In its battle against historical accuracy, the right-wing Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) decided to revamp the state’s social studies curriculum earlier this year, exchanging emphasis on the historical roles of Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln with the roles of confederate leader Jefferson Davis and paranoid right-wing pundit Phyllis Schlafly. But “just when it appeared the State Board of Education was done with the culture wars,” SBOE is now deciding to dictate what students should learn about Islam.
SBOE’s “seven-member social conservative bloc” will bring up a resolution next week that “would warn publishers not to push a pro-Islamic, anti-Christian viewpoint in world history textbooks.” The resolution demands textbook publishers no longer “taint” Texas textbooks with “gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions” and “false editorial stereotypes” that “still roil” certain textbooks used across the U.S.:
A preliminary draft of the resolution states that “diverse reviewers have repeatedly documented gross pro-Islamic, anti-Christian distortions in social studies texts” across the U.S. and that past social studies textbooks in Texas also have been “tainted” with pro-Islamic, anti-Christian views.
The resolution cites examples in past world history books – no longer used in Texas schools – that devoted far more lines of text to Islamic beliefs and practices than to Christian beliefs and practices.[...]
The resolution states that pro-Islamic, anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation and false editorial stereotypes “still roil” some social studies textbooks nationwide, including “sanitized definitions of ‘jihad’ that exclude religious intolerance or military aggression against non-Muslims … which undergirds worldwide Muslim terrorism.” [...]
The resolution concludes with the warning to publishers that the “State Board of Education will look to reject future prejudicial social studies submissions that continue to offend Texas law with respect to treatment of the world’s major religious groups by significant inequalities of coverage space-wise and by demonizing or lionizing one or more of them over others.”
SBOE member Ken Mercer, who leads the conservative bloc, pushed to consider the resolution because he found that the textbooks’ “Islamic references are very positive to the point that it is whitewashed, while the references to Christianity are very negative.” Other board members charge that the resolution combats a sinister plot by “Middle Easterners” who “are investing in U.S. textbook companies to push their views.”
Some parents worry that the resolution will “prevent their kids from learning the facts.” Board member Pat Hardy, however, suggests that “the issue may be moot because none of the world history books cited by [the resolution] are still in use in Texas, having been replaced in 2003.”
And even if the resolution is adopted, “it would not bind future boards, which will choose the next generation of social studies textbooks within a few years.” SBOE’s conservative bloc also lost two of their own, including the resolution’s author, in March’s Republican primary and thus will be diminished when new members are seated next year. Still, the anti-Islam resolution may sway publishers as “Texas is one of the largest markets for school textbooks in the country,” and so “many publishers write the books using Texas standards, and then sell the same books to public schools in dozens of other states.”