Thursday, November 03, 2005

Where to Begin?

Teaching Americans to Hate America

Apparently my activism is making more waves than I expected. About a week ago, I showed Dr. Thomas Woods's book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History to one of the AP US History Teachers. She was rather delighted, and proceeded to order a copy for herself. Clearly she was a centrist, because after all the squeals of happiness, she immediately said, "you gotta examine history from all sides. I have to make sure some of the stuff I'm saying is irrefutably true." I was happy that someone was sensible enough to at least investigate into the "underground" scholarship of history. That happiness faded fast.

I was walking homeroom this morning and I couldn't help but notice that there were multiple copies of A People's History of the United States and Lies My Teachers Told Me circulating. I myself have used the first book. It's not bad, but it's pretty much accepted that Howard Zinn is extremely liberal revisionist and anti-American. Normally I wouldn't object to the teaching of his book, but teaching it in coordination with Lies My Teacher Told Me (DON'T BE FOOLED BY THE TITLE; IT'S AN EXTREMELY ANTI-AMERICAN BOOK) puts our US History curriculum in question. If this wasn't in response to my presentation of P.I.G, it makes me even more suspicious of what the history teachers may be doing. This type of stuff should really be subject to a good amount of scrutiny.

Anecdote of the Day

During a group discussion in Medieval Literature, I pointed out that the Jews are the most oppressed people in the world. Immediately, a prominent liberal tries to nail me for my anti-Semitism. He backed down because 1) Someone else in another group (a liberal) was saying the exact same thing and 2) I interrupted his ad hominem and finished my statement: the prized Ivy League Schools, the American government, and the U.N. are only making the world worse for them, and that this kind of treatment should end.

Bulletin Board

The Cindy Sheehan column is still making reverberations. This morning, I noticed that one of our giant bulletin boards was covered with a giant map of the United States. I didn't know the purpose of this map, so I ignored it. Later today, a few kids were placing pins on the map. Guess what they represent? Give me a silent nod if you catch my drift. There was a handwritten title describing the map as "US Casualties in Iraq" and a sheet of paper on the site saying "Each pin represents one body that will be returning home inside a flag-draped coffin." Technically the bulletin board is free use, so I can't do anything about it, but damn. It's on. I've been on the defensive for a while now, but it's time to start taking the offensive. Now that I'm writing for the school newspaper, I have a very useful tool to make my attacks.

More on the school newspaper

Many of the letters I read actually agree with my view. Naturally a few people called me an extremist obnoxious jerk, but in a school where Political Correctness is a mentality, I was suprised that more people agreed with me than not. It turns out that even the anti-war crowd is sensible enough to realize that Sheehan had an underlying motive and was being an extremely annoying presence. Not to mention, her conduct and her speech were absolutely flippant for a "grieving mother." I guess I have a lot of work to do this year when converting people to neoconservatism. No word yet on whether or not I should respond to some of the letters in the next issue of the school newspaper.

School Newspaper coverage is ongoing. Keep on tuning in.


At 1:19 PM, Blogger squantum said...

I agree with your teacher: "you gotta examine history from all sides." So why is it OK for you to pass around your alternative history book ("The Politically Incorrect..."), but not for other versions ("Lies...")? You should be happy that other people are as willing to challenge the curriculum as you are.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Mike DuBois said...

That I have no problem with. My beef is that "Lies" is now an official book while PIG is just something one teacher privately distributes. Examining history on all sides means having the entire department read PIG in addition to lies, not just one teacher

At 11:39 PM, Blogger The Judge said...

My complaint is with the title of the post, which reflects an infuriating casuistic philosophy among right-wing thought: If you are critical of American policy, then ipso facto you hate America. Malkin, Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh have all built their careers on that jejeune attitude. Why does the Right lack the insight to see that I can support the troops while simultaneously opposing the war, or that I can lament the fact that 2,037 US troops (among whom people I knew) have been killed in Iraq for a war that was perpetrated on a lie while at the same time supporting the overall geopolitical doctrine that was behind it? Why is it treasonous to recognize that, yes, in fact, the settlement of the North American continent was a brutal, racist, deliberately genocidal affair (which we should be cognizant of when we deal with other countries) but even so, the society that grew from it is still the most enlightened in the world. Why can't I highlight the hypocrisy of those who fight tooth-and-nail for liberal markets until the moment they start to suffer at the hands of those markets (the oil, steel, airline, music, farming, auto, energy industries to name a few) while acknowledging that US-style free-market capitalism is still the best (though far from perfect) economic system we have. I could go on and on. But instead, when Mike sees a map of US casualties in Iraq, he immediately feels himself under attack. Why can't he say in his column "Gee, it really sucks that Sheehan and 2,036 other mothers lost their sons because we had poor intel, misunderstood the task at hand, and improperly deployed our troops, but hey, Saddam is on trial and the Iraqi constitution was passed."

