Sunday, March 14, 2010

E pluribus queror.

So the Texas Board of Education voted 10-5 to teach history instead of a textbook full of free-floating multi-culti anti-American self-loathing guilt.

Naturally, this displeased a lot of people, especially those in the booming free-floating multi-culti anti-American self-loathing guilt industry. They were quick to fling accusations of the "C-word"* and issue condemnations of the new syllabus:
Board member Rick Agosto, a Democrat, said the contributions of Hispanics and other minorities were shortchanged, and he graded the new standards "one jalapeƱo out of five."
Incidentally, he also graded them one-and-a-half bowls of collard greens out of five, two tubes of lipstick out of five, three kielbasas out of five, three-and-a-half matzoh balls out of five, and four pints of Guinness out of five.

What an amazing tool.

* "Conservatism". Duh!


Andrew C said...

Some of their changes may be good - others are moronic.

Personally, I like the concept of separation of church and state - so I'm not so happy about the new standards.

Will Brown said...

Still waiting on Gov. Perry's statement regarding the number of Tums in response.

w/v: nonsness Board member Agosto's recommended spelling, no doubt.

Tam said...

Andrew C,

So, he's upset that the Black Panthers are mentioned and that there actually was a ton of commie spying going on during the McCarthy era?

I think he needs to stick to astronomy.

Joanna said...

Hey now, don't be hatin' on the collard greens. Them's good eatin'.

Doesn't change that Agosto's an idiot.

N said...

They took Thomas Jefferson out of the discussion of the Enlightenment, and replaced him with Thomas Acquinas.

I've often thought that "history" involves magically transposing a 13th century theologian into an 18th century intellectual movement. Also, everybody knows Jefferson and his philosophy is the epitome of "free-floating multi-culti anti-American self-loathing guilt."

Ed Foster said...

I certainly don't want him cooking for me.

Tam said...

"They took Thomas Jefferson out of the discussion of the Enlightenment, and replaced him with Thomas Acquinas."

Can you smell the bias in that blog entry?

They are not writing Jefferson out of the history book; they are writing him out of a discussion of the philosophical underpinnings of 18th C. political revolutionary thought. To wit, Jefferson's thought; in other words, Jefferson was not an influence on Jefferson. To do otherwise would be self-referentialism.

You'll note that neither Hobbes nor Locke are exactly 18th C. figures, either...

But apparently it's easier for the unbiased writers at Discover to believe that conservative fundies are acting out some byzantine vendetta against Jefferson because he was an armchair paleontologist. Normally such specious reasoning is reserved for Troofer theories.

N said...

I actually hadn't read the Discover article, I've been following this elsewhere.

As for this particular amendment, it changed the curriculum from "explain the impact of Enlightenment ideas from John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, and Thomas Jefferson on political revolutions from 1750 to the present" to "explain the impact of the writings of John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu, Jean Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and Sir William Blackstone."

So we've got a list that is composed mainly of 18th century thinkers, with a leavening of 17th century. Then the BoE removes the one American and replaces him with a 13th and 16th century theologian. Oh, and the American thinker held religious views that tend to get downplayed with fundies talk about the founding of America.

It is somewhat difficult to believe that this was a complete coincidence. Especially in light of the same BoE's decision to omit discussion of the Establishment Clause.

Anonymous said...

Saw Don McLearoy on TV just the other day. He's just as much a buffoon as described. Earth at 10k years old, etc.

Tam said...

Okay, so keep him away from the biology and geology textbooks.

Will Brown said...


Reasonable people can agree to disagree as to the relative importance of historical events as part of a modern education.

That said, I suspect you are more upset that your personal kinks and knee-jerks didn't get closer consideration by a majority of the BoE than anything else. If you feel it of such importance, I know your local school(s) would gratefully accept donations of publications pertinent to instruction in the Establishment Clause (or any other aspect of American/Texan governance for all of that). Teachers around Smith County at least are always open to permitting on-subject extra-credit work, as long as it doesn't come out of their book budget.

It seems more likely to me that you're more interested in protesting the BoE's decision as to where to draw the textbook content line this time around rather than actually doing anything though. That being the case, I suggest you withhold your school tax payment in protest instead (assuming you actually own any property and have any skin in the game). That'll get your "issues" all the attention you can handle, and right quick, I promise.

Meanwhile, the rest of us will continue to enjoy the antics on public display.

LabRat said...

