This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Texas's war on history

Texas's war on history - Comments

stevenwood21's Avatar Comment 1 by stevenwood21

This can only end one way for Texas and the USA if it spreads further - more decline and a reduced role in the world. Hard to believe but science is all that keeps us from falling behind.

Fri, 18 May 2012 12:28:07 UTC | #942167

thebaldgit's Avatar Comment 2 by thebaldgit

Of course the religious zealots want to do away with science and all forms of rationality anyone who can not win an argument with logic will do the only thing open to them and that is to deny any means of debate and in this case turn the Texan clock back to the 1700's.

Fri, 18 May 2012 12:33:04 UTC | #942168

sunbeamforjeebus's Avatar Comment 3 by sunbeamforjeebus

This is truly scary stuff!

Fri, 18 May 2012 13:02:15 UTC | #942173

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 4 by crookedshoes

The part that is most important to highlight is that because Texas is the largest buyer of textbooks in the country, textbooks that are rewritten there will then trickle out to the rest of the country. They will be the only ones available if these loons are allowed to continue to erode the educational system.

Unfortunately, what happens in Texas does NOT stay in Texas.

Fri, 18 May 2012 13:02:51 UTC | #942174

Sample's Avatar Comment 5 by Sample

Good article.

Mike

Fri, 18 May 2012 13:33:16 UTC | #942177

Jay G's Avatar Comment 6 by Jay G

"Their two is not the real two, their four is not the real four" Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fri, 18 May 2012 13:45:16 UTC | #942180

Sinister Weasel's Avatar Comment 7 by Sinister Weasel

How strange they trust the science behind the medicine that might save their lives, or practically everything else we take for granted.

Fri, 18 May 2012 14:23:32 UTC | #942186

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 8 by strangebrew

More fool the utter clowns that actually listen to and end up believing him and what is more are manipulated into thinking he has a point! A doofus like McLeroy cannot work in a vacuum...someone appoints him to committees and boards. And presumably someone votes him in! Waste of space and resources right there for every dimbulb that has done so and continues to do so!

As for Perry and his dismissal of evolution as 'a theory that's out there'.. Well certainly it is not anywhere near Rick, methinks evolutionary pragmatism has decided a blind alley is the best policy there. One wonders if the 'educational' establishment he attended should not be closed down and bulldozed as grossly unfit for purpose!

So elect a dip shit know nothing jeebus drooler get toxic turgid excrement over everything...

What ye sow shall ye reap ... and all that!

Only in this case a generation of kids will grow up mentally twisted and dumb because there are self serving ignorant pompous cretins pushing a fucking fairy story as truth and what is more without a shred of credible evidence.... How long before this joke turns really sour and economic decline really hits the state simply because they are a workforce brought up on shit...a year a decade..a generation!

That will be a crisis that will take more then a generation to fix.

Summat' stupid this way comes!

Fri, 18 May 2012 14:48:56 UTC | #942188

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 9 by The Jersey Devil

Now I'm depressed...

Fri, 18 May 2012 15:20:53 UTC | #942191

hitchens_jnr's Avatar Comment 10 by hitchens_jnr

I've got to say this - while there still aren't as many scientists as I'd like to see making a fuss about creationism, the science community has done a much better job at resisting and opposing this sort of religion-driven anti-intellectual idiocy than their colleagues in history departments. When you see what the religious right is trying to do to US history, the silence of the professional historians (with a few noble exceptions) is inexplicable. Historians can be incredibly vitriolic when they turn on each other: wouldn't it be nice to see some of that articulate bile directed at those who are trying to do substantial damage to their own subject?

Fri, 18 May 2012 15:53:01 UTC | #942194

Vorlund's Avatar Comment 11 by Vorlund

and that Noah's Ark had a unique, multi-level construction that allowed it to house every species of animal, including the dinosaurs.

