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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Won’t know much about history

“They’re trying to take away our history,” said President Trump at an Arizona rally.

He cited the middle-of-the-night removal of The University of Texas Confederate statues at the University of Texas. (In addition to Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, UT removed Gov. Jim Hogg, who was not a Confederate because . . . ?)

Sportscaster Robert Lee and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee

You can’t take away history. It’s still there, with or without statues. But you can teach it poorly — or not at all.

California’s new history and social studies framework is riddled with errors and “trendy ideological propaganda,” writes Bill Evers, a Hoover Institution fellow.

Janet Nicholas, a member of the State Board of Education when the 1998 curriculum-content standards for history were adopted, complains of “political correctness, identity politics, and unscientific economics.”

Evers cites praise for the “goo-goo reform” of the early 20th-century Progressives, but no mention of “the Progressives’ devotion to eugenics and their opposition to African Americans getting an academic education? . . .  Where are the centralization, the Imperial Presidency, the cult of efficiency, and the rule of experts that are integral to Progressivism?

The framework portrays major religions “in terms of how they help the rulers dominate their subjects and control society,” writes Evers. It also “give credence to baseless ideological claims of Hindu nationalists that ancient Indo-European was an indigenous language of India.” (Indo-Americans lobbied hard to influence the portrayal of India and Hinduism.)

The history curriculum framework incorrectly tells us that the American Founders and those political thinkers who influenced them believed we should cede our inalienable rights to the government (if so, then our natural rights aren’t inalienable).

Social Darwinism is called a cause of imperialism, even though “the leading Social Darwinists Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner opposed imperialism,” Evers complains.

Capitalism is described as “inherently imperialist and colonialist,” while students are encouraged to imagine a “purer” and less repressive form of communism.

Why are students to be taught as fact the Marxist theory of “informal empire,” which says that free trade without conquest is basically the same as empire based on conquest? Why do whole sections of the framework read as if they are pamphlets written by antiglobalization street protesters carrying giant papier-mâché heads?

Arizona’s ban on ethnic studies courses is unconstitutional, a federal judge ruled yesterday. Judge A. Wallace Tashima wrote that the ban, which ended a Mexican-American Studies program in Tucson, was “motivated by a desire to advance a political agenda by capitalizing on race-based fears.”

“The law prohibits courses that promote resentment toward a race or a class of people or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating people as individuals,” reports the Associated Press.

Marc Tucker writes about teaching history in troubled times. When he taught public policy, his graduate students didn’t want to understand opponents’ arguments.

Weren’t we supposed to argue for our positions in the public arena, present evidence for our positions, be prepared to hear the other side, see what evidence they had and listen to the logic of their position before finally making up our mind?  Isn’t that what a democracy is all about?  The answer I got was no.  The morally right thing was obvious.  Our obligation was simply to advocate for that position.  Any attempt to understand another person’s view, if it differed from your own, might legitimate that view.  Period.

Tucker advises teachers: “Put your students in the position of having to argue the case for keeping the statues up.  If you do that, they will be forced to research the arguments that the advocates for that position have actually taken.”

They might learn something.

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