Islamophobia and Text Books in Texas
A history book used in Texas until 2003 mentions Islam more than Christianity. Much outrage ensues.
Via the BBC: Texas weighs bid to rid schools of ‘pro-Islam’ books
The measure, on which the Texas Board of Education will vote on Friday in the state capital of Austin, is drafted by Randy Rives, a businessman and former school official in the Texas city of Odessa.
Supporters say the resolution is needed to warn textbook publishers not to print “anti-Christian” books if they want to sell them to Texas schools.
“It’s the pro-Islamic, anti-Christian teachings in these books, that is what we are concerned about,” Mr Rives told the BBC.
“We’re teaching double the beliefs and specifics about another religion than we are about Christianity, which is the foundation of our country.”
Among several complaints, the resolution says that a textbook used until 2003 used pejorative language to describe the crusaders while “euphemising Muslim conquest of Christian lands as ‘migrations'”.
It also says a book approved for use in Texas schools until 2003 devoted 159 lines of text to Islam and only 82 to Christianity, and recounted crusaders’ massacres of European Jews while ignoring a 15th Century massacre of Baghdad Muslims by the Muslim conqueror Tamerlane.
According to a write-up in the DMN (Resolution against pro-Islamic textbooks goes before Texas Board of Education today):
Members of the board’s social conservative bloc asked for the resolution after an unsuccessful candidate for a board seat called on the panel to head off any bias against Christians in new social studies books. Some contend that “Middle Easterners” are increasingly buying into companies that publish textbooks.
If a phobia is an irrational fear of something, I don’t know how else to characterize all of this save as Islamophobia. The notion that Middle Easterners are buying up textbook companies so that they can insert “pro-Islamic” language into history texts whilst dissing Christianity is absurd on its face.
Further, the notion that Texas schoolchildren need history texts as conduits for information on Christianity is likewise absurd (and I say that as a ex-pat Texan and a member of the “weekly church attender” demographic).
No doubt any history book of any kind can be criticized for omissions since any given book can only contain, by definition, a finite amount of information. Likewise words choices and the like can always be pick apart. I will even stipulate that the quality of a given text may not be all that it could be.
However, this kind of thing always makes me wonder why some people are so insecure that they seem to believe that our way of life is so fragile that something like this can threaten us in some way (or that it matters at all)–especially since one of the books isn’t even being used any longer. Do they think that because a certain adjective was used or because a certain event was ignored that extreme versions of Sharia will soon take over the Lone Star State? Do they think that an inadequate number of lines devoted to Christianity will lead to mass renunciations of the faith? What motivates people to take an out of use textbook and count the lines in which Islam is mentioned for that matter?
I also find it sad and inappropriate when discussions like this hinge far more on politics than they do about knowledge, expertise, or education. Of course, by the same token I am more than aware that knowledge and education are hardly divorced from politics.
More from the DNM: Texas education board to consider rule on Islam’s portrayal in textbooks.