The ‘Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy’

We told you last week that Texas State Board of Education members and their appointees helping revise social studies curriculum standards have embarked on a campaign of blanket smears and unhinged rants against just about everyone else involved in the process. One of those appointees, Bill Ames, has yet another column up on the conservative Web site Texas Insider in which he attacks as “leftists” teachers who are associated with one of the largest and most respected social studies educator groups in the country. He then manufactures a vast, left-wing conspiracy, with the Texas Freedom Network at the center of a web of “leftists” at the Texas Council for the Social Studies (TCSS), various teacher organizations and even professional staff at the Texas Education Agency:

“(T)he ideological, political, and even some financial links among TFN-TCSS-teachers’ unions-TEA staff-review panels-and SBOE liberals seem unmistakable.”

Oh please. He must have forgotten to throw in “communists” and “fellow travelers” to the conspiracy mix.

But seriously, Mr. Ames is doing all he can to make the John Birchers of the 1950s and 1960s look almost moderate in comparison with his own political extremism. (And we can thank board member Don McLeroy, R-College Station, for appointing this guy to a curriculum writing panel.)

In his column, Mr. Ames presumes to know the personal politics of most of the 100+ members of the writing teams (pretty much all leftists, he suggests). He then complains that there are few appointees of the board’s conservative members. Really? Republicans board members Bob Craig, Pat Hardy and Geraldine “Tincy” Miller nominated more than a third of the 100 writing team members. When you add the nominees that came from far-right board members — McLeroy, Gail Lowe and Barbara Cargill — conservatives ended up naming about two-thirds of the writing team members. (The panels are formally called “Review Committees,” and lists of their members can be found here.)

Perhaps Mr. Ames should direct his criticism to three far-right board members — Terri Leo, Cynthia Dunbar and Ken Mercer — who didn’t nominate anyone to the writing panels. Those three couldn’t be bothered to spend the time to talk to and then recommend teachers, academics and other community members who wanted to serve on the panels.

In any case, it’s important to remember: the board’s far-right members and their appointees (like Mr. Ames, David Barton and Peter Marshall) were the ones to suggest that students shouldn’t learn about important civil rights leaders like Thurgood Marshall and Cesar Chavez. They are the ones who have alleged that there is an “over-representation of minorities” in the standards. They want students to learn that Joseph McCarthy was a “hero” instead of the deceitful and discredited smear artist he was. They are demanding that social studies classes undermine religious freedom by teaching students that the Founders wanted our nation’s laws to be based on a fundamentalist reading of the Bible. And they are the ones who have suggested that anyone who opposes them — including classroom teachers — are anti-Christian “leftists” and “educrats.”

Yet Mr. Ames charges:

“The politicizing is coming from these left-leaning, history-rewriting groups that attempt to invent negative, revisionist history, while conducting aggressive smear campaigns and personal attacks on any Texas conservative whose views of a positive America or Texas stands in their way.”

The vast, left-wing conspiracy is alive and well — but only in the narrow-minded perspectives of people like Mr. Ames.

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23 Comments

  1. Ben
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Here’s one more, from The Hagerstown Mail, dated April 2, 1830. The article is about a law proposing that mail not be delivered on Sunday–a request made by some christians, in an effort to honor the sabbath. The writer goes to great lengths to describe why this is a bad idea, but the highlight–one of many–is this paragraph:

    With the exception of the United
    States, the whole human race, consisting,
    it is supposed, of eight hundred
    millions of rational beings, is in religious
    bondage; and, in reviewing the
    scenes of persecution which history
    every whrre presents, unless the Committee
    could believe lhat the cries of
    the burning victim, and the flames, by
    which he is’consumed, bear to Heaven
    a grateful incense, the conclusion is inevitable,
    that the line cannot be too
    stronglv drawn between Church and
    state

    Earlier, when describing why separation is so important, the writer said:

    The catastrophes
    of other nations furnished the framers
    of the constitution a beacon of awful
    warning and they have evinced the
    greatest possible care in guarding against the
    same evil

  2. Ben
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a snippet from an article in The Oregonian, dated January 31, 1887.

