Or as Mark Twain put it, “History doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.”
Apparently Hays wants to start a mandate for “Teach the Controversy” chapter III… (Evolution Denial, Climate Change Denial, and now Historical Revisionism)
A Florida state senator plans to introduce a bill that would make Dinesh D’Souza’s docudrama, America, required viewing for most teenagers in the state, The Hollywood Reporter learned on Friday.
Republican Alan Hays said he’ll introduce in November his one-page bill that simply states that students in the 1,700 Florida public high schools and middle schools are to be shown the film unless their parents object….
…”The most dreaded disease in America today is political correctness. We need to inform our students of our whole history, and teach them how to think, not what to think,” Hays said. “Let them talk with their teachers, their peers and their parents, then draw their own conclusions. But they need both sides, and this movie shows a side they just aren’t seeing.”
Third version of the movie trailer for “America.”
You should watch the video above to get a sense of what this movie is like and what it is about. It is nothing more than a collection of simplistic apologetics for anything in America’s past that anyone might claim to be less than ideal.
Basically the premise is to interview anyone willing to espouse a very negative view of America’s past actions (the more extreme the better) and then “refute” them with “Yeah but if it wasn’t for America the Nazis would have won,” or “The USSR would have taken over the world if it wasn’t for us.”
While I admit that it is sensationalized jingoistic propaganda at its very finest (James O’Keefe should take notes from this movie if he can get over his jealousy for long enough), its relationship to historical study is somewhat nebulous. Mandating that it be shown to all Florida high school and middle school classes is just a way to force the exposure of a young and less informed captive audience to this Right-Wing propaganda. :(
(EDIT: The sad part is that with Florida’s current Republican dominated legislature this bill will probably pass easily when Hays brings it to the floor.)
Seriously? They actually teach that? If slavery was so “good” that whites “envied” the “freedom” of enslaved blacks, why were there so many abolitionists, and why the hell didn’t more whites fight for the right to become slaves instead of freeing them? Oh and racism was “caused” by the very people who fought to end slavery, not the people who fought to justify it? This is some kind of really weird bizarreo world racist stupidity. “The 5,000 Year Leap” and “The Making of America,” shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a public school history class, for any grade. Either that, or the teachers need to not use them as history textbooks and instead use them as an exercise in critical thinking skills and show their students how to spot nonsensical propaganda.
Elias Isquith has more,
Tea Party activists rally in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, June 19, 2013. (Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite)
The nonprofit Americans United for Separation of Church and State is calling out one of the oldest public charter schools in Arizona for using two books from crank and Glenn Beck favorite Cleon Skousen that promote racism and a Christian nationalist interpretation of American history, reports the Arizona Republic.
The school, Heritage Academy, is apparently using two of Skousen’s most popular books, “The 5,000 Year Leap” and “The Making of America,” in an attempt to educate its student body of the ways in which America was actually founded by hardcore Jerry Falwell-style Christian conservatives.
This is not the same thing as trying to indoctrinate children, however, claims Earl Taylor, the school’s founder and principal. “Our purpose is not to convert students to different religious views,” Taylor promised. “It is to show them that religion influenced what the Founders did.”
Worse still, some parts of the Skousen books being given to Heritage Academy’s students — and presented as textbooks, rather than historical documents — also depict American slavery in a racist and risibly sympathetic light.
Paying attention to the written output of people with opposing political views is important for several reasons. Primarily because it forces you to evaluate arguments against your own position and, where those arguments have merit, modify your views. From a liberal perspective, at least, I would also argue that it’s important because the people holding those views are still people, and worthy of being taken seriously as people if not as debaters.
A further reason for paying attention to written output in particular is that, especially in the era of the internet, it becomes part of the “knowledge framework” which provides a backdrop for people of that political bent, within which their ideas continue to evolve. And so it is worth examining two recent RedState articles dealing with the current IRS affair and relating it to the Watergate scandal.
Both these articles make much of Nixon’s “18 missing minutes” of tape (though, revealingly, they actually refer to “Obama’s 18 missing minutes of tape”). The contention is that the apparently unrecoverable emails in the IRS affair constitute the same kind of evidence of cover-up as in the Watergate case, where 18 minutes were found to have been erased from Nixon’s White House audio recording system.
The validity of the comparison, and the alleged different level of interest shown in the two instances of missing data by the press, is somewhat interesting in its own right, but the subtle key to these articles is the way in which they attempt to recast Nixon’s threatened impeachment and resignation as being about these missing minutes.
In fact, and as neither article mentions, Nixon was obviously implicated in the Watergate cover-up by existing audio from the tapes, including extracts which prompted the original use (?) of the term “smoking gun”, and which decimated his political support in congress, making impeachment apparently inevitable. The missing audio was certainly unhelpful to him, but it’s not implausible that if the remainder of the audio had revealed nothing of interest, Nixon might have remained in office. Both RedState articles, however, make it seem as if Nixon was undone by an allegation of having destroyed evidence, which is not really the case.
This is obviously very important in the context of contemporary Republican efforts to insist that lack of positive evidence is in fact evidence of malfeasance (as in the insistence on seeing Obama’s “real” birth certificate, unsurprisingly brought up in the comments to the RedState articles). As the first article puts it:
If the current President were a Republican, the media would have already drawn an inescapable conclusion based on this evidence alone: a cover up is occurring here and it’s the media’s job to leave no stone unturned until the President can prove his lack of involvement in it.
