Whitewashing History?

One of the most heated exchanges during Friday’s debate by Texas State Board of Education members over new social studies curriculum standards came during discussion on a standard about women and ethnic minorities working to overcome discrimination in the past.

The proposed standard for high school U.S. history read: “Explain actions taken by people from different racial, ethnic, gender and religious groups to expand economic opportunities and political rights in American society.” Board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, moved to strike the words “racial, ethnic, gender and religious,” arguing that they were redundant because the standard already said “various groups.”

The Texas Tribune provides an excellent recap of what happened:

“It’s not redundant to me,” retorted board member Mavis Knight (D-Dallas), who is African-American. “Because the racial and gender groups you are trying to strike overcame great obstacles to make great contributions. … This board is rewriting history, wanting to sanitize anything that might reflect negatively on our country.”

When board member Barbara Cargill (R-The Woodlands) backed McLeroy, arguing that such exploring of minority groups detracted from teaching students about “the melting pot,” Knight was momentarily speechless. “I need a moment … I need to gather myself,” she told chair Gail Lowe (R-Lampasas), who thanked her for her decorum.

“You would have us think we’re in some kind of Utopia that didn’t exist,” Knight continued, after a pause. “Look at what ‘groups’ in society do to keep other ‘groups’ from achieving.You made laws. You burned down something called ‘Black Wall Street’ because you didn’t want them to achieve. … I’m sorry. I have to stop.”

McLeroy’s amendment failed on a 7-7 tie vote. Lowe, a member of the board’s far-right faction along with McLeroy and Cargill, chaired the meeting and declined to vote on amendments. She later told a reporter, however, that she will vote when failed and new amendments are reconsidered at a future meeting.

Efforts to put a conservative slant on racial issues in American history didn’t stop with McLeroy’s amendment. Board member Cynthia Dunbar, R-Richmond, moved to strike early-20th century black activist Marcus Garvey (along with Clarence Darrow, the pro-science attorney in the Scopes Monkey Trial) from the standards. When challenged by other board members about her desire to remove Garvey, Dunbar argued that he had been born in Jamaica and was eventually deported from the United States. Dunbar’s motion failed as well.

David Bradley, R-Beaumont Buna, also seemed upset by efforts of fellow board member Mary Helen Berlanga, D-Corpus Christi, to include the names of more Latinos in the standards. “If Ms. Berlanga, whose only criteria is skin color, had the votes, she would name us ‘the Hispanic Education Agency,'” he told one reporter.

And then there was a dustup over whether hip hop should be included in a standard on various musical genres that have been popular during different eras in American history. Far-right board members and other opponents demanded that hip hop be removed, suggesting that it is characterized largely by offensive “gangsta rap.” Board member Lawrence Allen, D-Houston, who is African-American, wondered if board members knew what they were talking about: “What do you think hip hop is? Maybe you are deleting something that you know nothing about.”

McLeroy’s motion to replace hip hop with country and western music failed on another 7-7 tie vote, with Lowe choosing not to vote.

Friday’s fireworks came two days after the board voted narrowly to end a public hearing on the new standards just after 6 p.m. on Wednesday even though many people who had traveled to Austin to testify still had not been able to speak before the board. Many of those who had not been able to testify were Latinos, including veterans from the American GI Forum. Berlanga and the board’s other Democrats stayed in the board room after the conclusion of the hearing to listen to testimony from the remaining speakers.

25 thoughts on “Whitewashing History?

  1. I say feed them to the national press. Let them defend themselves on the evening news, Dateline, Nightline, 60 miinutes, etc. The only way to defeat the far right lunacy of Gail Lowe’s SBOE is to hold them up to public ridicule and make them a national laughing stock. Shaming won’t work on the SBOE, but the Texas Legislature may be shamed into doing the right thing and neutering the SBOE.

    I think it has to get worse before it gets better.

    TFN, please post the proposed amedments so we can review them. I think you said in your Blog that you would.

  2. Unfortunately the horse will be out of the barn. These racist, narrow minded, hate tinged standards will be what our kids are expected to learn for the next ten years. Rick Perry turned down millions of dollars to preserve THIS? This board has shown over and over again that they listen to no one. They act with impunity and blatant disregard for edisucators and historians. The SBOE is an appalling disgrace.

