Facts are facts. Most people claim to believe that facts should frame and rule every argument (“let the chips fall where they may”), but they will often argue about what those “facts” actually are. For them, no potential evidence rises to the level of “fact” unless it comports with their own biases. They challenge the legitimacy of any “fact” that their intellectual game plan can’t absorb or accommodate. They will reject any historical truth, no matter how self-evident and incontrovertible, unless it passes ideological muster. Of course they take it upon themselves to be the arbiter of its purity.
That explains the changes to the social studies curriculum that the Texas Board of Education preliminarily approved and is bent on finalizing in May. The curriculum-makers picked and chose which historical truths the Texas Board of Education felt comfortable with, and in the melded interests of patriotism and revenue generation, included those that they support, and either cut out or retroactively reconstructed the rest of “history” to make it behave. Truths that could not be sanctioned were dispatched into the night and fog of lost collective memory or redeemed by being hammered into compliant shape on propagandists’ anvils.
Teachers will need to adjust to being at least intermittent mouthpieces for revisionism.
Publishers will toe-the-line because the Texas textbook market is huge and extends far beyond the Lone Star State. Teachers will heel because Texas is a “right to work” state, which means they can get fired if a boss deems they have too much peach fuzz on the rims of their ears.
Some representative specimens of rehabilitated history, courtesy of the Texas Board of Education:
- Giving equal billing to the inaugural addresses of Confederacy President Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln, implying moral equivalency.
- Insisting that it was not the design of America’s founders and is not anywhere stated or intended in the Constitution or elsewhere among our great guiding documents that there should be a “separation of church and state.”
- Vindicating Senator Joseph McCarthy’s contention of deep and systemic infiltration of communist agents in the U.S. government.
If nations with federalized educational systems adopted the Texas model for history makeovers and its penchant for sanitizing or deleting portions of their past that they refuse to deal with or learn from because they are too unsettling, then the global community would be in big trouble.
We cannot be taught by a history that never was.
And that’s a fact.