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.