  3. It would be nice to get Campbell Brown at CNN to do a story on it. I guess my only concern is that they might brush it off by just ssuming that it is the usually boring radical right BS rather than the special and unusually egregious matter that it is.

  4. A “melting pot”? That phrase is sooooo hackneyed. The U.S. is not a melting pot and never has been. It is a tossed salad.

    Maybe Christiane Amanpour might be a better choice to cover it and as an hour-long special since it will inevitably effect all of America, not just Texas.

    The scary thought is that such a special broadcast might backfire since the entire country is shifting to the right; American viewers might be more supportive of the ultra-conservatives on the TX SBOE than you think. Because more Americans than ever question evolution and global climate change, more Americans than ever are sympathetic to the Lunatic Right. Just consider the ratings such people as Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Savage enjoy, and you’ll have a terrifying picture of what the majority of America is thinking and becoming.

  5. Cytocop, ultimately reason will prevail. It always does. Though it may take a while.

    The racist Republican party’s power has its days numbered as demographics change. They can never be a majority party again on the national level without the hispanic vote. And they have done everything possible to estrange the hispanics.

    Their days of power in Texas is also numbered as the hispanic population grows in Texas. The overwhelming majority of school kids are hispanic. It is only a matter of time before they are replaced with fairer and more reasonable people. Hopefully TFN can help accelerate the process.

    The attitudes displayed by the SBOE is simply what is left of the old south. It can’t survive long term. It will wither and die as the far right ages adn demographics change.

    The thing that amazes me is how they propose these obviously racist and sexist amendments and express surprize when others note they are racist and sexist.

    They are sociopaths with no shame.

  6. It’s true that conservatives and Repugniks are sociopaths with no shame. They are also without souls or conscience. However, I’m afraid it’s just plain wrong to assume there are no conservative Hispanics.

    Consider also that there is a real good chance Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat could be taken by a Republican. Who’d have thought?? But such is the state of conservative anger and outrage against the Democrats and hatred of Obama and anything Righties see that smacks of “socialism.”

    Consider also the very high ratings of conservatives in the media. They enjoy an audience the opposition can only wish for.

    Conservativism is not restricted to the South. I just viewed a 13-minute diatribe against “leftist” politics which have ruined Detroit. See it yourself by going to Youtube and searching for “Detroit in RUINS! (Crowder goes Ghetto).” I’m from Detroit. It’s true Detroit HAS been mismanaged by its mayors and the UAW which have held too much control over the city and auto manufacturing. There is much blame to go around to everyone. But to limit Detroit’s ruin to “leftist” politics is simplistic and myopic. (Crowder should look across the River to “socialist” Canada and see how much better conditions are there). But most viewers will believe Crowder lock, stock, and barrel. Check out the comments below the video.

    I’m afraid the death of the Republican Party is greatly exaggerated.

  7. The Republican Party isn’t dead, but it is and will continue to shrink as they swing farther to the right. It may bobble back and forth a bit, but the movement is definitely further right. And the more extreme a party becomes, the smaller its membership. Long term, the further away fro the middle, the less independents and moderates will follow.

    Conservative hispanics will usually vote for moderate/conservative Democrats, not Republicans. The % of Hispanics that vote Republican is relatively small.

    You can do a little research and find that the Republicans know they must have the Hispanic vote to gain the majority again. They just don’t know what to do about it. Opposing immigration reform isn’t a good way to start.

    Long term, the Republicans will move back to the center and become more moderate. Then they won’t be a problem. The political pendulum is always in motion.

  8. PHarvey Said:

    “The attitudes displayed by the SBOE is simply what is left of the old south. It can’t survive long term. It will wither and die as the far right ages adn demographics change.”

    I think he is right, and this hearkens back to my earlier post on another thread about the inevitability of change and people trying desperately to hold onto what is familiar. Quite a tension there. Let me gab about it a bit.