    WHERE THE REAL DANGER WOULD BE.
    Those Catholics who object to the public
    schools, denouncing them as “Godless” because
    they do not give religious Instruction, have a
    considerable amount of Protestant support
    Thus, the last work of the noted Dr. A. A. Hodge
    was an article that appeared In the Princeton
    Review, on “Religion in the public schools.”
    Dr. Hodge was a Presbyterian and high Calvin-
    1st; he was a very able man, whose line of
    study and thought as professor of dogmatic theology
    at Princeton would be likely to lead him
    to exaggerate the importance of pushing at all
    ‘points the religious and theological doctrines to
    which’ such a man would be deeply devoted. It
    was Dr. Hodge’s opinion that under our present
    •school system there lurks a great danger to the
    •state, because the schools do not promote religion
    as well as intelligence “The danger,”
    said he, “arises from the weak and sickly senti
    «mentalism respecting the transcendental spirituality
    of religion, the non-religious character of
    the state, and the supposed equitable rights of a
    small Infidel minority ”
    But that is not the whole difflcally Admit that
    religion is of transcendental importance go
    farther and admit that ‘the infidel minority’
    have no rights that believers are bound to respect;
    disregard the views and feelings of the
    Jews and others, who, though devout religion-
    Ifite, yet do not accept C hristianlty, and let It be
    granted that we are to have a Christian stale
    What then? Is it possible to imagine that all
    Christians Will come to a common understanding
    on a basis of Christianity, to ba recogn’zed
    and taught In all public schools? It is a preposterous
    Idea. The Chriali&n denominations
    would not be so bitter even against Turks and
    Infidels as against each other.
    It 16 easy to proceed In this style of lament,
    Vis. “Owing to difference ot opinion between
    -Protestants and Catholics as to what version of
    the bible stall be need, that book has been banished
    from onr common schools. Owing to an
    extreme and Illogical stretching of the principle
    of separation between church and state all
    school text books have been emasculated by
    taking all religious references and tendencies
    out of them. So far OF possible, they hava been
    made absolutely agnostic. The reading books
    no lodger hare selections from the bible, from
    “* UUtoBf from any classical authors in which even
    so nntob as God’s providence is acknowledge^.
    Teachers are not allowed to Inculcate even the
    least religions principled The schools have bacome
    godless.” It Is easy, we say, to proceed in
    thto Btyto of lament, but It Is thoughtless, irrelevant,
    fruitless. Agreement is Impossible, except
    on the basis of carrying on the public
    schools without religions teaching therein, and
    leaving religious teaching to the family, to the
    church and to such other instrumentalities as
    may be appointed or used for that purpose.
    People will cut each other’s throats upon
    religious differences with more ferocity than on
    any other differences whatever. If religion is
    to be taught In the schools, questions will arise
    at once on the form and quality of the religion,
    and there will be contention for control of the
    government as a means of directing the schools
    and propagating religious doctrines.

  3. Ben
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    The following is an excerpt from a direct scan of an issue of the Iowa State Reporter, dated November 4, 1874. The topic is various tax breaks for churches. Typos result from cut-and-paste from the scan.

    This is a practice which should not
    continue, and for this, among other reasons,
    that the exempted propertv, by no
    labor or effort of thy society, may” become
    enormously enhanced in value, and bc
    sold at that increased value solely for the
    benefit of the holders. This point has
    been strongly urged in the discussion upon
    the disposition of the Old Soutb
    Church in Boston, and the proposition
    has .been made, which the report to the
    New York Legislature will undoubtedly
    consider, that no increased value in tbe
    sale of exempted property shall be devoted
    to secular or non charitable purpuses.
    This, as Mr. J. P. Quincy has
    suown, is mere spoliation, and should be
    absolutely prohibited. The mischiefs of
    this exemption are apparent enough in
    New York, where most valuable real e.–
    tate has been given by Democratic governments
    to tbe priests of the Rornau
    Churcb in order to secure the Roman
    Catholic vote for the Democratic party.
    The true American rule is that every
    churcb shall maintain itself, buying
    property at a fair market value,’ paying
    the just taxes upon it, and selling it foi
    ihe best price it can command. If the
    State, or tbe body of tax payers, had established
    a church, it might endow it
    and privilege it as it thought best. But
    as the American principle wisely ordains
    an absolute separation of church and
    state, the exemption of church property
    from taxation should be forbidden, of
    course in a manner which will not inter
    fere with established rights, and which
    will be just to all the interests concerned.

