Sunday, March 21, 2010

Blacklisting the word 'capitalism'? How un-American

Commentary: Blacklisting the word 'capitalism'? How un-American
Rewriting the books reads like revisionist history to me.


John Kelso

Published: 8:28 p.m. Thursday, March 18, 2010
It's becoming obvious that the Texas State Board of Education needs to get one.

In a state as red as Santa's pants, the board has come out against capitalism. That's right. These allegedly Glenn Beck lovin', Sarah Palin worshippin', cap and trade dissin', health care plan hatin' folks want to wipe this nation's beloved economic system off the blackboard.

The board gave preliminary approval last week to replacing the word "capitalism" with "free enterprise" in the textbooks used by Texas school kids. So the board has proclaimed capitalism a dirty word — much like "liberal," a slur uttered by conservatives these days in the same guttural tone used for "slut."

Replacing "capitalism" in textbooks: That's just wrong. Capitalism is America's true religion. It is the essence of who we are. I keep expecting the Statue of Liberty to become the Statue of Liberty Mutual. What are these education board members thinking? In a nation where just about every stadium is named after a kind of orange juice, a bank or a ketchup, you want to kick capitalism out of the bar?

Ken Mercer, a conservative board member from San Antonio and a former state representative, says the board is pushing the change because capitalism has a negative connotation. It's the old "capitalist pig" thing. I called Mercer for a comment, but he didn't return my calls.

I find this sort of rewrite silly, a desperate attempt to pretty things up. But that sort of stuff is big these days. Remember when a problem, or, if you will, a "real mess," wasn't an "issue"? I have an issue with "issue." When my computer eats my notes, don't tell me I have an "issue." Hold the Melba toast, OK?

There are a couple of ironies here. Irony No. 1: On a Web site for Mercer, he says he's all about "U.S History that honors our American founders, traditions and values (political and historical revisionists — Adios!)"

I'd say whiting out "capitalism" is fairly revisionist. Honoring our American founders by messing with "capitalism," huh? I didn't realize the Pilgrims came here to start the Wheatsville Co-Op.

Irony No. 2: Part of the newspaper story I read about this switch appeared next to a big ad for a 50 percent off rug sale. So the expression "free enterprise" is wishful thinking. You know that big ad wasn't "free."

Changing the name of "capitalism" because it sounds ugly in a no-ugly zone, huh? Next thing you know, the Chinese will be switching "communism" to "sharing." Doesn't the board of education have something better to do, like, say, cleaning the blackboard erasers?

John Kelso's column appears on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 445-3606 or

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