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veliggilAINNIRIZEIPPIENIPAPPMONRaras!PIlliffrifiEfalls14 04ee SIN 16 4 HIT Wirkold F4e15$ painted this picture. of larkgstork Hughes in 192S.. Unit plaint that too many illustrations of minorities appeared in the books \(this repeated objection provoked one of the publishers into an excruciating accounting of every single human figure in its history text, demonstrating, to no one’s apparent satisfaction, that a plainant who was echoing the reams of similar written protests, Hutcheson became an inevitable target for the minority members of the board. She had suggested that the late singer Selena be dropped from a reference to Tex-Mex music, “because she is dead.” “So is George Washington,” acidly replied Mary Helen Berlanga. But Hutcheson’s strongest criticisms were reserved for the inclusion in the texts of black poet Langston Hughes who, she insisted at length, was a communist. \(Her written commentary quoted a Hughes character Board member Alma Allen bristled, saying that she had long taught Hughes’ poetry, and had never learned that he was a communist. “Well, he was,” replied Hutcheson, “and he wanted to overthrow the U.S. government.” “Well,” answered Allen, “perhaps that was the thing to do at that time.” No one suggested that communist or not, a major literary figure like Langston Hughes belonged in an American history bookbut in any event, Hughes stayed, a small but telling testimony to the achieved importance of a generation of minority representation in Texas. His left-wing sympathies will not be mentioned, of courseby the textbook’s censorious logic that every American hero, George Washington or Walt Whitman or Langston Hughes, is assumed to be a good guyand good guys don’t own slaves, or sleep with members of their own sex, or advocate socialism. Good guys emphasize the benefits of the free enterprise system. HISTORY AND YOU There is a certain contradiction in the logic of those who write patriotic textbooks. On the one hand, they describe a country without repression, without real conflict. On the other hand, they obviously believe that we need to lie to students to instill in them love of country. But if the country is so wonderful, why must we lie? James W. Loewen, Lies My Teacher Told Me The final day of the hearings, despite the tense exchange between Berlanga and Watson, was an anti-climax. There was a good deal of miscellaneous grumbling about the Harcourt Brace books, but since in truth they did not seem radically different in their approach than the other texts, it was hard for the right-wing protesters or board members to develop a distinct case against them. To judge from the blanket condemnations of all the texts by the witnesses, Harcourt \(persistently referred to as “Harcroft” in the testimony, as though have been chosen for opposition arbitrarily, as though the conservative members of the board realized they might need a political whipping boy, and Harcourt had drawn the short straw. There was also a flurry of angry confusion when board member Randy Stevenson, who had been absent for the rest of the week, suddenly announced that he had personally found several errors in some of the Harcourt texts, and had spoken to the publishers, who had agreed to make changes accordingly. Will Davis of Austin and several other members denounced this obvious violation of the pre A Langston Hughes in a Harcourt Brace textbook scribed process, but Stevenson insisted he was not “negotiating” for the board and that the publishers willingly agreed to make his changes. These included, for example, removing references to “millions of years” of pre-history and substituting variations of “many years” instead. The length of pre-historical time, Stevenson solemnly announced, is “only a theory…and I’m very surprised that a public institution, the TEA, should present that as a fact.” Moreover, he announced with consternation, the section on World War II doesn’t mention Generals Eisenhower, MacArthur, and Patton. \(Indeed it does not, nor any other generallike virtually every other elementary history text, the book confines itself to presidents and In the wake of protestations by his colleagues, it never became clear whether Stevenson had in fact succeeded in privately ridding the textbooks of any references to the long-established age of the earth. Stevenson muttered darkly about making certain no evolutionary heresies would leak through “next year,” when, because of the November election, religious conservatives will likely have a working majority of votes on the board. Shortly thereafter, in a haze of confused parliamentary procedure, the board clumsily voted to approve all the texts. “The Berlin Wall is down, and the Soviet Union is dissolved,” announced Chairman Jack Christie. In the large hearing room, there was a round of very belated applause. DECEMBER 6, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 11