The War on Neil Armstrong

Once again, the Texas affiliate of the far-right group Focus on the Family is having trouble getting its facts straight. This week the group is criticizing “the media and Austin liberals” for “distorting” the debate over the State Board of Education’s revision of social studies curriculum standards for public schools. The group is urging that the state board keep the names of “many notable figures in Texas and American History” in the new social studies standards, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon.

Well, we don’t know any “Austin liberals” who want Armstrong removed from the standards. And TFN doesn’t want him out either. So perhaps it would be better for far-right pressure groups to direct their criticism toward their own ranks — and there’s a good reason for that.

See, it was actually the Rev. Peter Marshall — the absurdly unqualified ideologue appointed by the state board’s religious-right faction to a panel of so-called “experts” — who recommended dropping Armstrong from a history standard listing “famous inventors and scientists.” He did so when he reviewed the current standards, which have been in place for more than a decade.

In fact, Marshall called the standard’s original list of scientists, including Armstrong, “pathetic.” “The only ones worthy of inclusion are George Washington Carver and Thomas Edison,” he wrote. Then he suggested adding a number of other names, including Henry Ford and Alexander Graham Bell, but not Armstrong. And guess what? The curriculum writers took Marshall’s advice, dropping those he wanted out and adding those he wanted in. (Click here for an archive of drafts, reviews and other documents from the curriculum revision process.)

Now far-right groups who support Marshall’s status as an “expert” are complaining and pointing fingers at others. It’s hard to take these critics seriously when they simply don’t know what they’re talking about. Of course, they really don’t care anyway. They’re just trying to poison the process so that it will be easier to politicize what our children learn in their social studies classrooms. After all, they tried the same thing with their phony “war on Christmas” hysteria a couple of weeks ago. It’s all part of the same charade.

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4 Comments

  1. Charles
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Hi Robert. When I was in school, the history teachers would not teach what they called “current events,” which was anything that happened within the past 25 years of whatever school year they were in at the time—even if they were in the textbook. Some textbook companies may have figured that out and just deleted current events to save production time and money on the books. That’s just a guess on my part—could be dead wrong.

  2. Robert Bohmfalk
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Where were the religious right in 1978? That was the first time I testified at a textbook hearing. I was looking for what the history textbook did NOT have, instead of what they had. In two of the American History textbooks up for adoption that year ( for the high school level) they did not have Neil Armstrong or man’s landing on the moon. One of those books also had only 2 pages of the Vietnam War, and one paragraph on Watergate. Students who were unlucky to get those books to learn history probably became Republicans. The G.O.P. will try to “white wash” American History. We need to make sure that our students are taught the TRUTH, no matter how bad or embarrassing it is. Some of us were fighting the religious right before there were a Texas Freedom Network and People for the American Way. Robert Bohmfalk, Seguin, Texas.

  3. Charles
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    A simple lie is bad enough by itself. However, a survey of the holy scriptures indicates CLEARLY that lies and deception told by religious leaders and religious organizations that purport to support God are looked down on with a special grimness. The Book of Jeremiah is especially important in this regard because Jeremiah goes after the lies spoken by religious leaders who are prophesying falsely to achieve assorted ends. The Religious Right would do well to heed these warnings (and this is not even a complete list):

    A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies. (Proverbs 14: 5)

    Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies (Psalms 40: 4)

    The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. (Psalms 58: 3)

    But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped. (Psalms 63:11)

    He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. (Psalms 101:7)

    A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies. (Proverbs 14: 5)

    A true witness delivereth souls: but a deceitful witness speaketh lies. (Proverbs 14:25)

    A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. (Proverbs 19: 5)

    A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish. (Proverbs 19: 9)

    If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked. (Proverbs 29: 2)

    Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: (Proverbs 30: 8)

    The ancient and honourable, he is the head; and the prophet that teacheth lies, he is the tail. (Isaiah 9:15)

    Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: (Isaiah 28: 15)

    Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. (Isaiah 28: 17)

    And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9: 3)

    And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity. (Jeremiah 9: 5)

    Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart. (Jeremiah 14: 14)

    And thou, Pashur, and all that dwell in thine house shall go into captivity: and thou shalt come to Babylon, and there thou shalt die, and shalt be buried there, thou, and all thy friends, to whom thou hast prophesied lies. (Jereliah 20: 6)

    I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. (Jeremiah 23: 25)

    How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; (Jeremiah 23: 26)

    Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.

    Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 23: 22)

    Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye have spoken vanity, and seen lies, therefore, behold, I am against you, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekial 13: 8)

    And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I am the Lord GOD. (Ezekial 13: 9)

    Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. (Hosea 7: 13)

    Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity; ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in the multitude of thy mighty men. (Hosea 10: 13)

    Thus saith the LORD; For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because they have despised the law of the LORD, and have not kept his commandments, and their lies caused them to err, after the which their fathers have walked: (Amos 2: 4)

    The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid. (Zephaniah 3: 13)

    And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth. (Zechariah 13:3)

    Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. (John 8: 34)

  4. jdg
    Posted October 1, 2009 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I just love how the Jonathan saenz group continues to break the “thou shall not lie” thingy.

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