Teaching Islam to Our Children in the Los Angeles Suburbs

November 14, 2014

If there is one word certain to make my friends and colleagues roll their eyes it is the word Dhimmitude.  The expression, which is defined by the Swiss based writer Bat Ye’or, (perhaps the world expert on the subject) as “behavior dictated by fear  pacifism  servility and  peaceful surrender to the Islamic conquerors who demand  either conversion, payment of a excessive poll tax or death for their vanquished captives.”  Around the world today the term is used to denote instances where Western civilians blithely acquiesce to  demands from their Muslim minorities out of a desire to appease their grievances.   The reason my friends seem to greet the word with such indifference is that there are few, (to their minds at least), concrete examples of such acquiescence in their own cities.

Of course they are wrong.   While the United States is several steps behind Europe in this regard, there are thousands of examples throughout our continent of judges, city officials, police commissioners and financial institutions undertaking the same kind of obsequious submission to Muslim demands as we see so blatantly operative in Europe.

And school boards too.

One egregious example came to my attention this week. In an article published at Breitbart Calfornia  following a news report by Los Angeles news station  KTLA,  the father of a boy enrolled in Manhattan Beach Middle School pulled his son out of class because the school was teaching him the tenets of Islam.

In an article posted anonymously by the father on Freedom Outpost, he explained that:

It was the end of said day, that part when we check our emails or read the news, the kids are finishing up their homework, and everyone’s stomach is making strange noises. I was at my computer when my son came in the room, “Dad, can you help me with my homework?”

“Sure, buddy. Whatcha got?”

He handed me five pieces of social science paper, and when I’d read through them all, my face was flushed and my heart was beating fast.

“Do not write another word on this paper!” I said. “This teacher is teaching you the faith of Islam, and she isn’t supposed to do that.”

The teacher had indeed given out an assignment under the guise that she was teaching Middle Eastern history, but the last time I checked, asking children to write down the Five Pillars of Islam and the Shahada had nothing to do with history.

One of the questions on the assignment asked, “What are some of the teachings of the Quran?”

Underneath the question were several ovular bubbles where students were supposed to write their answers. My son had already written, “Allah is the one true God” in one bubble and “People must submit to Allah” in another. I turned a few pages over, and there was a page with several columns where the children were being asked to write down the Five Pillars of Islam. Again, what does this have to do with history?

In a later report the father said:

“The audacity of this school, to think that they can sit these children down and teach ’em whatever religion they please; it’s preposterous. This is illegal, basically. You can’t teach religion in schools any more, but apparently, in this particular school, at least, that’s not the case.”

Where did this curriculum come from?  Did the teacher just make it up, inserting her own materials instead of using the school’s?  And did the teacher intend to cover the world’s other major religions in as complete detail ( the children spent THREE WHOLE WEEKS on Islam!).

Apparently not.

Inquiries to the principal by the father were answered with the comment that:

After reviewing the curriculum, I was wrong about what comes next in 7th grade. Almost all of the Judaism and Christianity lessons are in the 6th-grade curriculum. You can take a look at the 7th-grade social studies book you have at home and see what is coming up in the future. But it looks to me there is nothing very controversial in the remaining chapters. If there is something you see that you need more information on, let me know and I will see if Ms. Smith has any information on the subject. We will be updating the absences when your son returns to class. As far as I know, the test is still scheduled for Thursday. Once the test is over, we do need to get your son back into class.”

In other words, his concerns were not addressed at all and the school had no intention of changing or challenging its State mandated teaching schedule for the 7th graders.

Many questions arise from this story, the principal ones being who wrote the curriculum that this school so faithfully follows and why are the parents of the other students in the class not in a similar uproar?

After all, if the same time and effort had been lavished on Judaism or Christianity there would have almost certainly been picketing outside the school and many more children not showing up for  class.

The Manhattan Beach Public School Board seems just as blithely disinterested in the controversy.  When several of us attended their meeting on Wednesday, November 5th, the issue was more or less tabled for further review and little action seemed to be forthcoming.

