When I wrote that the Texas schoolbook rewrites were important becuase they could happen in other states, I didn't really expect to see the early adop
May 31, 2010

When I wrote that the Texas schoolbook rewrites were important becuase they could happen in other states, I didn't really expect to see the early adopters be the United Kingdom. Yet, the Guardian reports:

Niall Ferguson, the British historian most closely associated with a rightwing, Eurocentric vision of western ascendancy, is to work with the Conservatives to overhaul history in schools.

Speaking at the Guardian Hay festival, the Harvard-based academic, whose historiography is often considered to be an apology for imperialism, laid out his ideas for a vision of the school history curriculum in which, he said, children should be taught that the "big story" of the last 500 years "is the rise of western domination of the world".

In Ferguson's 2004 book "Empire: the rise and demise of the British world order and the lessons" he wrote this:

Between the early 1600s and the 1950s, more than 20 million people left the British Isles to begin new lives across the seas. Only a minority ever returned...To us, their decision to gamble everything on a one-way ticket seems baffling. Yet without millions of such tickets -- some purchased voluntarily, some not -- there could have been no British empire. For the indispensable foundation of the Empire was mass migration: the biggest in human history. This Britannic exodus changed the world. It turned whole continents white." (p. 44-45)

What a remarkable statement. No mention of the reasons for the mass diaspora; at least, not in this introductory paragraph. Just this: It turned whole continents white. The implications of that conclusion are mind-boggling.

This is the man who will be forming the curriculum for British schoolchildren, and here are his plans:

Along with a Channel 4 television series, he plans to produce materials for use in schools: "a four-year history syllabus on the west and the world".

The big question the course would attempt to answer, he said, was how in AD 1500 "the small warring kingdoms of Europe, which looked so feeble compared with the Ming or Ottoman empires, got to be so powerful". He said the syllabus was "bound to be Eurocentric" because the world was Eurocentric.

Answering criticisms from the audience that the project sounded uninterested in the fates of the oppressed, Ferguson lashed out against "the militant tendency" in the audience and said: "Can we get away from this rightwing-historian, apologist-for-empire crap?"

Oh, silly us, caring about the oppressed and those continents that weren't turned white, that aren't white, that aren't Eurocentric. Pity those who don't bow down to the great White Legend in deference.

Wanna bet Rupert Murdoch has a stake in it?

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.