Don't Mess With Texts, Ass

« February 2010 »

Memo to the Texas Board of Education: NICE TRY, ASSHOLES.

When the post-mortem is written on American civilization, many people will share the blame. But I hope that whoever performs that thankless task remembers to include one extremely pertinent fact: we let Texans write our textbooks.

I mean, it's slightly more complicated than that, but it's essentially true. Like any other product in our glorious capitalist paradise, textbook companies make money by selling a lot of textbooks. Texas has a lot of schoolchildren, on account of it being such a large state and full of people who think Satan invented condoms. Textbook companies that make Texas happy make more money than companies that piss Texas off. And more often than not, making Texas happy means making dipshits like Bill Ames and school board member Don McLeroy happy.

Apparently, having a five-seat majority on the state board wasn't enough for Texas conservatives, because last year, when it came time to appoint the committee that would work up a series or recommendations to the full board, they appointed eight board members, and Bill Ames. Bill Ames is retired. Bill Ames is threatened by liberals. Bill Ames is a moron. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"The SBOE, noting the predictable leftist condemnation of ... McCarthy for his anti-communist activity, requested the inclusion of the Venona papers, which revealed that the U.S. government was in fact infiltrated by communists." - Ames, quoted in the Texas Tribune

John Edwards should have been a Republican. Because Republicans invariably try, and frequently succeed, to rehabilitate the reputations of their disgraced ancestors. They do this not out of reverence, but because they know every failure in their past is a target on their backs in the future. Joe McCarthy's trumped-up Red Scare bullshit has been an albatross around the neck of every subsequent attempt at a right-wing witch hunt, so it's no wonder veiny bangsticks like Ames would want to rewrite history to vindicate him.

Of course, even given the most charitable right-wing reading of the Venona papers, there were, at most 350 Communist spies in the US Government, which, I remind you, employs a hell of a lot of people. And then you have to make the logical leap from that graciously granted "fact" to the conclusion that McCarthy was therefore justified in his tactics and methods. Unless you're already standing on the far side, like Ames, in which case it's hardly a leap at all, is it?

Ames was appointed by McLeroy, who has been fighting tooth and nail to yank the Texas history standards down the wingnut rabbit hole. While the final decisions will be made in March, McLeroy has already won some fascinating victories. For example, Texas students will now learn how important Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Moral Majority, the Heritage Foundation, and the NRA were to the Republican resurgence of the 80s and 90s.

If you're going to teach about Phyllis Schlafly, don't do it in social studies. Do it in English, where it belongs. I mean, her value to society is dubious, but there's no dismissing her literary merit as Bram Stoker's inspiration for Dracula. As for the Moral Majority, how about we compromise, Texas? Teach kids all about the Moral Majority, including every significant piece of media they led a campaign against. Because the odds of even Texas schoolchildren being shocked by that shit 30 years later is pretty damn slim, and it will make the Moral Majority look like a bunch of old prudes with sticks up their asses. Another win for historical accuracy!

The McCarthy vindication got in. Ted Kennedy is out. Sonia Sotomayor is out. On the up-side, so far, hip-hop is still a US cultural movement, and was therefore joined by country music instead of being replaced by it. And Clarence Darrow is still part of history, at least for another six weeks or so. At least he fared better than Brown Bear.

Poor Brown Bear. The star of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See" was clearly the victim of profiling based on the color of his fur. Plus a bit of guilt-by-association, after board member Pat Hardy pointed out that Brown Bear's author also wrote "very strong critiques of capitalism and the American system." And we can't have critiques of capitalism and the American system in a third grade curriculum, can we? No, that shit's gotta be all chopping down cherry trees and making friends with the Indians. Brown Bear's radical sensibilities were thus safely contained.

Or, you know, they would have been, if Pat Hardy had been able to tell the difference between children's author Bill Martin Jr. and "Ethical Marxism" author Bill Martin. Who are, under normal circumstances, two completely different people. Just consider it another victory for capitalism and the American system, like the victory we earn every time that eight-year-old kid gets frisked for being on the terrorist watch list. After all, if there's even one Communist writing children's books, or one person named Michael Hicks tries to hijack a plane, some other asshole Republican will be along in fifty years claiming that Pat Hardy was right all along.