Tuesday, October 07, 2008

'Jesus was a Palestinian,' claims U.S. history text

Study: American public school books have 'same inaccuracies' as Arab texts

A new study reveals that if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wanted to criticize the nation of Israel before the United Nations, he could use American public school textbooks to do so. "It is shocking to find the kind of misinformation we discovered in American textbooks and supplemental materials being used by schools in every state in the country," said Dr. Gary Tobin, president of the Institute for Jewish & Community Research and a co-author of the study. "Elected officials at every level should investigate how these offensive passages are creeping into our textbooks. Presenting false information in the classroom undermines the very foundation of the American educational system," he said.

Tobin teamed with insititute research associate Dennis Ybarra for the study, titled, "The Trouble with Textbooks: Distorting History and Religion." The five-year effort, which looked at 28 prominent history, geography and social studies textbooks, reveals American public school students are being loaded up with indoctrination about Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the Middle East, to the cost of Christianity and Judaism and the benefit of Islam.

The study also supports other assessments of U.S. texts on which WND has reported. According to an earlier report from the American Textbook Council, history textbooks throughout the U.S. schooling system promote Islam.

The new study by the IJCR found more than 500 erroneous passages in the books, including one textbook that charged that early Jewish civilization contributed little to the arts and sciences. An excerpt from "World Civilizations," published by Thomson Wadsworth, for example, said, "Excepting the Old Testament's poetry, the Jews produced very little of note in any of the art forms ... There is no record of any important [early] Jewish contributions to the sciences." The level of outrageousness grew: "Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus," claims "The World," published by Scott Foresman.

"The textbooks tend to be critical of Jews and Israel, disrespectful about Christianity, and rather than represent Islam in an objective way, tend to glorify it," said co-author Ybarra. "To teach children, for instance, that Jesus was a Palestinian and de-emphasize his Jewishness does a disservice to Christians and Jews as well as anyone who cares about historical accuracy."

The institute analyzes issues such as racial and religious identity, philanthropy and higher education. Its full report is available at TroubleWithTextbooks.org, where all 28 books that came under its review are listed.

The organization said its study revealed textbooks include routinely negative stereotypes of Jews, Judaism and Israel. For example, Israel is blamed for starting wars in the Middle East and Jews are charged with deicide, and the problems are rife through the three mega-publishers that have deep enough pockets to get approval and publish a textbook in the major states of Texas and California.

"The 'Trouble with Textbooks' is a very important book not only for Jews but for the entire Christian community," said Rev. John J. Keane, ecumenical officer for the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. "This volume is an excellent tool for anyone who is interested in balanced information that is fair and reliable concerning Judaism, Christianity and Islam." The authors found textbooks that stated or suggested:
Jesus was a "Palestinian," not a Jew.

The Arab nations never attacked Israel. Arab-Israeli wars "just broke out," or Israel started them

Arabs nations want peace, but Israel does not

Israel expelled all Palestinian refugees

Israel put the Palestinians in refugee camps in Arab lands, not Arab governments

Palestinian terrorism is nonexistent or minimal

Israel is not a victim of terrorism, or terrorism against Israel is justified

U.S. support of Israel causes terrorism, including 9/11

The intifadas were children's revolts not involving adults or terrorism

They also found that Judaism and Christianity are treated as matters of believing, while Islam is treated as a matter of fact. In the glossary of "World History: Continuity and Change," the Ten Commandments are described as, "Moral laws Moses claimed to have received from the Hebrew God Yahweh on Mount Sinai." But the same glossary states as fact the Quran is a, "Holy Book of Islam containing revelations received by Muhammad from God."

The study found, "Islam is treated with a devotional tone in some textbooks, less detached and analytical than it ought to be. Muslim beliefs are described in several instances as fact, without any clear qualifier such as 'Muslims believe. . . .'"

Likewise, the Islamic empire of the Middle Ages was "a time of unqualified glory without blemishes," and Muslims "always tolerated Jews," unlike their Christian counterparts. The texts use terms such as "stories," "legends" and "tales" to talk about Jewish writings. "If the president of Iran wants to blast Israel at the U.N., he can use American textbooks to do so," Tobin concluded.

