Friday, November 28, 2014

My Reflection on Moses becoming an honorary founding father

by Angela Valenzuela

Such ignorance, arrogance, and hypocrisy.

The flip, easy thing is to scoff and view as ridiculous the SBOE, and Texas, generally.  It's actually not funny at all if we unpack the bias contained within that is simply a more extreme version of what is otherwise generally the rule.

As Milton Gordon laid out in his definitive treatise, ASSIMILATION IN AMERICAN LIFE, the United States is not a pluralistic society where different groups with their own respective institutions thrive on relatively equal ground in harmony with other groups.  Nor is ours a melting pot society that results in the creation of a new synthesis called "American."  Instead, Gordon termed this "Anglo conformity," where the English language and Anglo cultural mores, and values (like individualism, a belief in a meritocracy, and free market capitalism) reign supreme.

Aside from the facts about Moses and the Constitution and the shady process of textbook adoption by the Texas SBOE that are serious enough issues, I underscore just how problematic  it is to cast our country as a “redeemer nation,”when if anything, it needs redemption from its many atrocious and continuing sins, beginning with the genocide, conquest, and colonization of native people and slavery—a past with which it still needs to fully reckon.   

My main point is that by using Moses as a symbol, this is a reinstantiation of Anglo, protestant (WASP) dominance and hegemony for public school students in Texas at a time of not only significant, but ground breaking demographic shifts.  According to the September 10, 2013 issue of the Texas Tribune:

 The current crop of seniors will likely be among the last not containing a majority of Hispanic students. It will also, based on preliminary enrollment data from the 2012-13 school year, probably fall among the last without a majority of students. from impoverished backgrounds.

The unspoken logics of cultural bias, chauvinism, dominance and the fear of the "other," lay behind Anglo conformity as instruments of control—and the continuing agenda of historical erasure of the histories of native people—lay behind moves like these that are important to call out.

 Young people, you have all the means at your disposal, to not only investigate all of this on your own, but to investigate the SBOE itself.  Find out who represents you and how they voted on this decision and let them know what you think.  Vote in school board and State Board of Education elections.  Consider running for this office in your own district.

Here is who sits on the board:  This link tells helps you find who represents you:

Educate yourself so that you, too, can stand up to these misrepresentations of the Bible and the U.S. Constitution and just as importantly, the larger, historic agenda to exercise cultural dominance and power over you behind lies and distortions like these.

So don't scoff at the board; get organized and get these right-wing zealots out.  Because curriculum entails the reproduction of consciousness, there are perhaps no more important battles than these anyway.  At the very least, liberate your minds!

© 2014 Angela Valenzuela

Christian Conservatives Make Moses An Honorary Founding Father

Texas approves textbooks with Moses as Founding Father

Christian conservatives win, children lose: Texas textbooks will teach public school students that the Founding Fathers based the Constitution on the Bible, and the American system of democracy was inspired by Moses.

On Friday the Republican-controlled Texas State Board of Education voted along party lines 10-5 to approve the biased and inaccurate textbooks. The vote signals a victory for Christian conservatives in Texas, and a disappointing defeat for historical accuracy and the education of innocent children.
The textbooks were written to align with instructional standards that the Board of Education approved back in 2010 with the explicit intention of forcing social studies teaching to adhere to a conservative Christian agenda. The standards require teachers to emphasize America’s so called “Christian heritage.”

In essence, Christian conservatives in Texas have successfully forced a false historical narrative into public school textbooks that portray Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy.

Critics called the whole process into question after publishers posted a number of last-minute changes to the textbooks yesterday, leaving board members and observers without time to figure out exactly what was in the approved texts.

According to reports, scholars did not have an opportunity to review and comment on the numerous changes publishers have submitted since the last public hearing. Some of those changes appeared to have been negotiated with state board members behind closed doors.

Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller issued the following statement:
“What we saw today shows very clearly that the process the State Board of Education uses to adopt textbooks is a sham. This board adopted textbooks with numerous late changes that the public had little opportunity to review and comment on and that even board members themselves admitted they had not read. They can’t honestly say they know what’s in these textbooks, which could be in classrooms for a decade.”
In addition to Miller’s complaints about the process, the Texas Freedom Network issued a statement on today’s State Board of Education vote to adopt new social studies textbooks for Texas public schools, noting:
the new textbooks also include passages that suggest Moses influenced the writing of the Constitution and that the roots of democracy can be found in the Old Testament. Scholars from across the country have said such claims are inaccurate and mislead students about the historical record.
Emile Lester, a professor of history in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of Mary Washington, claim the textbooks contain “inventions and exaggerations” about Christianity’s influence on the Founding Fathers and, by extension, the formation of American democracy.

Credible historians warn the misguided attempt to suggest biblical origins for the Constitution would lead students to believe that “Moses was the first American.”

Scholars claim the decision to include the biblical figure of Moses in social studies education is part of a concerted effort by Christian extremists to promote the idea that the United States is a “redeemer nation” – giving a divine justification for supposed American exceptionalism.

The proposed textbooks are deeply flawed, and have no place in a public school classroom. It is wrong and factually incorrect to teach Texas public school students that the Founding Fathers based the Constitution on the Bible.

Despite the efforts of Christian conservatives to pervert and twist U.S. history to satisfy their religious superstition, the fact remains Moses was not the first American, and America is not a Christian nation.

Children deserve the truth.
(H/T Right Wing Watch)

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