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The Texas Board of Education: America's Taliban.

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You should care -- a lot -- about what's going on in Texas. The decisions reached by the state BOE (Board of Education) concerning what should, and should not be, in the textbooks used in its public school classrooms also decide, to an extraordinary extent, what will be in the textbooks of 48 other states.

The rewriting of history and science to reflect the far-Right agendas of the board's membership are just some of the far-Right orientations the board agreed to recently. ("Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change" click here;emc=th) The board insisted that references to Margaret Sanger be included because "she promoted eugenics." Also insisted upon was language that would tout Ronald Reagan's "leadership in restoring national confidence," following, as it did on Jimmy Carter's weaknesses. Also to be included as essay assignments for Texas students, "describe the causes and key organizations and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract With America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority and the National Rifle Association." The board also required consideration the contributions of "great Americans" that included Billy Graham, Newt Gingrich, and William F. Buckley Jr., and that students were to compose essays noting the contributions of these Americans. Diminished to the maximum extent achievable were positive references to Thomas Jefferson, because of his Deist proposition there ought to be a "wall of separation between church and state;" a proposition the Texas board members cannot abide. (click here;emc=th) What the board intentionally dismissed out of hand, as role models for the state's large Hispanic population, were the historic contributions of Latino figures. (Personal note: In the past I have read Texas, by James Michener, T.R. Fehrenbach's Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans, and H.E. Bolton's Texas in the Middle-Eighteenth Century.) What the board is attempting is nothing short of historic genocide.

The last sentence of the above paragraph is the arrow to the heart of the matter. There are two ways to tell a lie. One is to tell it. The other is to deliberately not tell the truth. What Republicans/conservatives are attempting to do, and in large measure succeeding at, is the BIG LIE, getting Americans to accept it, and striving to inculcate it into the fiber of our youth as the truth. Bent don't matter none to these far-Right political proselytizers.

***

On Wednesday, March 10th, the House debated H.Con.Res. 248; Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan. Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), SECTION 1. REMOVAL OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES FROM AFGHANISTAN. Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544 (c)), Congress directs the President to remove the United states Armed forces from Afghanistan --
(1) by no later than the end of the period of 30 days beginning on the day on which this concurrent resolution is adopted; or
(2) if the President determines that it is no safe to remove the United States Armed Forces before the end of that period, by no later than December 31, 2010, or such earlier date as the President determines that the Armed forces can safely be removed.

The last speaker on the issue was Rhode Island's US Representative Patrick Kennedy. (View the proceedings at http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/id/220880 ) The Rhode Islander's excoriating diatribe included, "Finally, if anyone wants to know where cynicism is, cynicism is where there (points at the overhead gallery) are one, two press people in this gallery. (Continuing to jab furiously into the gallery.) We're talking about Eric Massa, 24/7 on the TV, and we're talking about war and peace, three billion dollars and 1,000 lives, and no press. No Press! (More arm waving and jabbing to the gallery) You want to know why the American people are ticked, they're ticked because they're not seeing their congress doing the work that they're sent here to do. It's because of the press, the press of the United States is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that's the laying of lives down in the service of our country. It's despicable: the national press corps!"

***
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Kennedy is one hundred percent correct concerning the miserable state of news coverage in the United States. Like it or not, it is a major player in the Big Lie, and the way to tell it that I mentioned above. For example, not a single word about what the Texas BOE was up to, and how it would affect most of America's youth, found an opening into the stories on any of the news networks; ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NBC . . . Just the same, however easy, however convenient it might be to blame the media for this country's astounding and tragic for a democracy level of near total ignorance, it's also not entirely true.

Each of us has a concomitant citizenship responsibility to want what may be discomfiting, what may require more than a nanosecond to digest, what may not be titillating, what may not entertain us. But, by and large, we don't want any of those things. We want simple. We want silly. We want the stories about Jay and Dave and Conan, about Tiger Woods, about some murder a thousand miles away. About anything that avoids actual thinking about what the story is actually about. "Tell me again that I'm really beautiful," the baby warthog begged its mother.

There exists no more exquisite example of competition-driven, free-market enterprise than the major televised electronic media, and no better example of solid business acumen than Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox. If folks wanted better than they were getting from Fox, or any of the others, they'd get it. The fact the vast majority of Americans cling tenaciously to Fox and its counterparts is evidence on the table they not only want exactly what they're getting, they want more of the same. The moment sufficient numbers tune into PBS is the moment they'll begin to get it.

***

I grew up in Allen Park, Michigan, next door to Dearborn, the home of Ford Motor. Like Dearborn, but about a third its population, it was an all very white suburb just a handful of miles from Tiger Stadium in Detroit. In the fall of 1951, I began Kindergarten at Lapham Elementary School and graduated in June of 1964 at Allen Park High.
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Through the entirety of these 13 years not one mention was made of the fact that, under Andrew Jackson, murderous genocide was official United States policy; the Trail of Tears that removed from the southeastern states four native peoples and force-marched them to the Oklahoma Territory. Thousands perished along the tortuous route, the military escort not even permitting burial of the children and the old who died along the way, leaving the corpses to rot and become carrion for the scavenging birds, insects and other wild mammals. Remember the mantra, "the only good Injun is a dead Injun"? I do. Every Saturday cowboys and Indians matinee at the local movie house.

However we learned about slavery, we learned of it almost as an outlined abstract construct; denuded of its genuine moral depravity and human suffering -- something akin to the sterile dissection of an earthworm or frog in a 9th or 10th grade biology class. "This class, is the tongue, the glottis, small intestine, and slavery is bad because no one should own another human being." Say, human being, being a condition the South discovered, like Columbus discovering the New World, rather late, while also conveniently ignoring altogether every preexisting truth its earlier habitation destroyed utterly every allegation it had been "discovered" by Columbus.

We also learned about the Panama Canal, but not the fact that to construct it, the US deconstructed (overthrew) an entire country, Columbia, in order to do so. Never was a question entertained, whether this country had a right to overthrow another nation's government, to secure a sought commercial and military advantage. It was the age of Manifest Destiny; our god-given right, to be interpreted as "God was on our side," . . . to do just about anything we wanted.

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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."

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