Where , one might ask, is the ACLU and the other organizations in this country so committed to the proposition that religion cannot be allowed in the classrooms of our public schools?

I will tell you where they are.  They  have conveniently found the First Amendment right to free speech to be of singular convenience in these instances and they cower behind it, afraid to address Muslim issues for fear of being branded racists.

They, sad to say, much like the teacher and principal at the  Manhattan Beach Middle School – and perhaps even the other parents – have become dhimmis, willful instruments in the slow accretion of Islamicization in our society.

We cannot afford to avoid a confrontation with those who would seek to undermine our society and civilization.  But incidents such as occurred at this school, point to an apathy and lack of awareness that will be as devastating to our future as any direct assault by a Muslim army.

Islamic Education for Public School Students

October 4, 2010

Watch this extremely disturbing video about what happened during a public school outing to a local mosque in Massachusetts:

Do the U.C. Regents Really Know What is Going On?

July 14, 2010

Several weeks ago, my friends Tammi Rossman- Benjamin, a lecturer in Hebrew at U.C. Santa Cruz and Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus at UCLA,  contacted me about a letter which they wished to address to Mark Yudof, President of U.C. California – the largest college system in the United States.    They expressed their outrage with the failure of Yudof and the U. C. Regents to adequately address the rising tide of anti-Semitism on  California college campuses and the apparent ease with which Muslim groups and other left wing organizations are able to demonize Jews and Israel in the most vile and inciting language.

In the letter, to which they asked me to append  my name and the endorsement of the American Freedom Alliance, they outlined some of the outrageous attacks to which Jewish students have been subjected over the past several years.  To wit:

” Over the last several years, Jewish students have been subjected to –  swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti; acts of physical and verbal aggression; speakers, films and exhibits that use anti-Semitic imagery and discourse; speakers that praise and encourage support for terrorist organizations that openly advocate murder against Israel and the Jewish people; the organized disruption of events sponsored by Jewish student groups; and most recently, the promotion of student senate resolutions for divestment that seek to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State.”

The crowning incident of these macabre developments occurred when grotesque gestures and obscene epithets were hurled at Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, when he attempted to deliver an address to students at U.C. Irvine on February 8.  Eleven students , most of them belonging to the college’s Muslim Student Union, were arrested for civil disturbance.

The incident not only shone a kleig light on the problematic campus but also pointed to intense problems of oversight within the U.C. system itself.   The failure of the Board of Regents to adequately discipline  a campus which has witnessed repeated instances of  anti- semitic outbursts from Muslim students and has paid little attention to the growing climate of intolerance, was a making a farce of  the Regents’ professed multicultural ethos.

President Yudof’s answer was to institute a series of  campus climate committees –  groups of academics, campus administrators and lay leaders who might represent a broad multicultural approach to resolving campus problems.

Tammi and Leila’s letter attacked the Yudof plan as being out of touch with reality since it does not expressly deal with the most egregious form of bigotry and hatred –  the attack on Jews and supporters of Israel.  In other words, their contention was that the campus climate committees have not been convened to specifically address anti-Semitism – which accounts for 80% of the threatened violence and racial slurs on campus, but have been given wide purview for an investigation embracing all forms of racism.   The letter composed by Rossman- Benjamin, Beckwith and U.C. Irvine lecturer Roberta Seid, gave explicit recommendations for the course the U.C. President ( himself an observant Jew) , should undertake.

They are too numerous to enumerate here but fall under the rubric of one basic directive : Call this intolerance and bigotry for what it is –  a resurgence of the same anti-Semitism which has  its roots planted deeply in Western history.

Yudof, disappointingly, has not risen to this challenge.  In a letter, dated July 2 and addressed to the fourteen named leaders of organizations who signed the original June 28 letter( myself included)  he ducks the demand that the Board of Regents  expressly name anti-Semtism as the number one cause of disturbances  on our campuses.   Instead he urges that the multicultural campus climate change committees be given the opportunity to do their work and provide their recommendations for dealing with outbreaks of racism.