    As most of you know, I grew up in a Confederate state outside of Texas in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time, many people who had actually known a Civil War veteran were still alive, including my mom who sat on her uncle’s knee as he told her about being wounded in the head at Shiloh and drinking flowing blood on the battlefield afterwards because (in his daze) he thought it was water. As you can see, I took in the stories from my mom. In addition, there were still aristocratic old ladies who referred to black people as “darkies: (pronounced dawkie). The Civil War and its outcome were major defining factors in my small town and the surrounding county. The local population, especially the upper crust, was still grieving long and deeply over the “Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Women held afternoon teas to capture a brief moment of social grandeur in a “better time.” People struggled in their jobs in hopes that they would one day be able to buy a decripit old southern mansion and restore its grandeur. The cemeteries had special areas where Confederate soldiers were buried, and people doted over them by planting Confederate flags each May. Yankees were distrusted at best, and actually fought with verbally at parties when a visiting Yank would make a disparaging comment about how much better life was back home in Indianapolis (go figure). The lost culture of the old South was pined for and its few remaining elements were mooned over like Gollam did over “little precious.” I too was part of it and caught up in it. Now, here is the good news, and Terri Leo needs to listen really closely to this.

    Eighty percent of that pining and mooning has died in the town where I grew up. The boys and girls who sat on the knees of the Confederate veterans are all dead now, my mom included, along with their memories. The 20 percent of Old South culture that remains is remembered only by my age-group peers. We will be dead in about 20 years. Some words in a few history books, an occasional roadside historical marker, and some National Register houses will be all that is left and remembered of the Old South. My birth state is a fast-growing place. In a town where nearly everyone had a Smith or Jones WASP origin in 1970, every third house is now occupied by the Przylewski family from New Jersey. Close your eyes and spit in any direction, and you will meet a Yankee whose imported culture has overwhelmed what little is left of the Old South and helped father time snuff it. All of that pining and mooning that I mentioned earlier were inadequate to save it. It could not escape the great superorganic tidal wave of cultural change that operates outside of us human beings (more than within us) and sweeps across our times—changing them—without our consent.

    So, to Terri Leo, I would say this. If you think PHarvey and I are lying or could not possibly know this, take an upper division anthropology course at your local college and find out. You are fighting a battle that cannot be won and will not be won—just like my southern parents were. Even if if I, Cytocop, PHarvey, and TFN were to jump in and help you rather than oppose you, it still could not be won. The time is coming when a woman will be the head minister at your church. More black people and other minorities will be elected President, Senator, Congressman, and Governor—even in Texas. A time is coming when history will be taught as true historians understand it—not the way you would like it to be in your dreams. A time will even come when a business suit in Texas is no longer accompanied by a cowboy hat. People will be wearing Star Trek clothes. If you think there are a lot of Hispanics in Texas now, you will be literally overrun by them in the decades to come, and there will be a Roman Catholic Church on every street corner from Corpus Christi to Amarillo and from El Paso to Dallas. The baptist faith will be a minority faith in Texas then, and you will be begging to have the U.S. Supreme Court rule in favor of the “separation of church and state” that you claim was never intended—and you will then know first hand why the founders intended it to protect you and your children. The notion that a woman’s place is in the home raising her children rather than at work will be dead with my generation. Mine is the last generation in which a considerable number of women were instilled with that notion, and those women will be dead in 25 years—along with the notion.

    Terri. I would love to still be around to see that nervous SE grin on your face when this all comes true, but I will be dead. Look for it in about 20-25 years. Better still. Don’t look for it. It will come looking for you. When it does, I hope you will remember this message and maybe shed a tear that you spent all of that time and energy fighting a loosing battle against the inevitable when you could have been doing something good with your life, like maybe adopting a Haitian orphan.

  9. Oh. I forgot to say it. I was raised to think that the high culture of the Old South was a good thing to be recaptured. I can say something now that I was not able to say when I was 16 years old. The culture of the Old South is nearly dead in the town of my youth. I am glad of it. It was a culture where a few upper crust men and women had made peace with enormous evil and had built empires on a foundation of human suffering. It can be remembered in the history books, but I don’t want any of it to return. I don’t own a gun, but if I did, I would gladly shoot the last 20 percent of the Old South in the head just to be rid of it so people can get on with their lives.

