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14 March 2010

An Open Letter to the Texas "Bored" of Education

Okay, the fundamentalist fucktards in Texas have managed to totally screw up text books... While people on twitter have been (rightly) mocking these slackjawed mental reprobates with the #tesastextbookfacts hash tag, something needs to be done. The national supplier of textbooks is based in Texas, and in general, what they do there affects the rest of the nation. I cannot express my outrage and utter disappointment in how these cretins are behaving. These people need to be fired, and locked up in a mental institution!

If you want to write to these mental midgets, of of the morons has even put up his name and address for further ridicule:
David Bradley
2165 North Street
Beaumont, TX 77701
(409) 835-3808
sboesupport@tea.state.tx.us
It is worth to note that he will also donate $1000 to a charity of your choice if you can show that there is something called a separation of church and state in the US Constitution (I think the anti establishment clause of the the First Amendment does that quite well, although a slimy weasel like this idiot will of course say it doesn't apply).

Here is a nice letter that I found that we should send him (And there isn't even a mention of Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli):
The state of Texas is one of our Nation's largest -- and thus, is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. Therefore, the standards set by the Texas board of education may very well dictate the content of all textbooks available for the entire US market. This year, that very board held their once-a-decade revision of standards for their textbooks -- and we have many reasons to be worried.

James McKinley Jr. at the NYT has done an excellent job of covering the facts of the proposed changes to the Texas standards, and I invite you to read his piece. However, the facts do not appropriately outline the danger presented by the board's decisions.

The danger is beyond left or right political leaning -- it lies between fact and fiction. As a former high school teacher, I can tell you that biased interpretation masquerading as fact is the most detrimental to a young child's education. While teachers frequently use interpretive analysis as secondary source material, it is to their textbooks that students retreat for their analytical 'north' when beginning their analysis of those more biased essays. Perhaps, after the Texas' board decision, they will not have that opportunity.

“We are adding balance,” said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. “History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left.”
Mr. McLeroy's solution? Swing the pendulum back -- past the center -- to the right. The Texas board has decided that the past needs a reinterpretation in its textbooks -- a bit of conservative revisionist history...


The outcome?

1. A questioning of whether the founding fathers sought a separation of Church and State in the US Constitution.

From the NYT:
“I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state,” said David Bradley, a conservative from Beaumont who works in real estate. “I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.”
Mr. Bradley, with all due respect, the separation of church and state can be found in Article 6, and the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution.

From Article Six:
"no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States"
From the First Amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"
Sure Mr. Bradley -- the words "separation of church and state" aren't there -- but lets think, just for a second, about this. If religion cannot be a precursor to public office, or to citizenship -- and Congress cannot pass laws on the establishment of a state religion, or stop people from worshiping freely -- where can religion and state not be separated?

Maybe we should let Mr. Madison -- the original author of the document -- say his piece.
Having always regarded the practical distinction between Religion and Civil Government as essential to the purity of both, and as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States, I could not have otherwise discharged my duty on the occasion which presented itself (Letter to Baptist Churches in North Carolina, June 3, 1811).
Not enough for you sir? Perhaps here:
Every new and successful example, therefore, of a perfect separation between the ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance; and I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together (Letter to Edward Livingston, July 10, 1822).
You see, Mr. Bradley, I got out of school before you textbooks could hit my desk. You can contact me at demagoguesanddictators@gmail.com, and we can hash out what charity you can make the check out to. Simply title your email "eating crow".

2. The teaching of sexual identity, eating disorders, and rape as a result "choice".
“The topic of sociology tends to blame society for everything,” Ms. Cargill [a conservative board member] said.
Dear Ms. Cargill -- I, and I think all of my readers, are very happy that you never made the decision to be raped. We are glad that you never made the choice to be afflicted with mental illness (as far as we can tell). We feel sorry if one of your family or friends lost connection after they "chose" to become homosexual. But mostly, we are sorry that somehow you got to decide what can be defined as "choice". I can say that I will happily contribute to anyone willing to challenge you in your next election.

