Rejecting the Unique American Culture

C. Bradley Thompson, chairman of the Department of History and Political Science at Ashland University in Ohio, attended the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, the largest organization of academic historians in America. Thompson said that what he saw and heard shocked him. The ideas expressed at this conference, he noted, were "utterly subversive of American culture and values" and "will eventually make [their] way into your child's classroom." He said there were over 200 panels, but not one of them covered such subjects as the American Revolution, the Civil War, or the two World Wars. What was covered to the saturation point were topics "ranging from the banal to the bizarre and perverse." Thompson provided these examples: "Meditations on a Coffee Pot: Visual Culture and Spanish America, 1520-1820," "The Joys of Cooking: Ideologies of Housework in Early Modern England," and "Body, Body, Burning Bright: Cremation in Victorian America."

As if all that weren't disturbing enough, Thompson related that sex was the dominant theme throughout. "Historians at America's best universities," he lamented, "are obsessed with it." The titles of certain papers and discussion topics make the point. Consider these: "Strong Hard Filth and The Aroma of Washington Square: Art, Homosexual Life, and Postal Service Censorship in the Ulysses Obscenity Trial of 1921;" "Solitary Self/Solitary Sex;" "Constructing Masculinity: Homosexual Sodomy, Ethnicity, and the Politics of Penetrative Manhood in Early Modern Spain."

But the historians' sexual obsession, according to Thompson, is "the least of their vices." Academic history, said Thompson, is "driven by a hatred of America and its ideals." Routinely, he said, teachers tell their students that the colonists engaged in genocide when settling America and that the founding fathers, far from being admirable and learned gentlemen, were "racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, Eurocentric bigots." Further, America's expansion westward was capitalist pillage."

Regrettably, Thompson's words ring true. But even when America and its culture and values are not disparaged, its distinguishing qualities are certainly not championed. Kay Hymowitz describes it this way: "That a professional association of teachers [the NCSS] would do nothing to encourage kids to think of themselves as Americans with a common history and common ideals will surprise no seasoned observer of the nation's schools. Like many in the education establishment, the NCSS regards promoting an American civic identity, particularly in minority children, as 'ethnocentric,' an example of an 'assimilationist ideology."'

Unfortunately, Hymowitz is correct. The NCSS's "Curriculum Guidelines for Multicultural Education"-for the consumption and guidance of social studies teachers throughout America-are rife with admonitions to promote multiculturalism and de-emphasize our distinctly American culture, which, the guidelines emphasize, has no more value than any other culture. Guideline 19 shows how the NCSS pushes these other cultures. "Schools should provide opportunities to participate in the aesthetic experiences of various ethnic and cultural groups ... The immersion of students in multiethnic experiences is an effective means for developing understanding of both self and others."

The multicultural flavor of these guidelines is taking hold in many of our public schools around the nation. The Washington Times Weekly reported that an examination of seven widely used world history textbooks revealed that public school classrooms "sanitize the problems of Islam" in comparison to their treatment of Western civilization. The study was conducted by the American Textbook Council, which speculated that the special treatment of Islam might be the result of lobbying by the Council on Islamic Education. The report said the books make no effort to hide the warts and blemishes in Western history, such as slavery, the delay of women's suffrage, and others. But, it said, "subjects such as jihad and the advocacy of violence among militant Islamists to attain worldly ends, the imposition of [Shariah] law, the record of Muslim enslavement, and the brutal subjection of women are glossed over."

One such textbook, Across the Centuries, was accompanied by "Islam simulation materials" in California schools, where the state legislature mandated three weeks of Islam studies for seventh grade students as part of a statewide curriculum. This textbook, like so many others, presents a biased view in favor of Islam and against Christianity. Conspicuously omitted from the book is any mention of the history of Islamic conquest-the Moors' invasion, the Battle of Tours, and the execution of Jews in Quarayza.

With the book's simulation materials, students weren't just required to learn about the religion; they were forced to pretend they were Muslims, praying in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful, and to chant "praise to Allah, Lord of Creation." They were required to take Muslim names, simulate their own jihad (a holy war against Islam's enemies) through a dice game, and plan a pilgrimage to Mecca. At Byron/Excelsior Public School, a middle school in the Oakland area-where students, incidentally, rank very poorly in English comprehension-students were taught to write Islamic sayings in the Arabic language. Teachers further encouraged students to dress in Muslim garb and to use Muslim phrases such as "Allah Akbar," meaning "God is great." They even had to memorize Islamic prayers, fulfill the Five Pillars of the faith, and engage in lunchtime fasts during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, all of which counted toward their grade in the class. Teachers told students that during this course in Islam "you and your classmates will become Muslims.'

On behalf of parents and four students, the Thomas More Law Center filed suit against the Byron/Excelsior school. Chief Counsel Richard Thompson explained, "Although it is constitutional for public schools to have an instructional program about comparative religion or teach about religion and utilize religious books such as the Bible in courses about our history and culture, the Byron Union School District crossed way over the line when it coerced impressionable twelve year olds to engage in particular religious rituals and worship, simulated or not." On a particular note of irony, the Thomas More Center filed this suit the very week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals outlawed the Pledge of Allegiance in the same state.

Jay Sekulow and Gene Kapp of the American Center for Law and Justice interviewed Elizabeth Lemings, the mother of one of the students, on their radio program. Lemings teaches in the Byron school district herself. Her comments make it clear that students were required to engage in the practice of the Islamic faith-an actual worship experience-in a way that had it involved the Christian faith, the ACLU would have combusted with outrage. Lemings explained that her son had to wear his Muslim name, "Ishmael," on a nametag around his neck. "They were graded on fulfilling the Five Pillars of faith: There was a 'caravan log' that they had to keep as they did their 'pilgrimage: They also had a 'faith grade,' a 'prayer grade,' an'alms-giving grade,' and a'fasting grade' along with the 'pilgrimage grade. "

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