Wednesday, September 24, 2014

exceptional

A few years ago I listened to a discussion regarding the exciting and sweeping changes to history textbooks that were being put into practice by the Texas Board of Education. It was exciting as in got my blood pressure to rise to literally dizzying heights. The new curriculum presented a revisionist version of the founding of the United States that purported her to be created as a distinctly Christian nation "chosen by God as a beacon to the world." As Thomas Jefferson's historical papers clearly showed him to strongly advocate for clear separation between church and state, the Texas Board of Education sidelined him in the history books. Ditto Ben Franklin (in fact, he's a bad man and burning in hell with Plato). I can't quite form a well structured response right now because dozens, literally dozens, of thoughts are banging around my brain, scrambling over each other to be heard over the clamor of other thoughts. So this is what a teeming brain feels like.

The school board that oversees Denver made the news today after teachers staged a sick in and shut down two high schools, followed by students walking out and protesting the board's plans ensure that materials "promote citizenship, patriotism...benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority..." and don't "encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law." And now I will take a deep breath before one of the louder thoughts slips out of my brain and I lose my argument through Godwin's Law.

Back when I was a bubbly, young student, I wrote an essay, probably the only good essay I ever wrote, which was why my professor subsequently stole it and published it under his own name. This is why you don't sleep with your professors, people. Anyway, that's another story. The essay came about after much introspection in the wake of 9/11. In almost all of the conversations that I had with fellow students, professors and friends, I noticed that Americans held some very out of date positions which contributed to our shock and disbelief. We believed in black and white, good and bad. Life was easy in the days of the Soviet Union because the world was comfortably divided into them and us. We struggled with the emerging multinational, poly-ethnic world where there was no good or bad, but gray tones everywhere. We still struggle with political complexity.

The Bible is the good book so we want it to always be true. The Constitution is part of the foundation of our great nation. These two are not allowed to be exceptional in our purview so the Texas and Denver school boards are attempting to reconcile the difference by making some tweaks to the history books. There will be a lot of bending and tweaking to frame the Bible as the driver behind principles of free will and self government but in the long run it will make us more comfortable to have God and the United States comfortably on the good side rather than our heads exploding over any dichotomies. I look forward to discovering how these issues are resolved.

Similarly, there is too much critical thinking involved in understanding how one can be a patriot and also criticize perceived injustices by our great nation so criticism is to be removed. We can't have our young and easily influenced children hearing anything negative about our country because it will lead to civil disobedience and next thing you know they will be writing a Declaration of Independence and speaking in the tongues of the beast.  

We should take exception to all these bad things being taught in our American history books and I am happy to support efforts to suppress bad thoughts about our good country. I, for one, will be relived to finally open up a history book the justifies my country in all ways, under God. I look forward to hearing about how the Vietnam war was a bad dream, how the trail of tears was really happy tears, and how Martin Luther King lived to the age of 90 and anyone who says otherwise hates America. USA! USA!

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