The earlier ATC report took two years to study textbooks, and its author, Gilbert T. Sewall, found the problems regarding Islam "are uniquely disturbing." "History textbooks present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security," the ATC report said."Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American-made political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify the makeover of Islam-related textbook content." "Particular fault rests with the publishing corporations, boards of directors, and executives who decide what editorial policies their companies will pursue," the report said.

One of the executives for a text critiqued by ATC, Bert Bower, founder of TCI, told WND at the time not only did his company have experts review the book, but the state of California also reviewed it and has approved it for use in public schools. "Keep in mind when looking at this particular book scholars from all over California (reviewed it)," he said.

One of the experts who contributed to the text, according to the ATC, was Ayad Al-Qazzaz. "Al-Qazzaz is a Muslim apologist, a frequent speaker in Northern California school districts promoting Islam and Arab causes," the ATC review said. "Al-Qazzaz also co-wrote AWAIR's 'Arab World Notebook.' AWAIR stands for Arab World and Islamic Resources, an opaque, proselytizing 'non-profit organization' that conducts teacher workshops and sells supplementary materials to schools."


On the importance of grammar

There are schools of grammar, and I belong to none of them. Among the schools are traditional grammar, modern grammar and what is sometimes called transformational-generative grammar, the scientific-sounding grammar linguistics students learn these days. I'm uneasy with the diction of this (dominant) school of grammar - it's hard going for a writer on deadline - and I'm uncomfortable with its claim to "correct" the "errors" of older traditional grammar.

I'm more comfortable with the commonsense and plain-spokenness of modern grammar. Like others, I look at what the postmodern grammarians have to say, and I look back to the ancients, and I look in the middle, to acknowledge disagreements and developments, to discuss differences of view, and in the end to come as close as I can to a clear and useful description of everything important.

The larger part of grammar isn't especially mysterious or contentious. But there are controversies, and there are areas where even now the scholars are trying to agree how best to make sense of usages that have been in the language since Chaucer's April showers [An allusion to the opening line of the Canterbury Tales: "Whan that Aprill with his schoures sote" - according to Skeat]. (How do we properly understand the infinite phrase, for instance, in "I'd love you to love me"?)

Grammar doesn't construct language; it describes the way it goes. Grammar tries to explain how language works, so that we might use language, especially on paper, with some insight and consistency, and in doing so keep it strong. Because grammar scares some of us witless, even though we practise it most of the moments of our waking lives, talking or writing, and because there's a school of thought that looks on grammar as a kind of tyranny imposed on our creativity by a cardigan-wearing cadre of joyless pedants, I offer you this metaphor for grammar.

Grammar is the rules of democracy, which regulate and perpetuate this imperfect paradise of ours. It's the bundle of shared values, etiquettes, codified or inherited rights and obligations, along with a certain amount of governance infrastructure, all of which helps keep us in the freedom (of speech) to which we are accustomed.

Now, as someone has said - with the activities of the CIA in mind - democracy can be overdone, and so can grammar. But we need some rules if we want what democracy allows us, if we want to prevent anarchy and tyranny. And we want some rules and we need to practise them if we want meaning to abound.

The rules of grammar are the rules for paradise. The institutions and articles of democracy manufacture and conserve freedom. The rules of grammar manufacture and conserve language, with its power to make and share meaning. Grammar is the system inside the language; it is the constitution of the tongue. And if we want a community of sense - if we want to continue the vigorous and sometimes absurd and sometimes glorious conversation about ourselves and our world that we carry on in literature and government and everyday speech - then we'll need to know and observe our language's bill of rights: we'll need to learn and practise our grammar.

Now, I don't care for undue formality, the kind that pedantic insistence on grammar can foster. Grammar, like democracy, can be overdone. I like intelligent informality. We need a diversity of styles; each of us needs to find our unique voice and native syntax. That's the kind of democracy I'd fight for. I'm drawn, in particular, to the beauty of authentic vernacular, and some of that disobeys grammar.

If you're writing, though, you'll need to obey more rules. Readers demand it; if they're to follow you without your waving arms and your twinkling eyes and the acts that accompany speech, readers need you to take more care with the words and how you lay them down. But you don't have to sound pompous. Good writers sound like good talkers - but a little tidier.