Fair enough.   I can take Yudof at his word and wait for his committees to do their work.   But we are  all, nevertheless, absolutely correct to be skeptical.   For multicultural panels throughout the West , such as the ones he has convened, have proved themselves regularly inept in addressing outbreaks of anti-Semitism, particularly from within the Muslim community.  Read almost any British newspaper these days ( or the reports that we present weekly from that country in The Western Word) and you will find evidence of multicultural city councils, police boards and government agencies  surrendering to the cultural sensitivities of Muslim communities, abjectly bowing to their supposed ‘multicultural’ and rights of free speech to express anger about  Israeli policies and against any Jew who supports them.

I rather like Sharon Rappeport’s response to Yudof’s letter.    She states that sensible monarchs learned centuries ago that  there is never a  substitute for first hand experience and every now and then it is good for the King to wander amongst his subjects to see for himself what is really going on in the streets of his towns and villages.

”  May I suggest then that you dress as do many of your ( observant Jewish)  students:  with a beard, kippa, and tzitzit–the strings hanging on the outside. Then attend a free speech “talk” by Abdul Malek at U.C. Irvine or Santa Cruz and discover what it feels like to be pointed at and screamed at by him and intimidated by his menacing bodyguards. Hang out at “the wall” during “Israel Apartheid Week”–choose any of the U.C. campuses–and try entering a discussion with the organizers of that hate fest, surrounded by banners equating Jews with Nazis. They will tell you straight out that they believe you should be killed.”

It seems inevitable that while the climate change committees slowly deliberate over the nature of  violent rhetoric that has engulfed California campuses in recent years,  actual violence and murder may not be too far away.

At that point, with blood  spilled on our campuses, it may be too late for Mark Yudof and his Board of Regents to officially recognize that, yes, indeed, we have an antisemitic problem that cannot be met by subscription to the usual multicultural pieties or soft touch policies.  They can only be stamped out by resort to the most draconian methods  – either the dissolution of campus organizations, expulsion of the offending students or direct charges of criminal behavior.

Diversity’s Failing Grades

March 29, 2010

When I first came to the United States 26 years ago to undertake some post-graduate work, I lived with a group of Jewish students in a large dormitory near UCLA.    After about a year, I became acquainted with a startling fact about my fellow lodgers – their level of academic achievement was well below what I had experienced among my fellow students in Australia.  Many could not spell simple words; their grammar was atrocious; their conversation was filled with non- sequiturs and was riven with an over-dependence on the word “like.”

I was part of the U.C. system then and have been associated with UCLA in one way or another, ever since.

During that time, I have seen not only seen academic standards fall, but the rise of a campus culture which places cultural sensitivity training above all other priorities, including academic distinction.

I wasn’t aware of  it when I arrived in 1984, but only six years had then passed since the landmark law suit Regents of the University of California vs Bakke,  which had gone all the way to the U.S.  Supreme Court. The case involved one Allan Bakke, who had applied to U.C. Davis Medical School but was denied, despite an impressive academic record.

The U.C. Davis Medical School claimed that its affirmative action/ diversity policies prevented it from increasing the number of white males who could be admitted.   However after he was denied a second time, Bakke filed suit for mandatory injunctive relief, demanding that the school allow his admission and to render its restrictive policies unconstitutional.  The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court with Bakke eventually gaining the right to attend U.C. Davis but with no conclusive majority opinion on the constitutionality of its affirmative action policies.

Yet Justice Lewis F. Powell’s lone opinion in the case was consequential.   It concluded that though race could not be the basis for excluding a candidate, race could certainly be one of many factor in admission’s considerations.   That opinion was seized upon by affirmative action enthusiasts and became part of the U.C. admissions policies thereafter.

Ten years ago, after having read The Tyranny of Diversity, a book on the state of universities in an age of affirmative action, I launched my own inquiry into how universities, committed to integration of minorities through affirmative action policies and a commitment to diversity, were coping with the changes to their student populations.

The results of that inquiry were sobering:  a rapid fall in academic standards; an increase in reports of date rape and sexual assault and the decrease of civil discourse on campus.

