." Marshall then offered a bizarre rant about President Obama in his July 29 commentary: (I)rony abounds when one realizes that our current President, who claimed in his election campaign to really be 'one of the people,' and that he could 'hear' the plights and needs of the poor, the less fortunate, etc., etc., is in fact the most elitist President in our entire history. He is the product of an elite Hawaiian prep school, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School. That's about as elitist as it gets in America. Further, he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School. When you listen to the velvet sounds of his mellifluous baritone you are hearing the carefully modulated expressions of one who has been groomed for his present position for a very long time. He is an elitist of the elite. Read More

Of course, it's not all that new. We've been watching this fester over the last decade. But the venom of the growing anti-Muslim hate campaign -- and the willingness to disregard basic religious and civil liberties for American Muslims -- should be a shocking development in a nation that has championed religious freedom for more than two centuries. Consider, for example, recent comments by Tennessee's lieutenant governor, Ron Ramsey: At a recent event in Hamilton County, Ramsey was asked by a man in the audience about the "threat that's invading our country from the Muslims." Ramsey proclaimed his support for the Constitution and the whole "Congress shall make no law" thing when it comes to religion. But he also said that Islam, arguably, is less a faith than it is a "cult." "Now, you could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, cult whatever you want to call it," Ramsey said. "Now certainly we do protect our religions, but at the same time this is something we are going to have to face." This kind of religious bigotry has been growing in prominence in Texas as well. Shortly after the 2006 elections, David Barton of the far-right group WallBuilders wrote that Americans were justifiably concerned that Minnesotans had elected a Muslim, Keith Ellison, to Congress: "After all, America and Americans are currently the target of attacks by members of the same Islamic faith that Ellison professes; and while Ellison may not hold the same specific beliefs as America’s enemies, he nevertheless holds the same religion. . . . Ellison may not have the same beliefs as the Muslims who openly decry and even attack America; nevertheless, their behavior reflects on him. It is therefore understandable that citizens outside his district are highly concerned." Read More

Here's a new one for the "why it's a bad idea to allow ideologues to write history standards" file -- a file that is growing by the day, thanks to the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). Today's example comes from the Rev. Peter Marshall, appointed earlier this year by far-right SBOE members Barbara Cargill, R-The Woodlands, and Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, to the "expert" panel advising the board on new social studies curriculum standards. (Read about Marshall's appalling lack of qualifications here.) Marshall writes a weekly commentary on his "Peter Marshall Ministries" Web site, which typically consists of boiler-plate attacks on liberals, communists and moderate Republicans, all of whom supposedly pose an imminent threat to America's very existence (in Marshall's bizarre theology, at any rate). In this week's commentary -- entitled "Alien Invasion" --  Marshall proposes an alarming solution to the tragic shooting in Fort Hood: Apparently, there are about 4000 Muslims in the United States Military. They should be immediately examined -- all of them. Now before you go and jump to the conclusion that Marshall is suggesting the government round up American Muslims and force them into detention camps (à la the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II), let's hear him out. Read More

We have already told you about David Barton and Peter Marshall, the two absurdly unqualified “experts” placed on a  social studies curriculum panel by far-right members of the Texas State Board of Education. Now other bloggers have been looking at Marshall’s claims downplaying the influence of Enlightenment thinkers — and promoting the Bible’s influence — on the Founders’ writing of the Constitution.

Ed Brayton, whose Dispatches from the Culture Wars blog has kept an eye on the curriuclum battles in Texas, reports about Marshall’s nonsense here. He provides links to some interesting background on Marshall’s claims. Some bloggers are reporting that Marshall has distorted the work of a University of Houston scholar in an effort to promote those claims. Check it out.… Read More

The New York Times

In the past year, at least 5 states and numerous cities have joined a long list of places to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Here are some localities that will be formally honoring it for the first time – and what it took to get there.