like the Daughters of the American Revolution, or self-appointed guardians of public morals determined to keep unorthodox versions of history away from impressionable young minds. A group of home-made form letters, purporting to represent individual viewpoints but identical in content, described every one of the proposed textbooks as “socialistic,” “unpatriotic,” “ultra-liberal,” and as overemphasizing “minorities, women, and oppression.” The passage condemning America’s Story \(Harcourt “America’s Story is a weak, unpatriotic version of what is supposed to be true American History. There is a very unbalanced presentation of multicultural aspects. The ultra liberal positions on almost every aspect would not produce a student who would be proud to be an American, hold dear ‘The Pledge of Allegiance’ nor the singing of ‘The Star Spangled Banner.’ This book is very depressing. There is an overkill of emphasis on cruelty to slaves and other minorities. This book will definitely produce more racism, class division and hatred among our youth.” \(Suffice it to say that this description of the Harcourt history text is roughly analogous to Orson Welles’ Overall, the correspondence expresses outrage at any gleam of a negative portrayal of any action or episode in American or Texas history. There is a particular thread of denunciation against any criticism, however mild, of slavery, segregation, or racism, or any hint that the United States has been anything but 100 percent righteous in all of its wars \(except, of course, the Civil War which, the letter-writers insist, had little or nothing to do with gious belief; the readers leap angrily at any text which, in their judgment, is insufficiently promotional of Christianity or fundamentalist Christian doctrine. Among the critics, the legendary Norma Gabler made her obligatory appearance in the July hearings. Gabler complained that the words “enslaved Americans” and “Native Americans” are used too often in one of the texts, as she promoted what she calls “balance.” For example, she said, in the American history texts, far too much is made of ancient native civilizations \(the Mayans, the moundmittee was understandably a bit puzzled by Gabler’ s testimony didn’t she think the Renaissance was more properly the subject of European or world history books?but Gabler was .undaunted, insisting, “If we do spend a lot of time on the pre-Columbian Indian then we certainly should have time for the European cultural…there should be a balance.” Most heatedly condemned was Joy Hakim’s ten-volume book for fifth grade American history, A History of US \(Oxford University tinct authorial point of view, and a strong narrative thread. The form attack letters called Hakim’s book “socialistic and extremely unpatriotic.” It appeared that A History of US would be the prime target of the right-wing protests, although the publishers pointed out Hakim’s explicitly patriotic theme: “The United States of America is the most remarkable nation that has ever existed. No other nation, in the history of the world, has ever provided so much freedom, so much justice and so much opportunity to so many people….” But the social science teachers also disliked the book, complaining of its formidable length and arguing that it did not sufficiently comply with the state proclamation. Even more ominously, Republican State Representative Ted Kamel wrote to the board complaining of what he called Hakim’s liberal bias. Rather than try to meet the objections with extensive revi sions, Oxford chose to withdraw A History of US from consideration. Call it a victory for right-wing political correctness. YOUR GOVERNMENT AT WORK With the withdrawal of the Oxford Amer ican history, for the final November meetings of the board the proposed social science textbook series were down to four: Houghton Mifflin, Harcourt Brace, Silver Burdett Ginn, and McMillan/McGraw-Hill; there was also a single book of Texas history proposed by the Jarrett Publishing Company. All of the books had the endorsement of the Texas Coun cil for Social Studies, which had based its review on the board’s own proclamation. At a press conference prior to the book hearings, Jane Humphreys of the TCSS urged the books’ adoptions, as did Cecile Richards of the Texas Freedom Network, Jeff Travillion of the NAACP, and Austin State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos. “This is not about the need to teach our children to be politically correct,” said Barrientos, “it is about the need to teach our children what is factually correct.” Most of the witnesses who appeared before the board were among the letter writers from earlier in the year. Many of their tech nical objections \(primarily typographical errors in the been corrected, but again the protesters turned to what they considered the books’ overemphasis on the evils of slavery, on mi nority rights, on the errors of American foreign pol icy, or on insufficient attention to Christian beliefs or doctrine. This latter objection extended to any mention of prehistoric life, or sci entifically precise geological time. David Muralt, the director of an organization called Citizens for Excellence in Education, objected to any mention of pre-history beyond 10,000 years—-the maximum age of the universe, according to creationists. \(Muralt’s remarks would have been laughable, except that several members of the Representing the DAR, Eleanor Hutcheson reiterated her corn THE PROTESTERS TURNED TO WHAT THEY CONSIDERED THE BOOKS’ OVEREMPHASIS ON THE EVILS OF SLAVERY, ON MINORITY RIGHTS, ON THE ERRORS OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY, OR ON INSUFFICIENT ATTENTION TO CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE. 10 THE TEXAS OBSERVER DECEMBER 6, 1996
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