  4. Ben
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Dallas,

    My political views are near the center. Yours are not. You want to build a theocracy. Can you think of anyone whom you’d label as a “right-wing zealot?” If not, then there’s a good chance you’re a zealot yourself.

    I label your views as radical because they ARE radical. My views reflect mainstream society, yours don’t. Pretty simple.

    Do I get emotional? Sure I do. Because religious zealots like you try to impose your will on the rest of society. It pisses me off. Can I back up my emotions with facts? Sure I can. Your expansion on the Treaty of Tripoli did not change the fact that it specifically says we are NOT founded on Christianity.

    What about Mohammed at the Supreme Court? He’s there. That’s a fact. Does that mean we are a Muslim nation? No. Nor does Moses in the frieze mean we are a Christian nation. Your references to christian symbols in government buildings were misleading. Do you admit that now?

    Regarding the TEA and textbooks: TFN addressed your original comments logically and sensibly. If they said anything that was incorrect, please point it out and back it up with evidence.

    Consider myself dismissed? Here’s an idea. Pray to your god to dismiss me from this site. Meanwhile, Charles can pray for his god to keep me here. We’ll see which one of you comes out on top.

  5. Dallas Benson
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Ben:

    Why is it that you are incapable of having a conversation based on facts without emotion? Should we count time times that you have used the words zealot, religion, hypocritical, smug, self-righteous, judgmental, intolerant, arrogant and dogmatic? Why is it you characterize someone who has an opposing view as radical? Who is it between the two of us that is being judgmental and self righteous when I have not made one character attack against you? Among the two of us, who is it that keeps trying to deviate from the topic of TEA and student textbooks? Who among the two of us has completed monopolized this conversation to further their political views?

    Don’t even bother answering. Consider yourself dismissed. I started a conversation on TEA and textbooks. If anyone wants to discuss those things then that is fine but beyond that I am not going to participate in your mud throwing. Funny thing is, the more I try to stay on focus and stick to the facts… the more mud you throw.

    I was not going to respond any further, but I wanted to clarify for anyone that may be reading the inaccuracy in your statements concerning the Treaty of Tripoli. You can certainly take the statement out of context and make it read “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” But the sentence does not stop there, does it Ben? Read its entirety and concluded when the punctuation so indicates it reads:

    “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 [hatred] against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen [Muslims] and as the said States [America] have 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. ”

    Article XI simply distinguishes America from the hatred of Muslims exhibited by European Chrisians; that the U.S. was not a Christian nation like those of previous centuries and that we would not undertake a religious holy war against them.

    For those who are interested in a well written article on the history of the Treaty of Tripoli please see

    http://www.wallbuilders.com/LIBissuesArticles.asp?id=125.

  6. Ben
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    By the way, as far as anti-religious zealotry, do you think people like me have problems with, say, Buddhists? Am I being anti-religious if I have no problems with people like Charles or Cytocop or the other religious folks who post here? I think “anti-religious zealotry” is inaccurate. “Anti-theocrat zealotry” is much more applicable. You want a theocracy. I prefer a government based on reason.

  7. Ben
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 7:07 am | Permalink

    Dallas,

    Here’s the situation:

    Zealots are usually so hypocritical, smug, self-righteous, judgmental, intolerant, arrogant, dogmatic, and just plain immune to logic (despite your own personal claims to the contrary), that I’ve long since given up on hoping to have meaningful discussions with them. I respond to them only to vent, because they create so much frustration among non-zealots that we need to vent on occasion. So….thanks for the opportunity, I guess.