This isn't stated in any bible I have read, and given its dimensions 2 of every insect would have sunk it instantly and without trace

McLeroy is part of a large and powerful movement determined to impose a thoroughly distorted, ultra-partisan, Christian nationalist version of US history on America's public school students. And he has scored stunning successes. .......................Dunbar isn't very subtle about her agenda. In one scene, the filmmakers track her to a prayer rally in Washington, DC, where she implores Jesus to "invade" public schools.

And we thought islamic fundamentalism was a problem!

The board goes on to remove the word "slavery" from the standards, replacing it with the more benign-seeming "Atlantic triangular trade".

While they are at it they can call lynching 'minority ethnic public entertainment' and pederastry 'pastoral care'.

No surprise most of the white supremacist groups in America were all xtians.

Fri, 18 May 2012 16:06:28 UTC | #942195

silentbutler's Avatar Comment 12 by silentbutler

Comment 4 by crookedshoes :

The part that is most important to highlight is that because Texas is the largest buyer of textbooks in the country, textbooks that are rewritten there will then trickle out to the rest of the country. They will be the only ones available if these loons are allowed to continue to erode the educational system. Unfortunately, what happens in Texas does NOT stay in Texas.

Sure, but what's happening there in Texas is also part of history. The United States is not the only country that produces historians. And this is not the 16th century, earlier textbooks on the founding of your country will not easily disappear. The rest of the world has eyes. Sadly, it's not only North Korean leaders that can keep its citizens in bullshit. But in North Korea, walls and guns keep the facts out, in Texas you have Religion.

Fri, 18 May 2012 16:13:03 UTC | #942196

Quine's Avatar Comment 13 by Quine

This was a very good article. See my comment on another thread about the need to counter the lies put out by David Barton.

Fri, 18 May 2012 16:41:58 UTC | #942197

crookedshoes's Avatar Comment 14 by crookedshoes

silentbutler, Yes, but we will end up with an entire generation educated and indoctrinated with lies and bullshit. That will take a long time to remedy.

Fri, 18 May 2012 17:19:45 UTC | #942198

alf1200's Avatar Comment 15 by alf1200

I gotta comment on this silly and childish thing called "noahs ark". This is more logistics and retorical questions.

To begin with, where did that much cut wood come from to construct an ark of that size? Where was the sawmill and how long did it take to process it?

How many skilled boatbuilders did it take to build the ark?

How did they collect the animals (several million) and how did they return them to their proper geographical location?

How long did it take to collect the animals and return them?

How did they provide for food for each type of animal? How many people did it take to take care of several million animals?

It's not that I don't believe in the story, As Lewis Black states "I have thoughts".

Fri, 18 May 2012 17:23:59 UTC | #942199

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 16 by rrh1306

I watched the video a few days ago from your link on the "The Myth of America’s Christian Heritage" thread and all I can say is, what a fucking liar. I've been trying to understand the mentality of this guy and and other religious history revisionist. It's one thing to misrepresent a subject like evolution that I think most creationist don't properly understand in the first place. But for a (supposed) historian to purposely misquote someone or just plain make up a quote to support their narrative is something else. It's not being ignorant, or incredulous, it's straight up lying. If I was going to take a stab at the mind set of people like him it would be this.

I'm not sure if other people from the U.S. feel this way but it seems to me that the religious right in this country have their own unique religion. It's a religion were America is the center of the universe and U.S. conservative's are god's chosen people. And since that is true, of course America was founded as a Christian country by staunch evangelical Christians. And if there's no way to prove this truism at the moment, just make up something until all the real evidence shows up. Because they'd hate for people to get the wrong idea in the mean time...

Comment 13 by Quine :

This was a very good article. See my comment on another thread about the need to counter the lies put out by David Barton.

Fri, 18 May 2012 17:42:25 UTC | #942201

Quine's Avatar Comment 17 by Quine

The Thinking Atheist has a podcast up on YouTube, The Marketing of Religion, in which (starting at about 0:21:30) Jerry DeWitt from the Clergy Project presents his concept of the AmeriGod as a mutation of Xanity produced by these bible belt conservatives.

Fri, 18 May 2012 18:03:37 UTC | #942202

xsjadolateralus's Avatar Comment 18 by xsjadolateralus

Here's where they erase history so we're doomed to repeat it.