The system had become a zero-sum game that opened the door for jobs, promotions, or education to minorities while shutting the door on whites. Not only that, but in a country that prized the values of self-reliance and meritocratic achievement,  it had imported into our educational system ideals which were foreign  to it, providing opportunity that had not been earned and eroding rather than encouraging respect, tolerance and openness.

Recognizing that affirmative action policies had, appallingly, become a means of engineering reverse discrimination, California voters in 1996 therefore soundly approved Proposition 209, which  amended the California State Constitution to prohibit public institutions from considering race, sex or ethnicity for the purposes of admissions or public employment.

But that was not the end of affirmative action.  Not by a long shot.  Chameleon-like, it merely morphed into “diversity” as a new expression of its determination to integrate multiple cultures, lifestyles, sexual preferences and points of view into the wider campus community.

I was reminded of all this last Thursday when the U.C. Regents decided, in a public meeting, to apologize to the black community of U.C. San Diego for an off campus party that had mocked Black History Month. The Regents promised  to help create campus environments in which minority students would feel more comfortable.

In fact, U.C . President, Mark Yudof, declared that he would seek changes in admissions policies as well as the creation of scholarships for underrepresented minorities “in order to improve diversity.”

Hmmm…. so, here we are  again – 50 years after John F. Kennedy introduced the term ‘affirmative action’ into our vocabulary, 32 years after Powell’ s opinion in Bakke and 14 years after Proposition 209  –  and we find that not only is there an outright denial of diversity’s failure, but a general agreement among our academic leaders that our universities are not quite diverse enough.

For Yudof was not only referring to the offense to black students.  His remarks were made against a backdrop of racial slurs and near rioting which interrupted a speech by Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, at a speech at U.C. Irvine on February 12th.   The outrageous behavior of Muslim students there, in which 11 were arrested for disorderly conduct, drew public attention to the fact that Muslim students on campuses throughout the West often do not feel bound by the same rules as non-Muslims, particularly when it comes to the expression of their views on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Yudof, of course, would not admit it, but the riots at places like U.C. Irvine and  U.C Berkeley, are as much a result of the diversity policies in the U.C.  system as they are the capstone of  a half century of attempted integration policies, which focus on freedom of expression and the promotion of cultural identity at the expense of  educational advancement.

For administrations are increasingly loathe to clamp down on hate speech on campus for fear of tripping the wires of cultural sensitivity.  So professors and students alike can compare Israelis to Nazis, the War in Gaza to the Holocaust or call for the murder of an ambassador – and university administrations can barely bring themselves to blink an eyelid.

Meanwhile, affirmative action lives on in its diversity disguise, as pernicious an ideology as ever.  In the same forum where Yudof debased himself by begging forgiveness from the black community for not making the U.C. system diverse enough, U.C. Regent Eddie Island added:

“It is our own standards and slavish adherence to grade point averages and SAT scores that have put us in this dilemma.  We value those things higher than we value other human qualities that are just as important and that can make a contribution within the UC environment.”

How ironic, for the truth, of course, is quite the opposite.  It is affirmative action and diversity which have put us in this dilemma  – and the problems that they encourage, are only growing.

“We stand in solidarity with the Irvine 11,” declared Victor Sanchez, president of the University of California Student Association in his opening remarks to the regents during the meeting.  This was a  sly reference to the Chicago 7 – essentially making the case that screaming racial epithets and encouraging incitement to murder constitute protected speech, as long as it is are attached to  a cause to which the U.C. students are popularly aligned.

Did any of the U.C. Regents rebut this hateful notion?  None.  For to do so would to be contravene diversity’s golden rule:  all opinions and viewpoints  are equally valid, no matter how viciously expressed.

And how is the new found meritocratic emphasis of our universities faring in all of  this?  Well just ask Jocelyn Devault of Newbury Park, whose 18-year-old senior, despite possessing a 4.1 GPA, all Advance Placement, International Baccalaureate course work and high SAT scores, could not manage to get into even one of the U.C.s  she applied to for the Fall of 2010.