In fact, Nixon’s involvement in Watergate was definitively proven by the tapes, and the “18 missing minutes” became an interesting footnote. However, the quote above is a startlingly accurate representation of current Republican operatives’ attempts to find evidence in the absence of evidence itself, and to justify such an approach in an appeal to history, appropriately re-written.
On August 26, 2013, I hammered away at the gut-juiced log podium at MAD imploring the hundreds gathered to take note of the heritage of their food. I wanted them to consider their food’s stories and what those stories meant for the people who brought those foods into history. I also wanted them to consider what those stories meant for their descendants and those from other backgrounds who enjoyed the foods and benefited from their import.
One of the things I talked about was the connection between rice in the colonial and antebellum South and the people who were brought to grow it. Limited to a stretch of land on the Southeastern coast of the United States, rice cultivation in the dark malarial swamps was the most dangerous agricultural labor practiced in what would become the United States. It has been said that the human power needed to change those swamps into rice fields can be likened to the power needed to make the pyramids of Giza. Once those fields were created, however, they also gave rise to the wealthiest landed aristocracy in early North America; two successful rice crops made you the equivalent of a millionaire.
On August 26, 2013 I made my plea, and on September 7, I found out just how personal this plea really was.
Gina Paige, the head of a genetics testing company, arrived just before the meal to present me with a gift. Six weeks prior to Stagville, at a synagogue near my home, a rabbi bestowed a blessing on me before I swabbed my cheeks and placed them in plastic bags to be sent to a testing facility. Now I was about to meet a woman whose existence I hadn’t predicted, and without whom I would not exist. I would meet her in the shadow of slave cabins, around 150 years after the end of the American Civil War, about fifty years after the Civil Rights movement, in front of an audience of every color, ethnic group, religion, and lack thereof — gay, straight, and otherwise — in a scene neither slavery nor segregation dreamed imaginable. I wanted to learn the root of my food heritage, and here it was.
Read the whole, rich story. Watch the videos. Then you’ll probably need lunch.
Jason Shankel talks about the most recent episode of the new Cosmos and makes an important point. Not only are creationists going to hate Cosmos now, but so will climate change deniers, and Ayn Rand style libertarians.
This week’s episode of Cosmos tackles the Rock of Ages, the age of rocks and getting the lead out of our commitment to the environment. The episode takes the form of a fable, a cautionary tale about the dangers of letting any institution, but most especially science, fall into the clutches of the Argument From Authority and the ulterior motives of self-declared experts.
After a brief recap of the formation of the solar system and the accretion of our own world, Tyson describes Bishop Ussher’s famous attempt to provide a precise, begat-based estimation of the age of the world. Ussher’s Biblical arithmetic, which places the date and time of creation at Saturday, Oct 22nd, 4004 BC at 6:00 PM (presumably Eden Standard Time) stood for years as the authoritative age of creation until scientists began examining the geological layers of the Earth.
But as the layers of stone replaced the sequence of begats, we found that calculating the precise age of the Earth is beyond the scope of the geological record. Layers that normally take centuries to form can form in an instant during a catastrophic flood. And the active geology of the Earth means that the lowest accessible layers of the geological record are still far younger than the Earth itself.
Its really sad when a gesture like this causes outrage.
By William Booth, Published: April 12
JERUSALEM — Professor Mohammed S. Dajani took 27 Palestinian college students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland a few weeks ago as part of a project designed to teach empathy and tolerance. Upon his return, his university disowned the trip, his fellow Palestinians branded him a traitor and friends advised a quick vacation abroad.
Dajani said he expected criticism. “I believe a trip like this, for an organized group of Palestinian youth going to visit Auschwitz, is not only rare, but a first,” he said. “I thought there would be some complaints, then it would be forgotten.”
But the trip was explosive news to some, perhaps more so because it took place as U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians were in danger of collapse, and emotion surrounding the decades-old conflict is high.
Controversy was also heightened by rumors — untrue — that the trip was paid for by Jewish organizations. It was paid for by the German government.
There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.
Our long national nightmare if finally over:
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Lower court stands. Good news for gay couples who deserve fair treatment in public accommodations; bad news for those discriminatory photographers who are not good enough actors to fake being all booked up whenever a same-sex couple makes a service request.
That is it - there is nowhere else the bigots can take this case. It is over. Elaine has not only destroyed her business future by insisting discrimination and bigotry are valid business practices, she and her husband will go down as homophobic bigots who are socially, and now legally, on the wrong side of history.
The truth remains - bigotry does not win when weighed against the law of these here United States, the right would do well to take notice before they continue to destroy these ‘small business’
David Neiwert over at Hate Watch reports on a disturbing new trend among some supporters of drug legalization. This is unusual becouse its one of those stories that kind of talks about both the radical right and the radical left. I associate drug legalization with the left, mostly, however, for the most part this story focuses on the radical right.
Can members of juries really stand in judgment of the laws they are sworn to apply? Can jurors really choose to acquit someone of a crime because they believe a law is unjust?
This concept - known as “jury nullification” - has been promoted in previous decades by far-right extremists who sought to “nullify” a variety of federal laws by encouraging jurors not to enforce them. The cases involved civil rights laws, tax statutes and criminal acts by white perpetrators aagainst black victims. It was avidly promoted in the 1990s by members of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, particularly so-called “Freemen” in Montana who promoted the sovereign citizen ideology.
More recently, it has popped up in the context of the debate over marijuana legalization. It was signaled by a 2011 New York Times op-ed that advocated nullification in court battles over marijuana arrests, which disproportionately affect young black men.