Breitbart wants you to know that sharia law is coming to a Tennessee middle school ... or something like that:
Middle school parents in Tennessee are up in arms on learning that their children were instructed to recite and write, “Allah is the only god,” as part of a world history project.
In the Maury County School District, students were assigned a Five Pillars of Islam project that included the translation of the pillar of “Shahada” as being, “There is no god but Allah; Muhammad is his prophet.”
... [One] mother of a seventh-grade girl, Brandee Porterfield, complained to officials at Spring Hill Middle School because of its overemphasis on Islam to the exclusion of Christianity and Judaism....
Is that true? Let's see: This story is from Breitbart. The link in the story goes to an article at the Daily Caller; there's been coverage of this at Fox News and Fox News Insider and BizPac Review, as well as from David French at National Review. French's piece is titled "Can Tennessee Seventh Graders Be Required to Declare That There Is No God but Allah?"
So is there any coverage of this story that isn't from the right-wing media? What's the truth? Are these kids in Tennessee being "required to declare" fealty to Allah? And is this course really shunning Christianity and Judaism?
Er, not exactly, according to the Columbia Daily Herald:
Dr. Jan Hanvey, Maury County Public Schools middle school supervisor, said the curriculum and topics have been covered for at least 31 years. She is a former social studies teacher.
She said teachers do not spend three weeks specifically talking about Islam, but rather the geography, culture, economics and government surrounding the religion.
Islam is discussed for about one day of the three-week period, Hanvey said. By the end of the year, students will have studied Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions, she said.
“It’s part of history. If you don’t talk about it, then you are leaving out the ‘why,’” Hanvey said. “Children need to know the ‘why,’ and they need to be able to learn and know where to find the facts, instead of going by what they hear or what they see on the Internet.”
The chapter on Christianity was not skipped over but was put off until a later date, she said....
The state’s pacing guide says seventh grade social studies begins with the Islamic world, then moves on to studies in ancient Africa. The year ends with the “Age of Exploration,” which is continued in eighth grade.
Christianity is studied during the Age of Exploration section....
Oh, so you mean that the right-wing media is trying to inflame a national audience with this story, suggesting that kids are being "required to declare" that they believe there is no god but Allah while they're not being taught about Christianity and Judaism, when, in fact, that's not the case? I am shocked. Shocked!
At National Review, David French actually seems to grasp that it's okay to teach kids historical facts about religions other than their own, and he acknowledges that Christianity and Judaism are, in fact, going to be discussed in this curriculum.
But he doesn't like the way Christianity and Judaism are going to be discussed. In the Daily Herald story, we get a taste of that discussion:
Christianity is studied during the Age of Exploration section partly because religious persecution is one of the main reasons pilgrims left in search of a new world, Hanvey said.
French reads about that in the Daily Caller story, and harrumphs, or at least he approvingly quotes a harrumph from the Caller:
In fact, as the Daily Caller reported, the teaching about Christianity seems rather, umm, skewed:
It appears that Tennessee students don’t study Christianity per se. There is not, for example, one class day dedicated to the basic Jesus story.
[Middle School Supervisor Jan] Hanvey promised that students would eventually come across a reference to Christianity when history teachers reach the “Age of Exploration” in eighth grade. Then, students will hear about Christians persecuting other Christians in some countries in Western Europe.
So wait -- now conservatives consider it unacceptable to tell students that the folks who landed on Plymouth Rock were fleeing religious persecution?
I know that the right believes you should never teach that slavery was bad, or that whites mistreated Native people here in America, or that America ever engaged in imperialism overseas, even though all of those things are true. But now we're not allowed to say that America was a refuge for those who experienced mistreatment because of their faith -- which is, um, a critical part of the origin story of the United States? We're not allowed to say that because the persecutors were also Christian, and talking about them is insulting Christianity? Seriously?
I really hope that someday conservatives will give us a complete list of all of the historic facts we shouldn't be permitted to acknowledge in American schools -- though I guess they'll never get around to giving us that list of forbidden topics because they're too busy accusing us of "political correctness."
Crossposted at No More Mister Nice Blog