    It appears you want to answer “no” to all three questions, but you can’t quite come out and say the word.

    The quotes you used above are cherry picked. Very dishonest of you. Show your christian side and quit being dishonest. If you think Washington and Madison were against separation, you’re smoking something. Imagine if you were writing the founding documents; I bet the text would be spilling over with the words, “christian,” “jesus,” and “holy spirit.” Heck, just look at your post above and see many times you those words. But none of those words are in the Declaration or in the Constitution. For good reason. They didn’t want them in there. They knew what kind of evil it would create to found a government based on religion. The Treaty of Tripoli specifically states that we are NOT based on christianity. It doesn’t get any clearer than that.

    The bit about the inscriptions at the Supreme Court and the Washington Monument…you’re describing their intent and meaning out of context, but you probably already know that. More dishonesty. Did you know the Supreme Court also has a depiction of Confucius? Do you go around bragging about that? Did you know a frieze in the Supreme Court building includes Mohammed? I bet you never mention that to anyone.

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/capital.asp

    The funny thing is, I’m a fairly conservative guy. I’ve voted Republican almost all my life. But people like you are pushing me toward the center and making me consider more “liberal” candidates. (Although I’m betting you consider everyone outside the religious right to be “liberal.”) You might think you’re making wise political moves to rant and whine and hold your tea parties, but you’re making the Republican situation even worse. Pretty soon, the only Republicans left will be you, Glenn Beck, your fellow zealots, and a few diehards who are willing to hold their noses as they cast a ballot. Good luck with that.

  8. Dallas Benson
    Posted November 17, 2009 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    Dearest Ben,

    I find your highly reactive responses to be perhaps the most amusing that I have ever seen in my twenty odd years of following politics; your anti-religious zealotry radiates with hypocrisy.

    Despite my attempts to stay clear of both religion and politics you have responded with predictable rant monologues trying to draw me back into your irrational arguments. If you notice, I have not played into the “vast left-wing conspiracy” theory as some of the members have suggested, nor have I bought into the argument on “psychological projection.” And unlike Charles, Texas Hill Country Tom and TFN, I have not attempted to appear superior by calling others “fruitcakes”, “wackos” or “bamboozled.”

    In fact, the only points I have consistently made are:

    • Leave the politics for politics not the education of our children
    • Stop the name calling
    • Put the best interest of the children first
    • There should be truth, integrity and transparency in our children’s textbooks
    • Reports on the TEA website should be able to stand alone and be easily understood as to avoid bias interpretations

    Oooohh, you are so right, I am a proselytizing radical Christian. NOT.

    I have neither used religious words or phrases to base my concerns and/or arguments on. I have approached each conversation as an opportunity to learn and have openly put myself in a position to repeatedly risk the criticism and ridicule of people with different beliefs so that I could better understand their choices and attitudes. I have welcomed debate and differences of opinion based on factually verifiable data and attempted to listen to other people’s opinions with an open mind.

    Being that I have not made any reference to religion at all until this point one could hardly say that I have used religion for my own personal gain to further my argument or to make myself seem better than those who are, for example, anti-religious zealots.

    Finally, in reference to your “Zealot Identification Test™ (ZIT)”, despite the fact there appears to be NO registered trademark for ZITs (that statement is just wrong on so many levels), I have nothing to be ashamed of and I will happily answer your questions:

    Questions one and two can easily be rolled up into one answer:

    I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth,
    of all that is, seen and unseen. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made.
    I am enthusiastically loyal to God.

    That being said, I am neither, intolerant, aggressive, outspoken nor ignorant; likewise, had I not directly been asked of my views on evolution I would not have brought up religion in this topic.

    In reference to whether this nation was founded on Christian principles –
    Ben Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention, said: “…God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?”
    John Adams stated so eloquently during this period of time that; “The general principles on which the fathers achieved Independence were … the general principles of Christianity … I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that the general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God.”