3. The rejuvination of McCarthyism.
Texas standards now require that Sen. McCarthy's story must now include
“how the later release of the Venona papers confirmed suspicions of communist infiltration in U.S. government.”
Don McLeroy, a school board member, recently sent a memo to curriculum writers with the following:
“Read the latest on McCarthy — He was basically vindicated.”
Ah, the Venona Papers are back! The papers detail the findings of the covert operation (code named Venona) to uncover Soviet spies in the United States. While they detail the (gasp) Soviet attempts to penetrate the US government, they fall far short of any McCarthy vindication. I'll let Prof. Harvey Klehr, the author of Venona: Decoding Soviet Espionage in America cover this one for me:
Virtually none of the people that McCarthy claimed or alleged were Soviet agents turn up in Venona. He did identify a few small fry who we now know were spies but only a few. And there is little evidence that those he fingered were among the unidentified spies of Venona. Many of his claims were wildly inaccurate; his charges filled with errors of fact, misjudgments of organizations and innuendos disguised as evidence. He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies — distinctions that were important to make. The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but na├»ve people that the who led anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.

Have you no decency, Mr. McLeroy?

4. The emphasis of how Conservatives were responsible for Civil Rights legislation.
Again, from the NYT:
Dr. McLeroy, a dentist by training, pushed through a change to the teaching of the civil rights movement to ensure that students study the violent philosophy of the Black Panthers in addition to the nonviolent approach of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also made sure that textbooks would mention the votes in Congress on civil rights legislation, which Republicans supported.

“Republicans need a little credit for that,” he said. “I think it’s going to surprise some students.”

Shockingly, I actually agree with Dr. McLeroy here -- but only to a point. History should be studied in its exactness. Those Republicans who stood for de-segregation deserve our praise, and those few in the Black Panther movement who undertook violent actions deserve our criticism. But, it is important to point out that the Republican party of Ida Wells is no more. Will the history books also mention that in the 109th Congress has 43 black Democrats — and not a single black Republican? To make civil rights a partisan fight between democrat and republican is to do history a dishonor -- it was a fight between north and south, and any history book that ignores this does so at its own peril.

I could continue here, speaking about the board's vote against including more Latino figures in its historical texts, or its declaration that curriculum must subvert the Enlightenment as the motivator for the Atlantic Revolutions. I could talk about the dilemma of voting down a plank that would have students study the reasons that
“the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”

but requiring the study of the unintended consequences of Title IX legislation.

The fact is, this is a troubling series of changes to the Texas Curriculum. I say that not as an offended liberal -- but as someone who values learning. Textbooks in this nation must be based on fact -- not opinion. If people feel that textbooks are too "liberal", then let us revise those sections to bring them closer to fact, not include more "conservative" talking points in an attempt to balance one type of falsehood with another. This kind of revisionism is merely slapping red BS onto blue. It serves no purpose other than the confusion or mis-education of our youth. As students seek to master the basic facts of history and sociology, they will now be forced into the very grown up world of propagandistic partisanship, without the information to analyse these opinions for themselves.

I fear when bias gives way to propaganda -- and when that propaganda is taught as fact. In my textbooks I learned that
"Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round"
That is from Mein Kampf -- p. 376

7 comments:

JD Curtis said...

Of course you were just getting around to mentioning that the Establishment Clause only prohibited the establishment of an official religion at the federal level and the states were free to decide on their own, werent you?

What was the official religion of the state of Massachussetts until 1833?

Larian LeQuella said...

Primitive childhood beliefs for primitive times. And Massachusetts was still wrong in that regard since it was violating federally protected rights of citizens within its state's borders. A more federalist approach has been clearly established in constitutional law.

And again, read the Treaty of Tripoli, Article 11 (NOT on conservipedia since their entry is a blatant 100% lie...)

JD Curtis said...