Why would any thoughtful parent wish to send their child to a tertiary institution where hate speech is given such protective cover, where academic achievement is devalued and where the leaders are weak, supine sychophants who bend in the direction of  whatever multicultural wind  is blowing their way?

Perhaps we should all be asking these hard questions as the U.C. Regents get to work on strengthening their diversity agenda.

Anne Coulter’s Uncivilized Discussion

March 25, 2010

By Anne Coulter’s own admission, its been a pretty rough week.   Over the past few days she has been accused of thought crimes, threatened with criminal prosecution for speeches she hasn’t yet given and denounced on the floor of a Legislature.   Posters advertising her speech have been officially banned, while campus billboards denouncing  her are pervasive.

Where is she?   In the capital of a liberal democracy having been invited to deliver a speech that no one will now hear.

On March 22, Coulter was scheduled to speak on behalf of the International Free Press Association at the University of Ottawa in Ontario, the second appearance in a national tour.  But with 2,000 protesters gathered outside the University’s Marion Hall bearing stones and other projectiles, and with the very real risk of violence, the appearance had to be cancelled.

Unknown to most, however, it was not Coulter herself who decided to cancel the speech, but the Ottawa police, who could not or would not guarantee her safety.

Before she arrived, François Houle, the University’s Academic Vice-President Academic and Provost wrote her a cautionary letter suggesting that she ought to weigh her words with “respect and civility in mind”

He wrote:

” There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this University, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and I urge you to respect that Canadian tradition while on our campus. Hopefully, you will understand and agree that what may, at first glance, seem like unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression do, in fact, lead not only to a more civilized discussion.”

This is part of the same Canadian campus scene, of course, where Catholics have been accused of being killers and pedophiles, evangelicals of being hate-mongers and homophobes, Zionists of being genocidal butchers and conservatives of being deranged and imbecilic.

How is that for “ restraint, civility and respect?”

The University of Ottawa now joins that pantheon of great Canadian universities, such as York University (Daniel Pipes) and Concordia (Benjamin Netanyahu) where violence has been threatened and used to quash an alternative point of view.

Coulter might pay Pipes’ experience particular note. Recalling the January, 2003 incident where his talk “Barriers to Peace in the Middle East” was cancelled and then reinstated at the last minute, the Middle East expert stated:

” But surely the most memorable aspect of this talk was the briefing by James Hogan, a detective in the Hate Crime Unit of the Toronto Police Service, to make sure I was aware that Canada’s Criminal Code makes a variety of public statements actionable, including advocating genocide (up to five years in prison) and promoting hatred of a specific group (up to two years).”

Things have not changed all that much at York in the intervening eight years. Last month, a series was to be presented by the actively pro- Israel group Christians United For Israel ( CUFI).   However, as David Frum reports,  campus police made the following demands of the group:

” It insisted on heavy security, including both campus and Toronto police — all of those costs to be paid by the program organizers. The organizers would also have to provide an advance list of all program attendees and advance summaries of all the speeches. No advertising for the program would be permitted — not on the York campus, not on any of the other campuses participating by remote video.”

Interestingly, an anti- Israel apartheid week in the same month had no such barriers placed upon it.  It did not have to pay for its own security. It was free to advertise and its speakers were not pre-screened.

In September, 2002 , a speech by then Israeli Finance Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu at Concordia University in Montreal was similarly cancelled when students broke through barriers and attempted to storm the auditorium.   Riot police had to escort attendees from the building.  One of the student recalled:

” The scene as we exited was disgusting. Benches were overturned, papers and garbage streaked across the hallways, and broken windows. We were shoved outside directly into a huge pro-Palestinian riot, where some of our people were apparently attacked… On their side, they threw bottles at people’s heads, screamed hatred, and tried to break the barriers down to hurt us. They started tossing pennies and coins at us — one of the oldest ways to taunt Jews by saying we’re all “money-grubbing.” While we sang Hatikvah arm in arm, they spat at us.”

The sheer terror of the scene is captured evocatively in the documentary Confrontation@Concordia.

