The Washington Monthly has a good, disturbing article about the Texas Board of Education:
“I don’t care what the educational political lobby and their allies on the left say,” he declared at one point. “Evolution is hooey.” This bled into a rant about American history. “The secular humanists may argue that we are a secular nation,” McLeroy said, jabbing his finger in the air for emphasis. “But we are a Christian nation founded on Christian principles. The way I evaluate history textbooks is first I see how they cover Christianity and Israel. Then I see how they treat Ronald Reagan—he needs to get credit for saving the world from communism and for the good economy over the last twenty years because he lowered taxes.”
Until recently, Texas’s influence was balanced to some degree by the more-liberal pull of California, the nation’s largest textbook market. But its economy is in such shambles that California has put off buying new books until at least 2014. This means that McLeroy and his ultraconservative crew have unparalleled power to shape the textbooks that children around the country read for years to come.
Perhaps I’m wrong wrong to make this comparison, but the right’s obsession with altering textbooks seems of a piece with its obsession with critiquing ostensibly non-political movies like “Avatar”. While today’s left thinks in terms of public options and stimulus details — however heatedly and irrationally — the right thinks in terms of changing the nation’s culture.
I used to think of this as just another pony plan: it’s much easier to say you’ll deal with a problem by changing the culture than by commissioning studies, enacting new legislation, etc., but now I think it’s something quite different, that they really believe that if kids watch “Avatar”, they’ll grow up to be pagans and we’ll all end up in Hell.