Some years back the Rev. Jesse Jackson riled up the Stanford faculty and students with the chant, Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go. Lee Bass offered Yale University $20 million for a program in Western civilization, which the faculty at Yale rejected. Finally, the National Standards for History appeared, and white males were removed from history.
Genghis Khan, Idi Amin, Pol Pot and Saddam Hussein aside, evil Western civilization, with the exception of Ted Kennedy, has no place in history. The first history textbooks written to the standards are here. Fasten your seat belts because this is not your grandfather's history, but it could be your grandmother's.West Publishing Co. (by way of disclosure, West is a division of ITP, the publisher of four of my books) has "United States History: In the Course of Human Events" as its entry into the standards-based history book field. Its 1,198 pages are filled with more pictures, charts, graphs, art and features than a McDonald's Happy Meal box. One is immersed in the details of diversity, the women's movement and Bill Gates.
The industrialization of America is described as a process that increased the wealth of the upper class. Leaders and cultures have a different look. The brief biography of George Washington will ensure his Monday holiday is never restored: He was not completely successful as a military man or as a president. As Jefferson said, he had a heart that was not warm in its affections.
Apparently, Washington made the mistake of winning a war but not feeling his country's pain. By contrast, the Olmecs, a mother culture, appear in the text in lieu of groups such as Baptists and are praised for their writing, calendars and soccer games with the following aside: "Like other cultures of the time, the Olmecs may have practiced human sacrifice." Human sacrifice is acceptable if everyone does it. This same moral theory is used in the present-day White House for the sexual sacrifice of interns.
Conservatives are maligned. Ronald Reagan's "offhand remarks
whichT were a good indicator of his anti-Communist and anti-Soviet views" are appalling to the authors. To adopt the language of the high schoolers to be fed this drivel, "Duh!" Reagan made a policy speech in which he referred to the Soviet Union as the "evil empire." I'm no historian, but that description is not a particularly effective mask for his supposed offhand feelings.
Biographies, labeled "People Who Made a Difference," feature George Washington, Cesar Chavez, Sandra Day O'Connor, Frederick Douglas, Anne Hutchison, Mary Dyer, the Beecher family, Gordon Hirabayashi, Peace Corps volunteers, Mary Harris Jones, Jackie Robinson and the Mercury astronauts.
Our insensitive first president aside, there are no white males except for Charles Dawes (head of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation), who made a difference in U.S. history. The Peace Corps volunteers segment has a picture of a woman, and the Mercury astronaut segment describes Gerry Cobb, a woman who was unjustifiably left out of Project Mercury because she had no flight experience. What barbarians would require female astronauts to have flight experience?
The three pages devoted to World War II explain how women won that war for the United States. A feature called "Arts and Leisure" includes biographies of Ida Tarbell and Mary Otis (in which Thomas Paine appears as an aside).
In another feature called "American Scenes" women are featured yet again. There is a picture of a Jackie Kennedy "three-piece Chanel suit" enshrined as if it was the catalyst for the Civil Rights Act.
As the text moves into modern times, we learn that the growing underclass and poverty run along racial lines and "breed violent civil unrest, such as happened in the 1992 Los Angeles riots." Rodney King's name is mentioned only in a photo caption. We learn that AIDS research initially lacked funding because of "moral condemnation." The word "preventable" does not creep into the AIDS discussion.
The book ends with a photo of the "Father Knows Best" cast and the reassurance that this is no longer the "ideal American family. Now families are likely to have two or fewer children, the mother is likely to be employed outside the home, and the parents are as likely to divorce before the children are grown as they are to stay together."
The book then condescendingly observes: "Whether trends in divorce rates suggest the erosion of the American family and family values is not clear," (sociological and psychological evidence to the contrary are not mentioned).
This is not history. This, comrades, is indoctrination. Hillary Clinton's health task-force warrants a critical role as do Timothy Leary and Allen Ginsberg. A full page is devoted to Woodstock, but religion is virtually ignored in coverage of the American Revolution. "The Federalist Papers" have a couple of lines, and Thomas Paine's writings are used for an exercise on propaganda. The book is painful to read for its strained reconstruction of history. History is no longer facts, it is an agenda.