I’ m no great fan of Ann Coulter’s.  I find much of her work tasteless.  But tastelessness does not amount to hate speech, no matter what the University of Ottawa’s administration nor York University’s campus police believe.  The apparent willingness to allow those who employ violence and intimidation to speak without restraint, while those who refuse to do so have their speech reviewed, monitored, crimped and even cancelled, is  craven surrender to anti-democratic notions and a potential death blow to free speech.

Do our western university administrations understand this?  Have they no courage at all to employ their authority on campus to decisively impose zero tolerance proscriptions on hate mongering against conservatives and its attendant violence?

I am not sure.  Certainly Canada is in the throes of a serious reversal of basic democratic rights, convincing itself  that it is all in the interests of keeping the peace.  That attitude will haunt the nation as a generation comes to realize that it can achieve with violence far more than what it can gain through dialogue and openness to alternative points of view.

One has to wonder whether Provost Houle and others of his ilk appreciate that this is exactly the kind of  “civilized discussion” our future universities can anticipate and could be their most fateful legacy.

History Dead or Alive!

March 21, 2010

Anyone with the desire to obtain a sense of what our children are learning about Islam in school, would be well served by paying attention to some of our children’s history text books.  

The California standard 7th Grade text for history is titled , “History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.” Not only is it rife with mistruths about medieval history, but it blatantly glorifies and promotes Islam at the expense of  Christianity.

History Alive! is a standard text and used in most of our country’s public schools. You would think that an American text book devoted to the medieval world would provide a balanced picture of pre-Enlightenment Europe and its accomplishments. 

But you would be wrong.  

This text barely scrapes together an outline of the Western civilization’s growth and development, but spends an inordinate amount of space displaying the growth (and worth) of Islam.   In fact an entire unit, 55 pages, featuring such chapter titles as The Geography of the Arabian Peninsula, The Prophet Muhammad and Islam’s Contribution to World Civilization, glorifies Islam’s contributions to our civilization while failing entirely to  recount  the bloodshed that accompanied its conquest of most of the Mediterranean world. 

The obvious impression left is that Islam’s spread was peaceful and benign, being implemented through trade and cultural exchange. Unanswered is how Islam converted populaces so implicitly unhappy with their heritage, that they forsook Christianity to take up a new religion. 

Strangely enough Christianity, in the same time period, has only 15 pages devoted to it – mainly centering on the Crusades, which are described as violent campaigns and massacres launched as attempts to regain captured lands.    Judaism is barely mentioned except in terms of the Spanish Inquisition.  There is no reference at all to the philosophical contributions of St. Thomas Aquinas, Maimonides, Solomon Ibn Ezra and William of Ockam.    Nor is there much discussion of English Common Law, crucial to the growth of the continental legal system and the future American system of justice.

Additionally, Christian beliefs are presented as legends while the claims of Islam are presented as facts. For instance, “Moses claimed to receive the Ten Commandments from God” but Mohammad simply “received the Koran from God”. 

On the subject of Jihad: “Muslims should fulfill jihad with the heart, tongue, and hand. Muslims use the heart in their struggle to resist evil. The tongue may convince others to take up worthy causes, such as funding medical research. Hands may perform good works and correct wrongs.” 

No mention of the carnage and havoc wrought by Jihad’s call to arms throughout the medieval period. 

There was also substantial puffery and misinformation. The text tells us that Muhammad “taught equality and told his followers to share their wealth and to care for the less fortunate in society,”  –  a fact even most Islamic scholars might dispute. 

Where does all this come from? 

Well in 1998, the California State Board of Education adopted “History, Social Science Content Standards for CA Public Schools” which explicitly defines the content that students need to learn at each grade level.  For 7th Grade history,  students are required, among a number of other things, to analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the civilizations of Islam in the Middle Ages. Within the prescribed activities, they must explain the significance of the Qur’an and the Sunnah as the primary sources of Islamic beliefs, practice, and law, and their influence in Muslims’ daily life, discussing the expansion of Muslim rule through military conquests and treaties while emphasizing the spread and acceptance of Islam and the Arabic language. 

