The Texas Board of Education has voted to include in the state’s history textbooks facts more favorable to conservatives. Needless to say, this has provoked condemnations from the national Main Stream Media. That’s because any challenge to the Left’s post-1960s dominion over the past is going to arouse real passion.
OK, I know it’s not clear how many students actually read their history textbooks. But the Texans are showing more enterprise than is common among conservatives. These have fecklessly permitted their ideological enemies to define what gets called history.
Theoretically, history is about learning how the world works so you don't repeat old mistakes. What most people want to know, however, is: Who does society laud? Who is respectable and who is not? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? ...
Why have the Sixties People proven so enduring in molding young people’s minds? My theory: The Sixties mindset—aggrieved, resentful, and unrealistic—is perfectly attuned to appeal permanently to the worst instincts of adolescents.
And yet, young people do have a finer side—their hunger for heroes—that history books once tried to fulfill rather than exploit. For example, I was galvanized in 1975 when I read Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison’s tribute in his Oxford History of the American People to Orville and Wilbur Wright:
"Few things in our history are more admirable than the skill, the pluck, the quiet self-confidence, the alertness to reject fixed ideas and to work out new ones, and the absence of pose and publicity, with which these Wright brothers made the dream of ages—man’s conquest of the air—come true."
But the Wright brothers aren’t the kind of heroes we like anymore. In our Age of Oprah, rather than Heroes of Accomplishment, we are addicted to Heroes of Suffering. ...
This Heroes of Suffering fetish is exacerbated in modern history textbooks by the “diversity” imperative.
Take, for example, one US history textbook widely used in high school Advanced Placement courses and in college courses: Nation of Nations: A Narrative History of the American Republic (McGraw-Hill, Fourth Edition). ...
The need to include a huge amount of material celebrating each politically organized diversity group has bloated the textbook to 1277 oversized pages. It costs $108.78 on Amazon, and weighs in at a vertebrae-compressing 5.4 pounds. ...
Celebrating diversity just takes a lot of space, so there isn’t room in all 1277 pages to mention…the Wright brothers. ...
This kind of feminized, multiculturalized social history is boring to young people—especially to boys.
... Of course, leaving out so many annoying white male Heroes of Accomplishment from the textbook doesn’t mean that the historians have managed to dig up comparable diverse Heroes of Accomplishment.
Instead, the space mostly gets filled with Heroes of Suffering.
And who made them suffer?
You get one guess.
At one point, I went looking in this textbook’s index for the Civil War hero, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, colonel of the XXth Maine Volunteers. By repelling repeated assaults on the crucial Little Round Top hill on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Chamberlain may have saved the Union. (He’s played by Jeff Daniels in Ron Maxwell’s movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals.)
I suspect teenage boys might find him, you know, interesting. Maybe?
Well, needless to say, "Chamberlain, Joshua" isn’t in the Nation of Nations’ index. When looking for him, I did find, however:Chanax, Juan, 1096—1098, 1103, 1124, 1125
Who, exactly, is Chanax and why does he appear on six pages when Chamberlain can’t be squeezed in anywhere?
It turns out Chanax is an illegal immigrant from Guatemala who works in a supermarket in Houston. This hero’s accomplishment is that he brought in 1,000 other illegal aliens from his home village.
The thinking, apparently: featuring an illegal alien so disproportionately will boost the self-esteem of the illegal alien students reading the book—which will then raise their test scores!
But how many are going to read all the way to p. 1096? And how many won’t find it patronizing and depressing that the biggest hero these industrious historians could dig up for their edification and emulation was Chanax?
But the truth is that the Left pays no real attention to illegal immigrants. Their value is primarily in their colossal numbers—e.g., the 1000 neighbors recruited by Chanax—making them the notional Reserve Army of the Left, justifying whatever changes in America life more elite members of the Left want.
Want a sinecure as a diversity consultant for a textbook company? Nominate yourself as the ethnic representative of Juan Chanax and friends.
They won’t notice.
Maybe you just don’t much like American history: all those Wrights and Chamberlains accomplishing great things get on your nerves. Then rewrite it, in the name of Juan Chanax and company!
It’s not like Juan and his pals down at the supermarket are paying close attention or have a strong, informed opinion on what should go into American history textbooks. You can get away with anything by claiming to be on their side, the side of goodness and the future—the winning side.
Read the whole thing here.