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Mike DuBois said...

Dude, read my previous comment. I can care less if this is a private effort, and I will to the best of my ability combat those kind of things. Did I say I wanted that map torn down? Nope. I've even specified that even IF I wanted it torn down, I would not be able to. Thus, the best I can do is write in support of the war using my school newspaper.`

However, in reference to the teaching of Anti-Americanism, that kind of slanted teaching is sanctioned and funded by the school, which is in turn funded by taxpayer money. Taxpayers don't pay to have a school teach from one side; they pay so that soft subjects (like history, economics, etc) are examined from at least as objectively as possible, time permitting. Thus, there is no problem with teaching Anti-Americanism from "Lies My Teacher Told Me." Even as a patriot I accept that this country and the people in it did very assholish things in the past. However, books like "Lies My Teacher Told Me" emphasize the reprehensible things and omit anything else. Does PIG do it? Of course, but even then, it was more critical of the policies rather than the country itself. Thus, your point of "caustic rightwing philosophy" becomes moot. I also must reiterate the fact that I SHOWED P.I.G. to a teacher, and did not storm to the principal's office demanding that it be taught.

On my next post, perhaps I should make myself clearer. That way my post won't be misinterpreted and taken out of context. On your side, you should judge the reasonability of your extrapolations and perhaps not make yet another oblique comment.

At 10:35 PM, Blogger The Judge said...

Mike, you entirely missed my point, which was hardly oblique (or maybe to you it was, which just adds weight to my case). I wasn't referring to your history books, or to the map in your hallway. I was referring to the fact that you said that using a textbook that you don't agree with is "teaching Americans to hate America." I was saying that your arguments lack nuance because they have a "you're either with me or against me" quality. And you did it again in your response above, but you don't seem to be aware of it. So let me ask you a question. Why is "Lies..." anti-American? You yourself say the book contains fact.

At 2:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stock Alert - FPPL On The Rise!

At 11:56 AM, Blogger Mike DuBois said...

It becomes pretty hard to see your point when you make your entire post in one paragraph and cram everything in there, including a few tangential comments.

While "Lies" contains fact, deliberate emphasis of certain facts (i.e. the the negative aspects of the US) and deliberate downplaying and omission of others (the positive aspects of the US) hardly makes it the best supplemental choice for the US History curriculum.

At 10:31 PM, Blogger The Judge said...

Okay, now we are getting somewhere. What you've told me is that "Lies," because it emphasizes the negative and neglects the positive, makes a poor US history textbook. I accept that. But I ask again, why is it anti-American? Are faulty pedagogical techniques treasonous?

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Mike DuBois said...

Doesn't need to be treasonous to be anti-American. If it had been treasonous, I would have specified that in my original assertion.

My interpretation of "anti-American" is that "Lies" shows disdain for America through the deliberate emphasis of half the story. Furthermore, it also is intended persuade the reader that America is bad. It's not treasonous, but is still, to me, anti-American.

At 12:42 AM, Blogger The Judge said...

I don't know if this thread is still active, but I wanted to note that I read "Lies My Teacher Told Me" over the weekend, and I have to say that Mike completely missed the point of the book. Mike, did you read the forward? The whole purpose of the book is to make history more relevant for students by removing the blatent patriotism and whitewashing the author finds typical of high school history textbooks. So not only do I disagree that the book is anti-American, but I now also disagree that the book makes poor pedagogy.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Mike DuBois said...

Yes, I have read the foreword, and judging by the nature of your comment, that's probably the only thing you've read (or took to heart).

At 6:12 AM, Blogger The Judge said...

Mike, I'll be blunt. If you truly believe what you say about "Lies," and you truly have read it, then I will agree with you that we should weep over the state of the public education system. Because this system is either churning out ideological stooges who don't let analysis get in the way of demagoguery, or it is producing mindless automatons who can't apply thoughtful criticism or insight. (An even scarier possibility is that the students can't actually read, but that doesn't apply to you). If today's students read "Lies" and come away from it thinking that it is un-American (whatever that means) or unpatriotic, instead of a critique of the way US history is taught in public schools, then the future is indeed doomed.

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