  10. Charles vividly describes the mindset of the likes of Trent Lott when he said he and MS were proud of having voted for Strom Thurmond, and that the US would have been spared all its problems since then if Thurmond — running as a segregationist — had won.
    What I’m wondering now is: Where are the calls for John Cornyn et al. to resign?
    Cornyn said Senator Reid should resign, because there’s a double standard if Lott had to resign and Reid doesn’t. What Reid said, in a racially insensitive way, was that Obama could be a successful cross-over candidate for President.
    Cornyn et al. are saying in effect that they don’t see what’s wrong with what Lott said: i.e., they don’t see it as anything different or worse than the kind of insensitivity in Reid’s remarks.
    Lott comes from the milieu of the White Citizen Councils (which I’m sure Charles knows far more about than I do).
    BTW, regarding my background: One of the nuns I had as an elementary school student in Iowa told stories about when they had to rotate on a night watch with shotguns to defend their convent against the KKK.
    Maybe there should be something about KKK anti-Catholicism in the Texas Standards?
    Or how about Harvey Milk on the “including” list of model citizens (how could anybody argue against that?).

  11. I do wish to say one thing to Cytocops (and any others who may wish to hear) about the “high ratings” of conservative media. It is a phenomena to a great deal from the fact that far right conservatives, with the exception of a small group, do not use any other media than television and am radio.

    When I think about the number of sources of information from my right wing family it is two: Fox and Rush. That’s it. So their attention goes a long way toward increasing ratings for these two groups. I get my news from tv and online a dozen or more places.

    But, on another topic, there is certainly a Rachel Maddow story here at the minimum.

  12. I thought you all might like to see this. Satan is apparently angry with Pat Robertson because of his comments about the earthquake in Haiti. Robertson stated that the Haitian people had long ago made a pact with Satan. This pact said that if Satan would rid Haiti of their French colonial masters, the people of Haiti would give themselves to Satan in gratitude. Pat says the earthquake was their punishment from God for making this alleged pact. The Minneapolis Star is reporting that they have received an irate OP-ED letter from the Prince of Darkness, and they have printed the letter in their newspaper in recent days. The open letter from Satan to Pat Robertson reads precisely as follows:

    Dear Pat Robertson

    I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I’m all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I’m no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth — glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven’t you seen “Crossroads”? Or “Damn Yankees”? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there’d be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox — that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it — I’m just saying: Not how I roll. You’re doing great work, Pat, and I don’t want to clip your wings — just, come on, you’re making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That’s working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract.



  13. Unfortunately, it’s a mistake to assume all Hispanics are Roman Catholics. They are not. A huge minority are evangelicals. And, obviously, none of you read Texas newspapers to see all the conservative editorials and letters to the editor found therein. I read letters from creationist readers who are so dumb it makes my hair stand on end. These people VOTE!

    And, while a lot of conservatives get their news only from Rush and Fox, the highest rated independent news/talk radio show host in the nation is Savage Nation, with Michael Savage. Even more popular than Rush.

    And I see none of you bothered to look at the Youtube entry I mentioned above. Steve Crowder is neither old nor Southern. The conservatives with whom I work are not old.

    Want to know the safest bet in the world to make? Bet the next governor of Texas will either be Rick Perry, the incumbent, or Kay Bailey Hutchison, his opponent; both Republicans.

    The Republican challenger for Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat is neck and neck with the Democrat.

    Wish I could be as optimistic as the rest of you but, sadly, none of you has convinced me. I remain skeptical as ever. I’m just glad I have no children in which to leave this mess of a country.

  14. Hi Cytocop. I think the worry about Coakley in Massachusetts might be misplaced. I had some panic too when I first heard the shocking news about how close the race is. Then I read the information on the eight polls. Only some of them are showing Brown ahead, and they are either party-biased polls or polls in which the underlying polling methodology is suspect for one reason or another. I could be wrong on this one, but I suspect Tuesday night may be another “Dewey Defeats Truman” that goes the right way (i.e., Coakley wins). It might be a win by only about 4 or 5 percent of the vote rather than the huge margin that was expected earlier in the year—but a win nonetheless.

    If it turns out to be about 50-50 like in Minnesota with Al Franken, it will take 3 months to recount the votes, sort it all out, make mutual court challenges in a heavily Democratic state, etc. By the time they finish up the squabbling, the health care bill will be all passed and signed.

    Then people like Mitch McConnell will have to explain to Cynthia Dunbar and the assembled fruitcake constituency why he and 39 of his colleagues, the entire health insurance industry, the entire pharmaceutical industry, the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, a legion of parapolitical organizations, the Tea Parties, conservative talk radio, a thoroughly duped American population, imprecatory prayers, and funding beyond the dreams of avarice failed to stop health care reform. In fact, if health care reform is passed and signed, that is going to be one of my key hammering themes (not here but elsewhere) going into the 2010 midterm-elections next fall. With all of that extreme firepower on board, a radical conservative failure on health care should have been impossible. Therefore, those in charge of the radical conservative movement must have failed their followers through inept and incompetent leadership. What then should happen to those inadequate men and women who dared to fail Der Fuhrer (the fruitcake populace)?