Slavery and racism will be a completely foreign thing to the generations of the future, until the religious decide to resurrect it. Erase it, like it never happened and you can keep getting away with it.

How are we not accusing them of being the devils they pretend to be delivering us from?

They combat the idea that the Earth is getting hotter, despite all data.

They try to cover up evolution, as it explains our actual origins and makes racism irreconcilable.

They lie to the young, the old, the weak and erase their wickedness inflicted on humanity throughout history.

Didn't they say that the devil was the father of lies, or something? So smart he tricked himself?

I think the whole covering up the Earth getting hotter bit is the most damning evidence. :)

Children will learn that the Nazi's were atheists, evolution is propaganda, god is real, obviously, and blacks are scorched by god. Basically the "history" channel's weekend lineup!

Fri, 18 May 2012 18:19:16 UTC | #942206

rrh1306's Avatar Comment 19 by rrh1306

Yeah he nailed it. AmeriGod.

Comment 17 by Quine :

The Thinking Atheist has a podcast up on YouTube, The Marketing of Religion, in which (starting at about 0:21:30) Jerry DeWitt from the Clergy Project presents his concept of the AmeriGod as a mutation of Xanity produced by these bible belt conservatives.

Fri, 18 May 2012 18:20:32 UTC | #942207

Philoctetes                                        's Avatar Comment 20 by Philoctetes

Nothing new here. History has always been written and manipulated to confirm the agenda of those currently powerful. We have all read 1984 and know the lengths the dominant will go to write and re-write history to conform to their agenda.

Fortunately we live in a massively literate age where it is more difficult to massage the existing texts. But we should bear in mind that we can only guess at the accuracy of some of these, particularly those from the pre-Caxton era. These were largely written by a priesthood with a similar agenda to the Texas School Board.

Was it Woody Allen who asked: "What is truth other than a collective hunch?"

Fri, 18 May 2012 18:48:20 UTC | #942211

@TexasAtheist's Avatar Comment 21 by @TexasAtheist

I can say having gone through public education here in TX that it isn't what was always taught. Most of us have been taught evolution, not this trash. I don't think it will stick, there is a huge move in the state among non-religious, non-believers alike due to the COR movement and we hope to turn this mentality around. I know I appear to be somewhat optimistic or deluded, possibly both but all of the best movement ideas started out sounding a little kooky.

Texas is not synonymous with stupidity, so please know there are those of us fighting the good fight. We count on the rest of the community for solidarity & support so even if you live in a predominantly open minded community it's important to stand up against this thinking to show your support for those of us in more religious communities to remember we're not alone. The more numbers we have the less religious influences can violate our secular teaching, and pushing religion back to a personal level and out of our government and public institutions.

Not to take this type of education lightly, but I believe that reason will win out eventually.

Fri, 18 May 2012 19:21:17 UTC | #942214

Quine's Avatar Comment 22 by Quine

Was it Woody Allen who asked: "What is truth other than a collective hunch?"

That was before surveillance video and DNA forensics.

Fri, 18 May 2012 19:27:57 UTC | #942216

hemidemisemigod's Avatar Comment 23 by hemidemisemigod

"...and that Noah's Ark had a unique, multi-level construction that allowed it to house every species of animal, including the dinosaurs."

Of course! A multi-level construction. So that's how Noah did it. God, it's so obvious once you think about it.

Fri, 18 May 2012 19:33:53 UTC | #942218

alf1200's Avatar Comment 24 by alf1200

"Of course! A multi-level construction. So that's how Noah did it. God, it's so obvious once you think about it."

Sure! It went something like this.

Ok,....You dinosaurs are on the bottom level,...and don't eat the chickens.......Are you listening? Giraffes are on the top level so they can be the lookouts........And if you need to poop, please tell someone. The flying birds are on the top so they can go out for exercise and come back and tell us if they see land.(those are the talking birds).