In other words, Californian 7th grade students must receive instruction and engage in activities to learn about Islamic history, culture and religious practices, whether they want to or not.  The guidelines indicate that the school’s approach to religion should be academic, not devotional and that the school may sponsor study about religion, but may not sponsor the practice of religion. 

It is important to note that the textbook’s publisher, Teacher’s Curriculum Institute (TCI), enjoys a close relationship with the Islamic Networks Group (ING), a Muslim propaganda agency based in San Jose, California. The ING website was formerly connected to several Islamist websites, including a propaganda outlet in Madinah, Saudi Arabia.   It sported a website devoted to corrupting American history–and endorsing TCI textbooks. ING promotes no other schoolbook publisher.

The book credits Ayad Al-Qazzaz as its chief author-advisor on Islam. Al Qazzaz is professor of sociology at California State University, Sacramento who is a Muslim apologist and  a frequent speaker in Northern California school districts promoting Islam and Arab causes. He also co-authored The Arab World Notebook, issued by the Arab World and Islamic Resources (AWAIR) which is a proselytizing non-profit organization that conducts teacher workshops and sells supplementary materials to schools.

 Maybe it all began innocently enough with a State Board attempting to create a balanced multicultural approach to education.  

But this text is only multicultural in the sense that it presents the historical narratives of a range of cultures, without critique or comment and without offering any support for the value of the culture and civilization to which the students belong. 

The American Textbook Council (ATC), a national non-profit watchdog group, singled out History Alive! for its bias and prejudice, excoriating it for “an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security.” 

In a 2008 report, ATC spells out a damning indictment of the way such spurious material like this makes it into school texts throughout the country.   Its conclusions are worth quoting in full: 

“Textbook editors try to avoid any subject that could turn into a political grenade. Willingly, they adjust the definition of jihad and sharia or remove these words from lessons to avoid inconvenient truths that the editors fear activists will contest. Explicit facts that non-Muslims might find disturbing are varnished or deleted. Textbooks pare to a minimum such touchy subjects as Israel and oil as agents of change in the Middle East since 1945. Terrorism and Islam are uncoupled and the ultimate dangers of Islamic militancy hidden from view.

 None of this is accidental.  Islamic organizations, willing to sow misinformation, are active in curriculum politics. These activists are eager to expunge any critical thought about Islam from textbooks and all public discourse. They are succeeding, assisted by partisan scholars and associations. It is not remarkable that Islamic organizations would try to use ready-made American political movements such as multiculturalism to adjust the history curriculum to their advantage. It is alarming that so many individuals with the power to shape the curriculum are willfully blind to or openly sympathetic with these efforts. 

These distortions and biases about Islam in history textbooks could not prevail were it not for the all-important bridge between Islamist activists and multicultural organizations on and off campus. Both are eager to restrict what textbooks say about Islam. Multiculturalists are determined that social studies curricula do not transmit “Eurocentric”or “triumphalist” presuppositions about Western history and society. Middle East centers on campuses promote an uncritical view of Islam, often with a caustic anti-Western spin. Historians actively interested in taking world history curricula in this direction are prominent in textbook authorship. Encouraged to do so by reputable authorities, textbook publishers court the Council on Islamic Education and other Muslim organizations—or at least try to appease them. This legitimacy is bestowed in spite of longstanding questions about sources of funding and degree of control over publishers.”

 All parents should be concerned about these developments and should demand to be given a say in how Islam is portrayed in our children’s textbooks.  For the current curriculum and the texts themselves amount to a whitewash of Islamic teachings and history, failing entirely to account for a 1400-year- long legacy of Jihad and attempts to subvert the West.

The fact that the global  terrorist campaigns we witness today derive their legitimacy and inspiration from the same teachings that drove the Islamic conquests of medieval times, should be something our students know and learn.   This must be so no matter how and whether it breaches the boundaries of accepted multicultural dogma or aspirations.