Why do you cite the Treaty of Tripoli? The Treaty of Paris was a much more important treaty. It officially ended the Revolutionary War and Britain recognized the US for the first time. It begins... In the name of the most holy and undivided Trinity, amen

Why isnt that mentioned on atheist websites Lunk?

Furthermore, what were such "freethinkers" as Jefferson and Madison doing, by permitting and participating in evangelical religious services inside the US Capitol Bldg?

"It is no exaggeration to say that on Sundays in Washington during the administrations of Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809) and of James Madison (1809-1817) the state became the church. Within a year of his inauguration, Jefferson began attending church services in the House of Representatives. Madison followed Jefferson's example, although unlike Jefferson, who rode on horseback to church in the Capitol, Madison came in a coach and four. Worship services in the House--a practice that continued until after the Civil War--were acceptable to Jefferson because they were nondiscriminatory and voluntary. Preachers of every Protestant denomination appeared. (Catholic priests began officiating in 1826.) As early as January 1806 a female evangelist, Dorothy Ripley, delivered a camp meeting-style exhortation in the House to Jefferson, Vice President Aaron Burr, and a "crowded audience." Throughout his administration Jefferson permitted church services in executive branch buildings. The Gospel was also preached in the Supreme Court chambers." Link

Larian LeQuella said...

A common salutation. And keep in mind that it is a treaty with a counbtry that had stron catholic roots, and that particular opening line is strongly embedded in catholicism. Does that mean that everyone is now automatically catholic? And where does that line EXPLICITLY SAY something about any sort of religion? Read article 11:

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion,—as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen,—and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Rather hard to weasel that out...

And you finally quote a source that isn't from some dimwitted apologist, maybe you are teachable. Although, you stopped the quote to serve your purposes. Lies of omission for jebus, eh?

Jefferson's actions may seem surprising because his attitude toward the relation between religion and government is usually thought to have been embodied in his recommendation that there exist "a wall of separation between church and state." In that statement, Jefferson was apparently declaring his opposition, as Madison had done in introducing the Bill of Rights, to a "national" religion. In attending church services on public property, Jefferson and Madison consciously and deliberately were offering symbolic support to religion as a prop for republican government.


Sort of changes the context now, doesn't it?

JD Curtis said...

Rather hard to weasel that out

Not really Lunkster. What does the article state? Given the Establishment Clause, it would not be catagorically false to say that this wasnt (officially) a Christian nation, so to speak.

Secondly, since the Barbary States broke the treaty and after the new treaty was reworked 11 years later, this time with the US negotiating from a postion of strength instead of previous weakness, we see that the wording of article 11 is strangely absent. I wonder why.....

Do any of the atheist sites that you frequent address this question?

JD Curtis said...

A common salutation. And keep in mind that it is a treaty with a counbtry that had stron catholic roots, and that particular opening line is strongly embedded in catholicism.

1. Britain is Anglican, not Catholic

2. The Trinity is not unique to Catholicism

Larian LeQuella said...

Actually, this was written by Ben Franklin (arguably the closest to an out and out atheist as any founding father could be) while dealing with the French (whom I referred to as the Catholics in this equation, although the Spanish also had a strong catholic tradition). I can only surmise it was something included as a flowery wording for their benefit.

Although the word "trinity" is used by most Christian groups, it appears nowhere in the bible, and the concept is difficult to support biblically. It was first used by Christians more than a century after the birth of Christianity, probably by Tertullian (145-220). The current doctrine of "one God in three persons" is not found in the bible, although some think they find it in verses where the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are mentioned together. (See II Corinthians 13:14). Again, it is most strongly associated with pedophiles, I mean catholics.

As for the treaty of tripoli, the later exclusion as well as the breaking of the treaty, it is disheartening, but still not troubling. When the first treaty WITH the language was ratified, it was passed with a 100% unanimous vote. It was also read in public squares and open for all citizens to see. There are no recorded incidents of teabaggers or other "patriots" getting upset about article 11. As if it was a well known fact to the people of that day and age who actually helped form this SECULAR nation.