Sikhs don’t like the picture of their religion’s founder in the seventh-grade textbook used in California. They say the picture, painted when Muslims ruled India, makes him look like a Muslim; the alternative proposed by the publisher looks Hindu.

In response to complaints, the state board of education voted to ask the pubisher to remove the picture from future editions and to supply a sticker to cover up the picture in textbooks already in use. Students will have to imagine what Guru Nanak looked like.

Diane) Ravitch, a professor of education at New York University, said she wasn’t surprised by the board’s decision. When the state approved textbooks several years ago, she said, the board responded to criticism from activists of every kind: Armenian, Polish, Arab, American Indian, Chinese, Japanese, African American, Latino, feminist, gay, Christian, Jewish, Muslim and atheist.

“The question is: Are they supposed to be accurate or are they supposed to be sensitive?” she said.

“California, unfortunately, leads the nation in trying to sanitize textbooks and make them sensitive.”

I see no problem in eliminating the picture in future books: The leader of a religion known for uncut hair and turbans probably didn’t trim his beard and wear a gold crown. But the sticker thing seems a bit creepy.

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  1. BadaBing says:

    I love stuff like this. It just shows how much better things are now that we live in this multicultural wonderland. Long live sensitivity, tolerance, and diversity. Ten thousand knives to the body of the white heterosexual male politic. Personally, I think pictures of the founding fathers should have black stickers over them because they owned slaves. We’re living in interesting times.

  2. Didn’t Microsoft, at one point, remove all references to the Armenian genocide so that they could market its Encarta electronic encyclopedia in Turkey?

    Sensitivity — real sensitivity, that is — is probably something we could use a little more of in this crazy world — but not “sensitivity” as a masquerade for censorship…

  3. I don’t see this as a matter of “sensitivity” as much as a matter of getting the facts straight. Textbook publishers are paid lots of money to present factual information. When they make blatant errors such as this, they should be required to correct them. This is just the price they pay for screwing up.

    Like the old carpenter said: Measure twice, cut once.

  4. Bill Leonard says:

    The “sticker thing” is more than a little creepy — and a little scary. It reminds me of nothing so much as life in the worst of the Stalinist days in the former Sov Union.

    The story has it that when a former revolutionary became an unperson in the Politburo’s estimatation, the word went out that the entry about him in the encyclopedia of the time was to be cut out and a new entry, which was sent to each owner, was to be pasted in place. And everyone dutifully did so.

    Ah, the joys of life in the worker’s paradise, where encyclopedias and typewriters and other dangerous articles were registered by the state. We’re not there yet, but many of us get kinda uneasy about newspeak in which good is bad, black is white, and anything is whatever some pressure group wants it to be.