First Salvo in the Battle For Our Children’s Education

March 16, 2010

News that the Texas Board of Education had decided on Friday to revamp Texas school text books to reflect traditional American values, has whipped to life a hornet’s nest of liberal opposition.  Not only did the conservative dominated Board have the gall to reject official texts which have been circulating inthe system for close to a decade,  but they ordered important changes made to the curriculum that would bring the text books more into line with true American history and ideals.  Conservatives on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school.

The curriculum standards will now be published in a state register, opening them up for 30 days of public comment. A final vote will be taken in May.

And what are the items the new curriculum seeks to correct?

Well, facts such as these:

  • The U.S. Constitution’s failure  to make any mention of the phrase ” separation of Chruch and State” ( a certain religious tenet of the left)
  • The conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 90s
  •  That the rise of the violent Black Panthers should be taught along side the passive ressitance movement promoted by Martin Luther King Jr. 
  • That the Great Society programs, passed during the Johnson administration, had many unintended negative consequences
  • That not only Japanese-American citizens were interned during the Second World War, but also Italian-Americans and German-Americans as well.
  • In the field of sociology, a significant amendment requiring the teaching of “the importance of personal responsibility for life choices” in a section on teenage suicide, dating violence, sexuality, drug use and eating disorders. 
  •  In economics ‘capitalism’ be changed to ‘free enterprise system’  and that both Milton Friedman and Frederich Hayek, champions of free-market economic theory, be given pride of place alongside Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes.

The changes the Texas Board ordered wouldn’t have troubled anyone, say, fifteen years ago.   But high school education has, over this period, become the bridgehead of reformers who have used text books to promote leftist causes such as radical environmentalism, multiculturalism and warmed over socialism.  

With carte blanche the progresives have been able shift the emphasis of American high school education from deep rooted appreciation of traditional values to a picayune culture of  criticism and complaint.

Liberals, of course, are apoplectic with indignation.  The Huffington Post screamed out the headline The Texas Book Massacre;  the New York Times opined that the curriculum has more to do with politics and ideology than education and the McClatchy Blog  suggested that the new curriculum  did  ” a disservice to taxpayers and the very children whose education needs to be improved, not politicized.”

This last sling at the conservatives deserves a retort.   Hearing liberals proclaim that until the conservatives came along educational curricula in the country was non-political is like hearing Americans claim that they have no accent.  There is a sense among liberal educators that education should be driven by a progressive and modern agenda which is more in keeping with truth and objectivity than a passe retailing of conservative tropes which focus on patriotism, Judeo-Christian values and American exceptionalism. 

But the kind of education our children receive these days,  as derived from social studies text books ( and I am witness to some of these from my own children’s high school texts)  is alarming, to say the least.   For a reading of some of these texts could make anyone come away with the notion that Americans ( and namely white Americans) are racist  colonizers who arrived on this continent four centuries ago to exterminate the natives, exploit the blacks and pollute the environment.   Very little about the extraordinary achievements in securing a level of human freedom hitherto unknown to mankind or facilitating a measure of  prosperity that has been a boon not just to Americans, but to the world. 

Admittedly, there are some foolish and largely gratutious amendments, such as the decision to drop Thomas Jefferson as one of the intellectual leading lights of the independence movement.  But for the main, the curriculum’s drive  to restore  a point of view which dominated our educational system for more than 150 years, draws from the same well as the desire to have our children recite  the pledge of alleigence  without any sense of irony or distate.    It is the kind of educational systen  in which patriotism is not a dirty word to be derided as old fashioned,  but  a symbol of pride in the achievements of a great nation.

The so-called Texas Book Massacre is therefore the first salvo in the war to reclaim that part of the nation’s heritage that liberals no longer deem worthy of discussion.  The presentation of the curriculum change, with its many amendments, will be heard far and wide since publishers of text books pay particular atttention to Texas as one of the country’s  most important markets.  Only California is quite as significant  to them.   And even here, rumblings of dissatisaction are being heard about high school curricula and how it has plunged education into a nihilistic abyss. 

Deeply politcized as our childrens’ education has become,  it is time now to strike back  against revisionism and return to an emphasis on the greatness of the American experiment,  which should, fittingly, be discussed together with any of its failures or shortcomings.

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