Seeing as how the School Board is not divided by subject, McLeroy has not been kept away from the biology textbooks and has been waging war for the creationist cause in that position. (Fortunately, with limited success.) He's gone on the record as stating he evaluates all history texts first on the basis of how they treat Christianity.

And I'm with N: eliminating Jefferson, the only American from the only revolution that resulted in a long-lasting Enlightenment-based government, from a curriculum examining the effect of Enlightenment philosophy on revolutions of the time is insane no matter what political motive was behind it.

Just because a blogger or writer or other breed of complainer is biased does not also mean that they're wrong.

Tam said...


Perhaps I am misreading.

From the vibe I picked up though, the discussion was more about who influenced the revolutionaries (among whose number Jefferson can surely be counted) than the revolutionaries themselves.

atlharp said...

I give this discussion 2 bedpans out of 5. :-p

LabRat said...

The American revolutionaries did not influence the French revolutionaries?

Tam said...


Jefferson, while anti-monarchist, was pretty buddy-buddy with the upper class in France. I know he spoke in favor of their revolution when it went down, but I don't know as he had much influence on the thinking behind their revolutionaries.

Also, the language and philosophy of the French Revolution was a lot more class-based and collectivist than ours.

Hunsdon said...

Which serves as a damn fine reminder. If you want to believe in American exceptionalism, just look at our revolution. Either it was sui generis, or NO ONE has ever got it right except us. The line I've always hears was 1/3 Tories, 1/3 secessionists (can we say that?) and 1/3 neutral. That means we coulda lined the streets with 1/3 of the population all strung up and dancing on air, or nailed to crosses. (We could have necklaced them, but the British Empire was imposing a tire blockade back then.)

Was our revolution the only one that didn't devour its own young?

TJP said...

What, no one-perogies-out-of-five? My people always get screwed over. [does hand gesture in general direction of Texas]

With all this discussion, keep in mind we're talking about human pupae. The Board will be lucky if the baby goats remember any historical facts a week after graduation. There's only so much you can foist on them, and it's best to stick to the bare essentials.

That's why multi-culturalism, contemporary politics and contemporary religious issues have no place in a dumbed-down history class. The more time teachers waste on that, the more people we have later, asking the government to build a wall by swapping bricks.

TJP said...

Also: if you have children, ask to borrow their history books--but keep your red correcting pen handy. It's like a horrifying alternate-history sci-fi novel.

What Texas should do is hire Kevin Baker to do fact checking. Or hire him to rewrite the books. (Either way they'd have to throw out the current books.)

staghounds said...

My favourite part of the article:

"The system will provide rating for such programs based on how well their graduates FAIR in certification tests, appraisals and board compliance."

Tam said...

Dammit, I can't believe I missed that!

I only got as far as "jalapenos" before I lit up my keyboard.

monkeyfan said...

It is my humble and often flawed understanding that Thomas Paine was considered to be the American revolutionary of greater import to the Jacobin cause. His literary slap at Burke's criticism of the direction of the French citizen-eating machine was well-reasoned and influential - at least until the Rolling Heads Stimulus Package had stimulated the french basket weaving and blood mop industries.

I suspect our historical revision "problem" can largely be solved by using primary sources and pre-progressive scholarship as textbooks instead of the hippie crap magnets used today. Most of them are available as free E-books; freeing up state taxpayer funds to continue financing teachers' spring, summer, fall, and winter 'sabbaticals'.

Anyway, We the People -who pay the bills- might start the ball rolling by encouraging our wayward public servants to relegate the pages of any history text that quotes Howie Zinn, or other purveyors of the Hegelian dialectic, as authoritative sources to arse-wipe duty in schoolhouse bathrooms...Where they belong.

Long live the One True Revolution!

Sigivald said...

Frankly, I think Aquinas and even that prick Calvin are more worth studying for "world history" than "enlightenment thought and its impact on revolutions".

Religion has had huge and lasting influence worldwide; between Aquinas and Calvin you cover most of the important theological ground in Christianity, which matters for European history.

(And I say that as an atheist who likes Jefferson!)

Also, nobody should be pushing Rousseau on school kids without the focus being "and he was completely wrong".

(And it saddens me to see BadAstronomy falling prey to partisan stupidity. "As Colbert once said, reality has a well-known liberal bias"?

Uh, yeah, not so much. Reality doesn't favor an ideological camp along those lines. [Speaking of which, Rousseau! Reality does not favor him.])