My point is this: getting your grammar down shouldn't make you sound like the Queen of England. Correctness doesn't entail formality. Sound sentences needn't sound stilted. Indeed, such writing will fail. It's a lapse of taste, a want of cool, no matter how correct it is. So, relax your diction, but straighten your syntax. Stay cool; write like you speak, only better. The "better" is where the grammar comes in.


Forgetting the Past

My radio partner Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas noted an appalling instance of historical ignorance in the Minneapolis public schools, and added his thoughts on the current epidemic of amnesia:
When asked what historical figure they'd most like to study this year, an astounding 22 of the 35 students in Ms. Ellingham's eighth-grade history class at Susan B. Anthony middle school in Minneapolis answered, "Yoko Ono" and/or "John Lennon."

I weep for the future. The great historian David McCullough was on C-SPAN this past week, looking like a beaten man while describing the crushing level of historical ignorance among America's youth. He summed up with the warning that one can never love a country one doesn't know. It sounded like an epitaph.
Brian quotes from McCullough's address when he accepted the National Book Award:
We, in our time, are raising a new generation of Americans who, to an alarming degree, are historically illiterate. ...

Warning signals, in special studies and reports, have been sounded for years, and most emphatically by the Bradley Report of 1988. Now, we have the blunt conclusions of a new survey by the Education Department: The decided majority, some 60 percent, of the nation's high school seniors haven't even the most basic understanding of American history. The statistical breakdowns on specific examples are appalling.

But I speak also from experience. On a winter morning on the campus of one of our finest colleges, in a lively Ivy League setting with the snow falling outside the window, I sat with a seminar of some twenty-five students, all seniors majoring in history, all honors students-the cream of the crop. "How many of you know who George Marshall was?" I asked. None. Not one.

We have noted several times Barack Obama's surprising ignorance of American history. But in that context, maybe it isn't surprising at all. Maybe Obama is above average by today's standards.

My youngest daughter started middle school this year. After around a month of classes, as far as I can tell the curriculum consists largely of propaganda about recycling. My high school age daughter told me tonight that in Spanish class she has been taught to say "global warming," "acid rain" and "greenhouse effect" in Spanish. I don't think they've gotten around to translating "hoax" yet.

The schools can teach anything if they care about it. The problem is that they don't care about teaching history, least of all American history. Public education is agenda-driven, and American history--the facts of American history--is not on the agenda.

Which leaves us with McCullough's sad conclusion. The heritage that our forefathers sacrificed so much to leave us will most likely soon be lost, because the next generation won't even know what that heritage is.


1 comment:

IftikharA said...

Muslim youths are angry, frustrated and extremist because they have been mis-educated and de-educated by the British schooling. Muslim children are confused because they are being educated in a wrong place at a wrong time in state schools with non-Muslim monolingual teachers. They face lots of problems of growing up in two distinctive cultural traditions and value systems, which may come into conflict over issues such as the role of women in the society, and adherence to religious and cultural traditions. The conflicting demands made by home and schools on behaviour, loyalties and obligations can be a source of psychological conflict and tension in Muslim youngsters. There are also the issues of racial prejudice and discrimination to deal with, in education and employment. They have been victim of racism and bullying in all walks of life. According to DCSF, 56% of Pakistanis and 54% of Bangladeshi children has been victims of bullies. The first wave of Muslim migrants were happy to send their children to state schools, thinking their children would get a much better education. Than little by little, the overt and covert discrimination in the system turned them off. There are fifteen areas where Muslim parents find themselves offended by state schools.

The right to education in one’s own comfort zone is a fundamental and inalienable human right that should be available to all people irrespective of their ethnicity or religious background. Schools do not belong to state, they belong to parents. It is the parents’ choice to have faith schools for their children. Bilingual Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim teacher or a child in a Muslim school. There are hundreds of state schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be designated as Muslim community schools. An ICM Poll of British Muslims showed that nearly half wanted their children to attend Muslim schools. There are only 143 Muslim schools. A state funded Muslim school in Birmingham has 220 pupils and more than 1000 applicants chasing just 60.

Majority of anti-Muslim stories are not about terrorism but about Muslim culture--the hijab, Muslim schools, family life and religiosity. Muslims in the west ought to be recognised as a western community, not as an alien culture.
Iftikhar Ahmad