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Education Reporter

Ranking High School History Textbooks 
The Mel Gablers Educational Research Analysts recently reviewed U.S. History textbooks adopted by the state of Texas, including high school texts. They found that of the four publishers submitting new textbooks, three "had more or less the same old pro-big government, anti-free market, political correctness problems."

"Liberals cry 'censorship' when political correctness loses its monopoly in textbooks," say the Gablers. Following are three examples of political correctness found in other history textbooks and the censored historical facts:

1) Sand Creek Massacre, Colorado 1864 - The politically-correct view: After a bout of frontier warfare, Cheyenne chief Black Kettle sought peace. The U.S. Army promised him protection and told him to camp with his Indians at Sand Creek, pending negotiations. As Black Kettle waved an American flag and a white flag, about 700 soldiers attacked this camp, killing several hundred Indian men, women, and children.

However, frontiersmen reported that:

  • Indian behavior was seasonal. They "surrendered" in the fall (Sand Creek occurred in November), when grass for their ponies died. They returned to the warpath in the spring when the grass grew.
  • Black Kettle was friendly. His warriors were not, and they had not received a pledge of truce.
  • The commanding officer reported after the encounter that " . . . scalps of white men, women and children . . . were taken from the belts of dead warriors on the battlefield."

2) The Vietnam War - The propaganda:

  • Gentle, avuncular Ho Chi Minh originally "admired" the U.S. and was "disappointed" it did not support his "nationalist movement for Vietnamese independence."
  • South Vietnam's pro-U.S. president Ngo Dinh Diem was "oppressive" and "corrupt." With U.S. support, he cancelled a 1956 Vietnam-wide election because he feared a loss to the more popular Ho Chi Minh.
  • In 1968, American soldiers massacred 200+ noncombatants at My Lai, South Vietnam. Historical facts, however, tell a different story:
  • North Vietnamese communism under Ho Chi Minh was Stalinist and Maoist in practice.
  • Ho came to power in 1945 on a wave of communist terror where thousands of his political foes died, including non-communist nationalist leaders.
  • More bloody than Diem's rule in the south was the 1951-56 purge by communists in the north that killed 50,000.
  • Diem cancelled the 1956 Vietnam-wide election because Ho opposed a free vote (with international observers) in the north.
  • The communist massacre of about 3,000 civilians at Hue in 1968 dwarfed the killing of 200+ civilians by U.S. soldiers at My Lai that same year.

3) Civil War Reconstruction - The politically correct view: Southern white racism caused all the ills of Radical Reconstruction. Carpetbag state government corruption was just part of Gilded Age political culture.

In fact, Radical Reconstruction involved many Constitutional conflicts unrelated to race, such as:

  • Taxation without representation.
  • A standing army in peactime without consent- ex-Confederate states were not represented in Congress and the U.S. Army occupied the south.
  • Trials without juries: Peacetime military tribunals during Radical Reconstruction lacked juries.

The Gablers report, however, that one new high school history textbook "broke ranks to become a benchmark." The American Republic Since 1877, published by Glencoe, 2003, is superior in scholarship to other high school history texts the Gablers have reviewed over the past 40 years. This book features:

  • Inclusion of pro-free enterprise perspectives
  • Rightly defines strict and loose construction of the Constitution, and properly discriminates between them.
  • Distinguishes states' rights from state sovereignty, and Constitutional supremacy from federal supremacy.
  • Occasionally notes Jeffersonian-Jacksonian views of original intent on major Constitutional issues.
  • Generally avoids partisanship on controversial topics in economic history from 1929-1939.

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