Saturday, August 22, 2009

Revisionist History, Texas Style

The Texas State Board of Education seems to be worried that children aren’t bored enough by history, so they’ve decided to make it even more tedious. According to a proposed new set of guidelines for history textbooks, “Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority — but nothing about liberals.”

The first draft for proposed standards in United States History Studies Since Reconstruction says students should be expected “to identify significant conservative advocacy organizations and individuals, such as Newt Gingrich, Phyllis Schlafly and the Moral Majority.”

Phyllis Schlafly? Good God. What have the children of Texas done to deserve this kind of torture? Isn’t the Texas State Board of Education familiar with the clause in the Constitution forbidding cruel and unusual punishment?

This kind of thing has become so blandly typical of today’s conservatives it hardly merits any comment at all (and, according to the article in the Houston Chronicle, the guidelines probably won’t even pass). It’s just another example of how the far right is running scared and has to resort to force in order to keep their ideas in circulation, whether by showing up to town hall meetings packing heat or coercing children to memorize the names of their ten-cent heroes. It’s the desperate, sputtering gasp of a dying movement.

The fact that conservatives want Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly in history books is a tacit admission that they are, in fact, history baby! Engraving them in high school textbooks is the shortest and surest way to ensure that they’ll be forgotten and ignored by an entire generation of young Americans. Once the school system turns them into plastic icons like the Founding Fathers, the very mention of their names will induce fidgeting and/or drowsiness. With any luck, it might even foster a bit of rebellion. This thought comforts me.

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