The horses are on the top level cause this darn ship is so large we will need transportation from the stern to the bow. Put the sheep on the bottom level with the dinosaurs because they will be safe there. (oh yea,,,put a few in my quarters but don't tell anybody).

And send some hay to the galley for food because we don't plan on eating any animals.(if the dinosaurs promised I guess we can too).

Fri, 18 May 2012 20:43:33 UTC | #942227

kennym's Avatar Comment 25 by kennym

So scary that so called educated sane adults could pedal this primitive cultish bullshit.Passing it off as truth,opposing something as beautiful and mind blowing as science.

Fri, 18 May 2012 21:19:42 UTC | #942231

oeditor's Avatar Comment 26 by oeditor

The idiot isn't even a competent creationist - hasn't he heard of the "kinds" invented to get over Noah's accommodation problem?

Fri, 18 May 2012 21:22:35 UTC | #942232

inleaguewithsatan's Avatar Comment 27 by inleaguewithsatan

Comment 2 by thebaldgit :

Of course the religious zealots want to do away with science and all forms of rationality anyone who can not win an argument with logic will do the only thing open to them and that is to deny any means of debate and in this case turn the Texan clock back to the 1700's.

The level of intellect was greater in the 1700's, and if you've heard some of the fundamentalist's claims, the level of ignorance was lower, too.

Fri, 18 May 2012 23:14:09 UTC | #942242

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 28 by Cartomancer

It seems to me that there is a fundamental unease at the heart of pre-university history teaching which opens it up to this kind of thing.

Academic history writing is, or at least tries to be, an attempt to get at the truth of what was really happening in a particular historical period. In this it is forensic and empirical, just like science is. When such is one's only aim then ideological concerns are irrelevant and, when the subject pertains directly to those concerns, actively damaging. One would not trust a committed neo-Nazi to perform a study of the rise of European fascism, or a devoted catholic apologist a study of the inquisition.

But history teaching in schools is subtly different. Yes, it usually involves much by way of source-criticism and evidential reasoning, but there has always been and is still a pervasive idea that history should teach us something beyond what actually happened.

This began with history writing itself. Herodotus put in his Histories much by way of political philosophy and social commentary, and Thucydides even explicitly began with a preface describing his method, in which he openly admitted to making up bits of reported political speeches so that his version described not just what he or his witnesses remembered but what should have been said in that situation. Later Greek and Roman historians and biographers justified their efforts as works of moral instruction and national pride. It is no accident that Arrian chose to chronicle the conquests of Alexander, or Livy the history of Rome from the beginning to his own day. Neither, as far as we know, was deliberately mendacious, but their projects were definitely nationalistic ones. Polybius's history of Graeco-Roman interactions in the second century BC was also a pro-Roman work, aimed at staking out a place for Greek statesmen and intellectuals like himself in an increasingly Roman-dominated mediterranean world. Plutarch, with his Parallel Lives, was less directly involved in national politics, but even that was explicitly a work of moral guidance. Tacitus's Annals subtly bemoaned the changed world of his own, Imperial, times, and made tentative commentary on how different the rhythms of ambitious upper-class families were compared with what those described in Livy got up to. Ammianus Marcellinus wrote his histories from a pro-Julian, anti-christian standpoint, Augustine tried to convince christian Romans that the sack of Rome wasn't an eschatologically significant event, Bede tried to give the English a sense of naitonal identity, Gerald of Wales did the same for the Welsh and Irish, and so on...

I don't know a lot about American history teaching, but from the English history teaching I do know it is plainly apparent that the topics chosen have much more to do with a modern sense of morals and ethics than a dispassionate attempt to inculcate the niceties of source-criticism. Almost everyone does the Nazis, usually in the context of twentieth-century dictatorships. State schools almost always do the Industrial Revolution as well, while private schools often do The Tudors (the class-based divisions here are particularly shocking, but nothing new - I suspect these are chosen with the intention of making the material seem more relevant, but all it succeeds in doing is reinforces class stereotypes). We get the Holocaust as a warning against bigotry, racism and totalitarian tyranny. We get the Chartists and Suffragettes as an exhortation to political reform and moral progress. We get the Great Depression as an example of what can happen when unrestrained capitalistic greed is given free reign. All relevant, yes. All morally sound lessons that really need to be taught. But is history class the right place to teach them, and does this attempt to put them there not distort the nature of the enterprise?