    The intent of the First Amendment was well understood during the founding of our country. The First Amendment was not to keep religion out of government. It was to keep Government from establishing a ‘National Denomination” (like the Church of England).

    Sure doesn’t sound like Washington was trying to separate religion and politics.

    And let’s not forget the fact that the descriptions and tours of the nation’s capitol fail to point out that the Ten Commandments are inscribed in the marble of the United States Supreme Court, that there is a beautiful stained glass window in the U.S. Capitol depicting President George Washington kneeling in prayer, and that at the top of the Washington Monument – the highest point in the nation’s capital is embedded a plaque which boldly proclaims in Latin, “Praise Be Unto God.”

    I saw a quote once that said… “Arguing with an idiot is like wrestling with a pig, you both get dirty but it enjoys it more”… seems to fit in this dialogue. No matter what the evidence, no matter what the argument, you will believe what they want to believe It is not my job to convince or convict you… and I’m not in the mood to role around in the mud with you… dirty is not my style.

  9. Ben
    Posted November 16, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    Dallas,

    One thing I’ve learned about religious zealots is that they try to appear as reasonable and rational as possible. But it’s just a front to mask their real motivations. In reality, they are incredible hypocrites; they would, for instance, attempt to appear indignant about the idea of anyone making curriculum choices based on ideology, while making curriculum choices based on ideology.

    I’m not saying you’re a religious zealot, but it sure would be handy if I could know for sure, so I’d know not to waste my time discussing this with you.

    Unfortunately, most zealots don’t recognize themselves as zealots. Thankfully, we can always rely on the Zealot Identification Test™ (ZIT). It’s simply three short questions:

    1. Do you agree that the theory of evolution by natural selection is accurate and irrefutable?

    2. Do you agree that separation of church and state is a good thing?

    3. Do you agree that this country was NOT founded on Christian principles?

    Can you answer “yes” to all three? If not, you just might be a zealot.

  10. Dallas Benson
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Ben,

    I am certain you will surely understand that I prefer to not get my information from any third party source. The reports on the Texas Education Agency website should be able stand alone. The Historical Figures in Social Studies dated 17 October 2009 clearly states that entries in green are recommended additions while the items in green are recommended deletions. Any comments outside of the documents listed on TEA website are just someone’s interpretation… which we all know… can be biased.

    db

  11. Ben
    Posted November 15, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    db, I think you need to reread TFN’s comments. Just because someone isn’t listed, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are excluded.

  12. Dallas Benson
    Posted November 14, 2009 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    Dearest Ben [and TFN],

    Ben – I am sorry, my deepest apologies; let me clarify the intent of my statement, anyone, either conservative OR liberal, who politicizes something as important as our chidren’s future [i.e., education] should be ashamed.

    That being said, perhaps you are using a different dictionary than the one that we use here in our household. When I look up rebutted in the Webster’s dictionary the word “rebutted” is defined as:

    1 : to drive or beat back : repel
    2 a : to contradict or oppose by formal legal argument, plea, or countervailing proof b : to expose the falsity of : refute
    intransitive verb
    : to make or furnish an answer or counter proof

    I’m sorry, but I see no evidence to support such a statement. If you notice, I have made no broad generalizations nor have I have I made any reference to political affiliation — all of my statements have been factual in context and my sources have been clearly noted. Even “TFN” who is at the extreme opposite pendulum has not been slanderous enough to accuse me of propogandizing half truths.

    As I stated previously, I have downloaded and reviewed the reports from the TEA website and I disagree as a Sociologist and as a parent with the recommendations that were set forth in October. I don’t expect for us to agree…. BUT I do expect for counter views to be presented logically based on academia and the best interest of the children NOT on politics.

    To me, in my humblest of opinions (and again I must emphasis my background is in Sociology NOT history, government or social studies)… it is disconcerting to me that so many prominent figures of history would be excluded when for example Oprah Winfrey is listed as a MANDATORY figure within the text.

