I don’t have enough time, enough space, or enough patience to list all of the hypocrites and their actions over the past few days – so let’s start with a few.
Parents in one Texas school district are demanding that one commonly-used history book be banned because they say that the mention of the word “militia” in a sentence about the “Second Amendment” is indoctrinating children to believe they don’t have a right to own firearms.
Guyer High School junior Brie Getts told KTVT that she was doing her homework with the bookU.S. History: Preparing for Advanced Placement Exams when she noticed something “weird” with the lesson about the Bill of Rights on page 102.
“It says, ‘The people have a right to keep and bear arms in a state militia,’” she explained. “It seems to be worded weird.”
Brie brought the 734-page school book to the attention of her father, Sean Getts.
“It’s incorrect because it implies that the Second Amendment is restricted to the state militia,” he insisted.
After Sean Getts posted a photo of the paragraph on Facebook, the school began receiving calls from concerned parents.
“I didn’t want to jump to conclusions and say, ‘Oh, they’re trying to indoctrinate our children,’ but kind of the more I thought about it, it needs a lot more scrutiny,” he pointed out.
The actual text of the Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” I’d say their description of it was a literal definition. But, as we all know, people who are against any gun regulations tend to ignore the first four words of the Second Amendment (bolded above for your convenience).
But none of those same parents who object to that one sentence in a 734- page book have been outraged that the Texas State Board of Education succeeded in rewriting history in their textbooks – in over 100 instances – giving their new “facts” a “clear conservative agenda.”
Those textbooks are used not only in Texas, but kids in more sensible states are getting these rewrites of history too.
As the New York Review of Books reports,
No matter where you live, if your children go to public schools, the textbooks they use were very possibly written under Texas influence. If they graduated with a reflexive suspicion of the concept of separation of church and state and an unexpected interest in the contributions of the National Rifle Association to American history, you know who to blame….
…the state board adopted a rule in 1974 that textbooks mentioning the theory of evolution “should identify it as only one of several explanations of the origins of humankind” and that those treating the subject extensively “shall be edited, if necessary, to clarify that the treatment is theoretical rather than factually verifiable.” …
The final product the board came up with called for a curriculum that would make sure that students studying economic issues of the late nineteenth century would not forget “the cattle industry boom” and that when they turned to social issues like labor, growth of the cities, and problems of immigrants they also take time to dwell on “the philanthropy of industrialists.” When it came to the Middle Ages, the board appeared to be down on any mention of the Crusades, an enterprise that tends to reflect badly on the Christian side of Christian–Islamic conflict. And when they got to the cold war era, the board wanted to be sure students would be able to “explain how Arab rejection of the State of Israel has led to ongoing conflict.” Later, they were supposed to study “Islamic fundamentalism and the subsequent use of terrorism by some of its adherents.” And that appeared to be pretty much all young people in Texas were going to be required to know about Arab nations and the world’s second-largest religion.
For the most part, however, the board seemed determined just to sprinkle stuff its members liked hither and yon, and eliminate words they found objectionable in favor of more appealing ones. Reading through the deletions and additions, it becomes clear that a majority of board members hated the word “democratic,” for which they consistently substituted “constitutional republic.” They also really disliked “capitalism” (see rather: “free enterprise system”) and “natural law” (“laws of nature and nature’s God”).
Study of the first part of the twentieth century should include not only the Spanish-American War and Theodore Roosevelt but also Sanford B. Dole, a Hawaiian lawyer and son of missionaries. When teachers get to Clarence Darrow, Henry Ford, and Charles Lindbergh, they’d also better not forget Glenn Curtiss, who broke early motorcycle speed records. For the modern era, they needed to study “the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s,” including Equal Rights Amendment opponent Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association.
And as Bill Moyers reports, the Texas textbook brigade didn’t care for Thomas Jefferson at all.
Thomas Jefferson, the Founding Father considered by many to be the author of the Declaration of Independence, is also credited with coining the phrase “separation of church and state.” According to The New York Times, that coinage didn’t make him very popular with the conservative members of the board. They removed Jefferson from a list of great Enlightenment philosophers — including John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Voltaire, Charles de Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau — who inspired political revolutions from the 1700s to today. They also removed the word “Enlightenment” and added Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin. After much criticism, they added Jefferson back, but left out “Enlightenment” resulting in a standard very different from the original.
Another example of the hypocrisy that’s so infuriating comes from the mouth of Chuck Toad Todd, Political Director at NBC News! who, just yesterday, claimed that it isn’t the media’s responsibility to point out the Republican’s lies about Obamacare! Seriously.
Sorry Chuck, but you’re dead wrong. It is most definitely the job of journalists to point out when our elected officials are lying to us, what the lies are, and what the facts are. I don’t argue that the Obama administration did a lousy job of informing the country about the Affordable Care Act, but these so-called “journalists” obviously don’t understand their job responsibilities.
Dear Deborah Turness, President of NBC News:
I know you’re new to NBC News and there’s a lot to adjust to, especially as a foreigner. But I had to write to you as a regular viewer, a politically- and journalistically-engaged person and as an American, deeply concerned by the dumbing down and willful ignorance of the country I love.
I also know that a lot of your employees read this site regularly, so I’m hoping that you’ll actually be informed about this open letter to you. Hell, I know they steal video clips and tips from us; it’s really the least they could do to bring our concerns to you. Maybe they could pass it on to Phil Griffin of MSNBC as well.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but you have really failed in the most basic of job descriptions for your news department staff and you need to step it up and make sure that they understand what their job entails.
ave him actually refuse to be responsible to provide facts to your viewership? Sure, maybe Chuck Todd didn’t graduate from journalism school (or any university–honorary degrees don’t count, Deb), so maybe he can be excused from knowing what a news department employee does. But ultimately, you’re his boss, and you have clearly failed him (and the consumers of NBC News) by not providing him with a clear and unambiguous job description.
It’s not hard. A journalist informs his/her readership of facts. When non-facts are provided for partisan purposes, it is not “doing the job of the White House to sell” a government program to say that these are LIES. That’s reporting. That’s journalism. Someone who just repeats what’s said to him without placing it in context is called a stenographer. And that is beyond the poor little pea brain of your political director to understand.
Actually, that’s not fair. It’s not only Chuck Todd who can’t grasp that simple concept. David Gregory doesn’t, either. Which points, once again, to a systemic issue that your new stewardship of NBC News must address.
Now you may pooh-pooh that as hyperbole, but let me make this perfectly clear: this particular case that Chuck Todd didn’t think was his job to provide factual and contextual information is quite literally a matter of life and death, and studies have shown that SEVENTY PERCENT of Americans don’t understand what Obamacare actually does or how it impacts them. Now Chuck thinks that it’s the White House’s job to “sell” the program, but make no mistake, if Chuck Todd and all his other colleagues at NBC News actually fact-checked all the lies that Republicans tell about Obamacare, that number would be much, much lower. So you must accept your culpability in the ignorance of the country. If your job is to provide information, by any metric, this shows that news organizations have failed the American people massively.
The rest of the letter is just as good.
There’s more… just listen to today’s show (the player at the top of the post is a good way to listen) for some of them.
And BradBlog’s Brad Friedman awoke early today to help me close out the week with a discussion about the role of journalists (Chuck Todd, be damned), and about California’s ludicrous new e-voting bill SB 360 – which you’ll have to let Brad explain to you by reading his post about it here. And, oh yeah, Tom Delay’s conviction was overturned today. And Don Siegelman still sits in a federal prison. Unbelievable.