Our country withered an almost 5o year “Cold War” that cost billions of dollars, ruined millions of lives and almost created a nuclear war. Yet, despite the constant threat and multiple front engagements, the United States prevailed. In a nutshell, because freedom and the desire for the unfettered ability to improve our individual lot were stronger than a despotic system that rendered its citizens morally, financially and developmentally bankrupt. So who cared when the Soviets and their minions called us names such as, “Capitalist pigs” or “imperialist running dogs”? In fact, we wore those monikers with distinction. That is, at least, until now.
Texas’ Board of Education newly adopted social studies standards (See WSJ – Texas Board of Education) emphasize the superiority of America’s free-enterprise system. Ok, fine. But to mandate that the term “capitalism” be replaced with “free-enterprise system” because in the words of board member Cynthia Dunbar: “we’ve all heard the saying ‘capitalist pig’”, requires the kind of logic that imploded the USSR.
Want more? Board member David Bradley noted, “I reject the notion by the left of a constitutional separation of church and state…I have $1,000 for the charity of your choice if you can find it in the Constitution.” Really, I will call and raise that bet if he can find in the Constitution the term “right to own a high-powered rapid fire assault rifle.” This level of displeasure with the Establishment Clause led the Board however, to even excise Thomas Jefferson from the history books.
No, the Board did not get confused with George Jefferson. They really have it in for the author of the Declaration of Independence because he coined the phrase, “Separation of church and State”. Ms. Dunbar replaced our nation’s third President from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions with St. Thomas Aquinas. Whined Dunbar, “the Enlightenment was not the only philosophy on which these revolutions were based”. (See NYT – Texas Board of Education Hearing & MSNBC – Texas Board of Education)
Speaking of the 2nd Amendment by the way, the new standards also assert that “the right to keep and bear arms” is an important element of a democratic society. Ironically however, the revised curriculum standards also describe the U.S. government as a “constitutional republic,” rather than “democratic.”
And, I guess in a nod to Teabaggers, the previous decade old definition of good citizenship as “a belief in justice, truth, equality and responsibility for the common good,” is now based on the standard of “respect for others, personal responsibility, and the importance of voting and of ‘holding public officials to their word.’” Board member Don McLeroy explained, “responsibility for the common good” was no longer kosher as it’s “a liberal notion” that edges toward communist philosophy.
Hmm, funny though that Miriam Webster defines “citizenship”, origin 1611, as:
1: the status of being a citizen;
2: (a) membership in a community (as a college)
(b) the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community
Mr. McLeroy appears more concerned about the quantity rather than the quality of citizenship. We all know that too many really good citizens will bring back both Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin.
Even though the Board ignored the thousands of historians who debunked the revisions as well, revisionist history, I have no doubt Texas children will nonetheless prevail. Why, because Republican Terri Leo, a Board member and part of the powerful Christian conservative voting bloc, called the new standards “world class” and “exceptional.”
Exceptional… clearly. World class? Perhaps in methodology; Stalin would have been jealous. As for me, I am ok being called a capitalist pig. It’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) has legislative authority to adopt the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for each subject of required curriculum. See its TEKS web page at STOF TEKS.