    I understand that times change and that we must redirect our focus on more recent events but at what cost AND more importantly what criteria are we using for selecting the role models for our youth. I’m sorry, but I think I have the right as a parent to ask these types of questions.

    With all due respect, as a parent, if I neither provide the correct example nor teach the correct way to ask the hard questions… if I cannot instill in my children a sense of responsibility and honor… then I can hardly expect for my children to become responsible, influential members of our society. I want my children to question with boldness the information that is laid out before them. I want them to be self thinkers. And I want them to be CAREFUL with those that they hold in position of influence.

    To that end, I will CONTINUE to ask the hard questions until I AM FULLY SATISFIED that the decisions that are being made are in the best interest of my children.

    db

  13. Ben
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    “All of you, all of you, should be ashamed to politicize something as important as our children’s future.”

    Well, gee, if you have evidence of “all” of us doing that, please share. So far, you’ve been pretty thoroughly rebutted by TFN.

  14. Dallas Benson
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

    Dear TFN:

    While I have the utmost respect for and fully support those who have committed their lives to improve the integrity and responsiveness of our educational system I can tell you that I have opened on my other monitor the Historical Figures in Social Studies draft that is dated 17 October 2009 and Albert Einstein is clearly listed as DELETED. You know, the gentleman best known for his theories relativity. He is not referenced at any grade level nor is he listed in the context of “follow the words ‘such as’ (example)” nor is he included in an example of what may be caught. Nor is James Watt (his inventions were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution), Isaac Newton (odd that he is considered one of the most influential men in history but not good enough to maintain a place in our Texas text books), Vladimir Lenin (not sure how you can have a discussion on Marxism and Karl Marx without discussing Lenin in some context but what do I know … I only majored in Sociology)… so you’ll understand my confusion over your statement that I have been “bamboozled”. I took it straight off the TEA website. Do you have privy to information that it is not available to the common citizenry ???

    • Posted November 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

      Dallas Benson:
      All of those names are important. So are the names of hundreds of other people. But the curriculum standards are not supposed to list every individual who could be discussed. The names identified in the standards are examples — in some cases required, in other cases not. It would be impossible for the standards to include every possible name of someone important, and teachers and textbooks include additional names in classroom instruction. It’s extremely unlikley, for example, that a textbook would discuss the Soviet Union without addressing the role of Lenin in its founding. And as time goes on, new names become important. (After all, history didn’t end 10 or 50 years ago.) So the curriculum writers are simply trying to find a balance without turning the curriculum standards into an encyclopedic list of names. Now, if the curriculum writers drop an important name because of some ideological objection — such as Ronald Reagan simply because they don’t like conservatives or Einstein because they don’t like Jews — we’ll join you in your concern. But that’s not how they’re making their decisions. Many of the curriculum writers are teachers — they know that some historical figures will be discussed in the classroom whether or not they’re listed in the standards. That’s because they teach about those people in their own classrooms. But their critics unfairly argue that the curriculum writers are trying to censor those names. And that criticism is terribly disingenuous.

  15. Dallas Benson
    Posted November 13, 2009 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    So if I am to understand ya’ll correctly… you are fine with the direction that our Texas social studies text books are going? You have no issue with Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein and others being replaced by Bill Gates, Sam Walton, and Oprah Winfrey? Really? Do ya’ll actually live in Texas? Have children in the Texas public school system? Because I’m telling you, I have issue with this. What is even more remarkable to me is all of the name calling and psycho-babble that is going on from both sides. I don’t care if you are a republican or a democrat, conservative or liberal? Seriously. Get over yourselves. My only priority is ensuring that there is truth and integrity to my daughter’s textbooks… that they are raised with a sense of value, respect and appreciation for our nations history… good and bad… so that they can learn and grow and become productive citizens… and it is my role as a mother and a citizen to make sure that happens. All of you, all of you, should be ashamed to politicize something as important as our children’s future.