  15. Cytocop, have faith. The demographic changes eventually will catch up to them and things will change.

    Eventually, the majority of Americans are going to figure out that the so called (former) Moral Majority and the Religious Right aren’t moral, aren’t the majority, aren’t religious, and aren’t right. They are only special interest political movements using religion as a cover to advance their own agenda.

    By the way, Kay Bailey is far more moderaate than Rick Perry. I hope she wins. She has much better sense than Perry.

  16. “Lowe, a member of the board’s far-right faction along with McLeroy and Cargill, chaired the meeting and declined to vote on amendments. She later told a reporter, however, that she will vote when failed and new amendments are reconsidered at a future meeting.”

    Does that mean all of the amendments that failed due to a tie will pass in future meetings? It’s already bad enough, this will be very damaging.

    1. Ralph,
      Yes, that’s a big danger. Her colleagues among the board’s far-right faction were frustrated that she wasn’t voting last week. Based on her comments, it’s likely she will next time, and the board will likely consider failed amendments again.

  17. All the failed amendments will likely pass.

    And then we should show the state legislature exactly what their SBOE has done. The majority will be mortified. And the majority of Texan’s will be mortified as long as the press makes it an issue and clearly explains to the population what is going on. They can then be voted out of office and their power removed.

  18. It should be noted that the Race for the Top program is all about setting national educational standards. 49 states have accepted the money and will adhear to the standards. Only Texas won’t.

    This means that Textbook publishers will print texbooks for 49 states; a huge market. Texas will be a small market for the publishers and it may be much harder for the SBOE to sway them. So the SBOE will only be able to damage Texas, not other states.

  19. I am going to write to the state and local school authorities in my state, tell them what has been going on in Texas, and ask them not to purchase any textbooks that are based on the Texas social studies curriculum standards. If people in the 49 other states raise a stink about it, it will look bad for Texas (which it is) and no one else will want to have anything to do with it outside of Texas.

  20. I’m with Eric. Though I’ve already decided to remove my kids from the PS. I wouldn’t trust these crazy people with my children.

  21. This country is neither a “melting pot” (in which everything turns into a homogeneous mixture) or a “tossed salad” (which is totally heterogeneous). It’s a “stew pot”, because if you take out something that’s been in it for a while, it’s not quite the same as when you put it in.

  22. Well, though nobody will admit it, I’ve been vindicated: Sen. Kennedy’s seat has been taken by the Republican. I almost predicted it.

    This loss will teach Democrats to continue to pander to the right as they and the president have done ever since he was inaugurated. They understand that this country is moving to the right (as I have said here several times). Why do you think the TX SBOE is populated mostly by conservatives and Christian conservatives? And why do you think they are usually getting what they want? Because that is what the majority population wants!!

    Last January Democrats were empowered, and the Republicans were discouraged. Now the situation has completely reversed: Republicans are enthusiastic and Democrats demoralized. Democrats will continue to move to the right in order to get votes. They will drop progressive agenda like a hot potato.

    America will continue to be dominated by Corporateamerica. In fact, that progression will accelerate. Government will become more and more irrelevant – just as conservatives want. That is exactly why conservatives say government is evil, it does not work. Because that is the conservative agenda: quit funding the government. Understaff government, put the least qualified people in government, and pay them nothing. That will surely kill government.

    And when Corporateamerica totally kills government until it’s just a figurehead – which it basically is already – then watch Corporateamerica kill all your rights as an employee. OSHA: gone. FDA: gone. Equal Opportunity: gone. Then they’ll chip away the most basic rights of an employee; those rights that were brought to us by the unions. We the employed will basically become nothing more than serfs, totally at the mercy of our employers – which is basically already the case.

    Oh, and by the way, if an ingredient is removed from a tossed salad, the salad is no longer the same as it was when that ingredient was part of the mix. So, I don’t understand why my salad metaphor was considered so wrong. But I’m becoming accustomed to being contradicted here.