Yesterday I warned Americans about the danger of Russian-style, post-modernist “unreality” taking hold in America if fear-mongering confidence men like Glenn Beck are not opposed. Today I encountered a piece from the heartland which shows you that America is not too far removed from Russia when it comes to poor critical thinking skills.
If America has any edge on Russia in terms of political theatrics, it’s that the American Republican party is pretty good at keeping the real nutcases bottled up in state legislatures while only letting more moderate types ascend to the House and Senate in DC. Sure, there are exceptions, such as when it comes to reproductive rights issues, and the party has been steadily moving to the right. However, for the foreseeable future we can rest assured that the honorable Cody “Bubba” Jerritt, whose pet projects include returning to the gold standard, proclaiming Jesus Christ the “True King of America”, and automatic secession from the USA in the event of an invasion by UN troops will never manage to escape Alabama. He’d be defeated in the primary and forced to go back home to his home town of Methlabburg.
Of course if you give these people enough time to stew and spread their message, they could one day gain more influence on a national scale, much the same as the religious right achieved during the Culture Wars of the 90’s and under the Bush years. What is more, is that even if they can’t influence power at the federal level, it doesn’t mean they can’t totally wreck things in their states. There’s a reason why reactionaries throughout American history tended to be advocates of states’ rights after the Civil War. At the state level they can bully and intimidate people with impunity unless the federal government steps in.
Who are these people? Well today’s item is about dipshits in Oklahoma who are upset about the “political agenda” in their public school history curriculum. What political agenda you might ask? It’s not patriotic enough! Apparently, deliberately molding and shaping a history curriculum so as to make it more “patriotic” is not a political agenda at all. Except when other countries do it, of course.
Let’s check out a few horrifying excerpts, shall we?
An Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly voted to ban Advanced Placement U.S. History class, persuaded by the argument that it only teaches students “what is bad about America.” Other lawmakers are seeking a court ruling that would effectively prohibit the teaching of all AP courses in public schools.
Hmmm…This sounds really familiar. When I was a young lad we had conservatives complaining about “politically correct” textbooks that were supposedly denigrating America’s great white heroes. Incidentally, I never encountered any of those books. All my textbooks were pretty much “Hooray for America.” James Loewen used twelve commonly-used history textbooks as the basis of his book Lies my Teacher Told Me, which was first published in 1995. All of these books were overly patriotic and totally glossed over numerous negative chapters in American history. Based on this, it is highly unlikely that these AP courses are using the works of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky in their syllabus.
Fisher said the Advanced Placement history class fails to teach “American exceptionalism.” The bill passed the Oklahoma House Education committee on Monday on a vote of 11-4.
I always find it funny when people act like failing to believe or in this case teach American exceptionalism is a negative thing. To the rational person, this is like complaining that the schools don’t teach Holocaust denial, racial science, or the divine right of kings. Basically this Fisher fellow is upset that the schools won’t teach kids that Santa Claus is real.
Here’s another pair of ominous excerpts:
The RNC said a new framework for the exam “reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation’s history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects.”
Under the changes proposed in Colorado “students would only be taught lessons depicting American heritage in a positive light, and effectively ban any material that could lead to dissent.”
People who follow the circus that is the Russian Duma ought to take these quotes to heart. Americans would be naive indeed to believe that the mentality of the Russian vatnik cannot be exported. Russia has a large population of people who are cynical, bitter, eager to blame others for their problems, and perpetually outraged at their inability to achieve their dreams. America has a population with the same mentality, even if it is smaller or less intense due to a higher standard of living. Setting these minor nuances aside, rest assured that there are more than enough people in the US who would happily wield the power of the government, even the federal government, in order to suppress by force of law any viewpoints which they do not like. The only difference between the US and Russia in this respect is that in America you have far more resources and freedoms at your disposal to fight those people, be it on the streets, in the school boards, in the state legislatures, and so on.
America’s vatniks, whom we should call denims perhaps, can only win if good people let them. Do not just dismiss these cranks by saying this is just “flyover country.” Today that may be true. Five to ten years down the road it could be another story as repeated victories “mainstream” these idiotic beliefs. Russia’s problem is vatnost; America’s biggest threat may be denimism.
PS- For those of you who don’t like the term denim to refer to American vatniks, rest assured I’m not married to that name. If you have a better suggestion I’d like to hear about it in the comments.