Friday, August 21, 2009

Spinning history

The Express-News has a story today about the State Board of Education coming out with a first draft for standards for history books.
The big news is that the conservative board members are pushing to include key moments in the history of wingnuttopia - specifically the founding of the Moral Majority by Jerry Falwell; Phyllis Schafley’s Eagle Forum and successful campaign to villify and defeat the Equal Rights Amendment and the rise of Newt Gingrich and his Contract On America that led to the 1994 takeover of the government by Republicans.
I don’t have a particular problem with any of this except that the story implies that they also want to eliminate references to “liberal” groups and figures in history. The story does not explain this very well so I’m not sure what or if anything has been proposed yet.
I’ve seen student textbooks that talked about the ERA campaign and would think that Schafly’s involvement in its defeat should be included. And the whole Moral Majority/Christian Coalition movement is definitely worthy of putting into context in the history books. But so is the downfall of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker and the whole PTL scandal.
The 1994 election and the “Republican Revolution” certainly warrants coverage in the history books, but so does the abject failure of the Republican ideology as the bone-headed supply side economics program led to massive increases in the federal debt and the replacement of “Tax and Spend” with “Borrow and Spend”.
As long as we are being more inclusive and not less so, I can’t complain too much. But the real question will be how much emphasis to place on each section and the positive or negative spin that these rightwing idealogues on the board will try to impose on the textbook manufacturers.

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