By contrast, Medieval history is covered poorly, if at all. Not because it isn't interesting, but because it isn't considered relevant to the modern world, and doesn't have some kind of overall perspective-setting moral and ethical message to give. This wasn't always the case. Victorian thinkers were keen to paint England's medieval history as the basis and bedrock of its Imperial success and constitutional stability - Domesday Book, Henry II's Common Law, Magna Carta, Parliament, etc. But these days, although there is much in the Middle Ages that really did lay the foundations of the modern world, the romanticised Victorian idyll and the enlightenment scorn of medieval thought still hold sway, and the Middle Ages is a kind of irrelevant dreary otherworld that doesn't matter. After all, what moral messages relevant to today can one derive from the Becket affair or the Peasants' Revolt or the Crusades? Ancient history is slightly less overlooked in Britain, but only slightly. That tends to get its own curriculum, but fortunately it is generally taught as the history of somewhere else, a long time ago, and hence does not suffer from being corralled and distorted into a moralising lens or a source of nationalistic pride. That's one of the reasons I teach it. Or would if anybody thought I was up to the task anymore.

I suspect that the focus on the enlightenment and its role in shaping the US constitution, the slave trade and the like, are chosen for exactly the same reasons. A mixture of "relevance" and moral guidance.

Of course, nobody ever considers teaching what are arguably much MORE relevant historical topics, like the sexual revolution of the 1960s, the legacy of 1980s Thatcherism or the fortunes of the EU after the war. But those stop smelling like history after a while, and there's only so much concentrated piss Mrs. T's grave can take before it washes away entirely and she has to find somewhere else to recover her vampiric powers in peace.

But the fact remains that history teaching is shot through with ideas of national consciousness, moral instruction and "relevance" as a matter of course. Hardly anybody studies much of other people's history - we get the French Revolution only inasmuch as it is considered a seminal event in pan-European history. The Albigensian Crusade or the French Wars of Religion hardly get a look in, and the Meijii Restoration or Mughal Empire might as well have happened on Mars. The only reason Classical history still has any foothold is because there is still a strong association between the Classics and European high culture. Is is any wonder that in such an environment the ideologues of the political right see history as an important battleground for the promotion their ideas?

I doubt we'll ever stop history being used as the football of the nationalists, ideologues and people with an agenda. Indeed, to some extent everyone who looks at it will bring baggage of that sort. But surely it behoves that we admit to the degree of not-strictly-empirical fervour with which history teaching in general is imbued, remain as aware of it as possible and take steps to minimise it?

Fri, 18 May 2012 23:37:25 UTC | #942244

All About Meme's Avatar Comment 29 by All About Meme

Comment 28 by Cartomancer

Mmmmmm MMMMMM !!! That was tasty writing.

Sat, 19 May 2012 00:01:34 UTC | #942245

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 30 by Premiseless

Comment 28 by Cartomancer : The only reason Classical history still has any foothold is because there is still a strong association between the Classics and European high culture.

Let us see which tyre can be levered onto your rims. Back on the road to nowhere, from wherever you came. Cynicism lies ahead and behind. If you have chrome, best keep looking at your own reflection. Narcissism might be the only "Summer Holiday" to polish your mirrors of nostalgia.

I doubt we'll ever stop history being used as the football of the nationalists, ideologues and people with an agenda. Indeed, to some extent everyone who looks at it will bring baggage of that sort. But surely it behoves that we admit to the degree of not-strictly-empirical fervour with which history teaching in general is imbued, remain as aware of it as possible and take steps to minimise it?

By the time one has picked through the landfill of historical refuse, questions remain as to what and how it deserves recycling, that is even capable of resisting what surrounds it. The stench resurrects itself. Go heavy on the perfume!

Sat, 19 May 2012 01:54:17 UTC | #942247