    • Posted November 13, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Dallas Benson,
      With all due respect, I think you might have permitted yourself to be bamboozled by some folks who have been looking for reasons to criticize the curriculum writers. For example, Franklin Roosevelt is mentioned three times in the proposed high school U.S. history standards. He also appears in the elementary standards. Far-right critics of the writing teams have made similar complaints about other names they think have been dropped from the standards. In many cases, they were basing their criticisms on early working documents that weren’t proposed drafts. In other cases they ignored the fact that the writing teams are working in separate groups. In trying to find the most appropriate places to identify certain historical figures, a team makes assumptions about what other teams are doing. When they are finally able to coordinate with those other groups, they make adjustments as needed. And finally, writing teams are making adjustments to the standards that are appropriate to keep the textbooks from being massive tomes filled with simply one damn fact after another — the study of history is, or should be, far more than that. Often times proposed names are simply examples that do not exclude teachers (and publishers) from including others. But their critics have cynically ignored all that and are attacking the work of the writing teams anyhow, claiming that they are willy-nilly throwing out the names of important folks. That’s not just nonsense. It’s also insulting and terribly unfair to the folks who are working hard — for free — to craft the new standards that will help Texas students succeed. From our perspective, the writing teams have been doing a remarkably good job of working around the tremendous political pressure to which they are being subjected.

  16. Cytocop
    Posted November 11, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    On the surface, a remake of “Inherit The Wind” looks good. Trouble is, it would only be seen by the already “converted” so to speak. Those who most need to see it would reject it mightily – and loudly. I can envision the crowds of protestors outside cinemas (which, of course, just draws more attention to the movie and make more science-minded people want to see it).

    A remake of “Inherit The Wind” would only give the RR more cause to bash “leftist” Hollywood. Of course, Ron Howard would make a fantastic remake; too bad though that it wouldn’t change anyone’s mind.

    “The truth will set you free” – but only if you’re willing to hear it. Their truth is not science’s truth, and science’s truth isn’t their truth. (And their truth is the true truth, don’t ya know).

  17. David
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    Factually accurate history education is the weapon that will defeat the propaganda aimed toward a Christian Totalitarian state. In addition to preserving the truth about the Founding Fathers we need to also advance the truth about more current history. The gripe against the “activist judiciary” did not begin with the abortion issue. It began with desegregation. The southern evangelical preachers who held that the Bible supported segregation conceded that they had lost that battle, and latched on to the abortion issue.
    It is also a fact of history that the Iran hostage crisis accelerated the rise of Christian neo-fundamentalism, in knee-jerk response to Islamic fundamentalism.
    They’re trying to reach a lot of kids who are unaware of this history, and it must be preserved as well.
    I’m waiting for Sean Penn, Ron Howard, somebody to produce a world class, award winning, updated remake of “Inherit the Wind.
    “The truth will set you free.”

  18. Charles
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    There is just one problem with that Tom. Someone forgot to tell the “through the Cumberland Gap” backwoods settlers, many of which could not read, that church and state had been officially separated in the constitutition, as the background papers of the framers make clear. Apparently, as Alistaire Cook has pointed out, no one had the will to remind the frontier rabble of that fact and many other basic facts of established government and culture in the 13 original states. The pioneers had an empty canvas and the freedom to freelance onto it just about anything that they wished. They burned the Mormons out and killed Joseph Smith. So much for freedom of religion on the frontier.

    The 1962 U.S. Supreme Court ruling simply went back to the descendants of these pioneers and said, “Hey, we let you run around like a banshee on a 300 foot leash for a while out in the wilderness because times were tough and people had to get settled. You have come full circle now, and it is time to be real Americans and honor the separation of religion and state as intended by the framers. People like Cathie Adams are actually angry because they oppose the basic tenets of Americanism that were established by the framers, preferring instead to hold fast to their own separate little world that their ancestors created for them in the wilderness. That’s part of the problem with which we cope..

