|NUMBER 297||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||OCTOBER 2010|
|Texas Rejects Islamic Bias in Textbooks|
The Texas State Board of Education again attracted national attention last month when it adopted a resolution that warns publishers against printing textbooks infused with anti-Christian, pro-Islamic bias — or risk being snubbed by the largest textbook buyer in the nation. The resolution was approved 7-6 by the social conservatives on the board, who cautioned against a creeping Middle Eastern influence on American textbook publishers.
The resolution declares that "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation, and false editorial stereotypes still roil some social studies textbooks nationwide." Pages of footnotes document specific offenses including "patterns of pejoratives toward Christians and superlatives toward Muslims, calling Crusaders aggressors, 'violent attackers,' or 'invaders' while euphemizing Muslim conquest of Christian lands as 'migrations' by 'empire builders.'
Other complaints cited in the resolution include disproportionate coverage of Islamic beliefs, practices and holy writings, with generally twice as many text lines devoted to Islam than to Christianity and other world religions. Additionally, one book claimes Islam "brought untold wealth to thousands and a better life to millions," while "because of [European Christian] religious zeal . . . many people died and many civilizations were destroyed." The same book contrasted "the Muslim concern for cleanliness" with Swedes in Russia who were "the filthiest of God's creatures." The resolution also expressed concern about "sanitized definitions of 'jihad'" that omit the religious intolerance and violence toward non-Muslims espoused by Muslim terrorists worldwide.
Critics said the Texas resolution was politically motivated and noted that the textbooks referred to are no longer used in Texas, as they were replaced in 2003. Board member Don McLeroy explained that board rules prohibit resolutions on textbooks currently in use. Though the written resolution could not reference current textbooks, pre-vote discussion about current textbooks was permitted. Parents and at least one board member provided examples from history books their children are currently using to illustrate continuing bias.
Opponents testifying before the vote protested that none of the 15 board members had asked independent scholars to review claims of bias, particularly with regard to mentions of the Crusades. Board member Cynthia Dunbar responded by providing a long list of credentialed professors and historians who affirm that the Crusades were an attempt to stop the rapid and violent spread of Islam. Additionally, a 2008 American Textbook Council report concluded that U.S. textbooks generally present a view of Islam "that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security." (Education Week, 9-24-10; foxnews.com, 9-23-10)