Thursday, September 25, 2014

Dear conservatives, be careful what you ask for

A member of Colorado’s Jefferson County School Board, which includes Denver-area schools, has written a proposal urging high school U.S. history classes to teach positive aspects of U.S. history and its heritage. According to the wording of the proposal, teaching materials should "promote citizenship, patriotism ... (and) respect for authority" and not "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." In other words, cleanse American history of any unpleasant truths like slavery or Native American genocide or dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Understandably, many students and parents are outraged by the proposed changes, and students from seven Denver-area schools walked out of classes on Tuesday and Wednesday in protest. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. Christian fundamentalists have been infiltrating school boards across the country for years in order to push their religious agenda into our children’s classrooms. Texas is an especially egregious example. 

The Denver proposal is Orwell’s Ministry of Truth made real, where history is rewritten to conform to the government-approved version of events. It is an attempt to pull the curtain down on the ugly, violent episodes of our past and pretend they never happened. Truth becomes what the government says it is.

This is, of course, not education but indoctrination. Instead of opening young minds to the world as it is, the mistakes that have been made, and possibly how they might make things better in the future, they would be force-fed historical fantasies and American exceptionalism until they became unquestioning, God-fearing little robots.

And here’s the thing; it’s been tried before. In the 1950s we were made to say the pledge of allegiance every morning, were treated to highly sanitized versions of American history and repeatedly told the importance of respecting authority.

Then came the 1960s…

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