    The other part of the problem is the rise of Christian Neo-Fundamentalism in the last 40 years among the descendants of these Cumberland Gap pioneers. These descendants are different from their pioneer ancestors because they are no longer willing to accept the fact that Christians differ widely among themselves theologically. For the most part, their ancestors did accept this and made peace with the differences. Today we have religious extremists who are more than willing to stand on a soapbox and state that Christian Neo-Fundamentalism is the sole truth and all of the United Methodists, New Covenant Baptists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and whatever else are wrong-headed apostates. Moreover, because they are so utterly convinced that they are right and you are wrong, they are going to seize the government and use its authority and police powers to establish Christian Neo-Fundamentalism as the official religion of the United States (all the while lying and denying it) and to destroy whatever someone else’s view of the Christian faith might be—again—-because they are right and you are wrong. And they plan to start by getting to your children in the public schools so they can begin indoctrinationg them into their “one true Christian faith” at an early age and under circumstances where disagreeing parents can neither observe nor control the process. Basically, it is just like Nikitia Kruschev said, “We will bury you.” That is their operative philosophy and plan. Our job is to hold fast to and keep focused on Jesus Christ in spte of them. Hold fast to our basic religious freedom as Americans. Hold on to our version of the Christian faith. Support our churches. Refuse the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists access to our children. Refuse to be buried. Any nonChristians who would like to help are welcome allies. Why? Because the extreme and virulent self-righteousness of the Christian Neo-Fundamentalists and their willingness to forcefully impose their warped beliefs on others threatens everyone—even farm animals and electric toasters. They must be stopped. They will be stopped.

  19. Texas Hill Country Tom
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    I have been doing some historical research of original documents, (Mayflowef Compact, Rules of Plymouth Colonies, Protection of Religion Laws, Tithin Dismissals and more.) You see the wackos are telling partial truths. All of New England except Rhode Island was a theocracy. New Amsterdam was Dutch Reform (Anabaptist) theocracy, and of course Pennsylvania was operated on Quaker priciples. Maryland was a Papist theocracy, While the rest of the colonies had The Church of England as the established state religion. We did indeed have theocratic rule based on interpretations of the word of God.
    In the 18th Century two nsignifigant wars took many citizens out of their parochial environs and introduced them too diverse views and ways of interpreting the Bible. It also introduced tens of thousands of farmers and shopkeepers, and laboreres, and seamen to the rich British tradition of one half pint of rum a day for serving the Crown. The revolutionary war coumpounded this benefit because the continental congress saw fit to continue the half pint ration.
    During this time period, the vicars, pastors, elders, and various religio-political leaders saw their power slipping. Rather than relax their stringent policies, they became very abusive. As a result of this flagrat abuse of power, the framers of the Constitution were very careful to disallow any official or state religion. Practice came early on to prevent any further religious abuse on the free citizens of the new United States.
    Therefore, in my opinion, it should be taught that at one time we had no division between church and state and it was horrible. And for that reason the wise men who wrote the Constitution while assuring freedom to worship also definitely separated church and state.

  20. PHarvey
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    Mr. Ames,

    Just because you are paronoid doesn’t mean they are not out to get you.

    Watch out for men in white coats carrying butterfly nets.

  21. Charles
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    Mr. Ames said:

    “The politicizing is coming from these left-leaning, history-rewriting groups that attempt to invent negative, revisionist history, while conducting aggressive smear campaigns and personal attacks on any Texas conservative whose views of a positive America or Texas stands in their way.”

    To me that statement sounds an awful lot like what clinical psychologists refer to by the term “psychological projection.” Basically, it is when a person denies certain feelings, thoughts, or motivations within themselves and simultaneously projects them onto someone outside of themselves. It works something like this: Joe is so angry inside that he could kill Bill (but he does not realize it), so Joe says to Bill, “You are so angry at me that you want to kill me?” You can study up on it here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

    I have noticed over the years that the members of the Religious Right (and even RR organizations) do a lot of psychological projection onto their opponents. My favorite part of the above article is as follows:

    “In psychopathology, projection is an especially commonly used defense mechanism in people with certain personality disorders:

    Paranoid personality disorder
    Narcissistic personality disorder
    Antisocial personality disorder
    Psychopathy”

    Put another way: Fru-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-it Ca-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-kes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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