(To some . . .)
Note: This is a repost from March, but considering the recent developments in Texas it seems apropos today
With the recent fracas over School Textbooks in Texas, I was reminded how much of an ongoing story this is and how people, many of them either gullible or ignorant, react violently to fear being fed them. And how that fear is exploited and blown out of proportion for so many reasons, most all of them self-serving and usually under the guise of "populist causes".
Case in point: In the early 1970's there was a rash of protests, most from small communities throughout the U.S. that the school systems of the country, part of some vast government conspiracy, were turning school age children into horrible little Communists by subjecting them to "subversive textbooks". The protests, for the most part fueled by groups claiming to be Evangelicals (and some with ties to the John Birch Society), passed around leaflets with examples of the "obscene material"supposedly being taught in the K-12 system. The truth of the matter was, all the leaflets contained material nowhere to be found in any of the books in question and that this was another attempt by the Religious Right to disrupt the educational system in America.
On December 12, 1974, NPR ran, as part of their series "Options In Education" a documentary called "Censoring Textbooks: Is West Virginia the Tip Of The Iceberg?" In a word - yes.
Unidentified parent: “Now if the Board of Education comes over and tries to close us down or tries to put pressure on us, then I’ll fight. I’ll fight . . they can’t have my daughter. I have one daughter and I’ll fight ‘em to my death. And she’s goin’ to school where I want her to go to school. She’s gonna do what I tell her to do, not what some Board of Education or some government tells her to do. That’s my right. That’s our responsibility. You raise corn, but you train children.
Further evidence ignorance isn't bliss. But that was 1974. How much has it changed? According to a recent installment of To The Point, the Texas Board of Education is under almost exactly the same level of Screaming Nameless Fear as West Virginia was 36 years ago. In short, nothing has changed - only the names and faces. The ignorance is still without bliss.
As a bonus, I am running the To The Point broadcast from February of this year as a way of showing the similarities, despite years, of the controversy. Special thanks to KCRW and Public Radio International.