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Education Reporter

Textbooks Promote Islamist Agenda
Americans are well aware of the threat of violent terrorist attacks, but few know the extent to which Islamists have used less direct methods to spread their dangerous pro-Sharia agenda. Even fewer Americans realize that Islamists have been openly vocal about their plans to engage in a "stealth jihad" effort to impose Sharia on the United States.

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Your child's textbooks have not gone untouched in this global campaign to undermine democracy and replace it with Islamic law. A new report from ACT for America, a non-profit organization dedicated to educating people about radical Islam, shows the results of the organization's analysis of several dozen popular 6th- through 12th-grade textbooks used in U.S. public schools. The portrayals of Islam and Islamic history in these textbooks are enormously misleading, and often directly contradictory to established historical opinion. Your child's textbooks have been systematically rewritten to include lies, half-truths, and misleading narratives about Islam that amount to an astonishing volume of historical revision.

The funding for these revisions comes largely from Saudi Arabia, where Arab petro-dollars have frequently been granted to pro-Islamist efforts. ACT for America explains:

Islamist revisionism in U.S. textbooks can be traced back to Saudi money and it is not a new phenomenon. Late in 1974, a state-of-the-art, well-funded Saudi-financed plan was undertaken by Arab states to seize hold of American public opinion and increase their influence over U.S. foreign policy. A central aspect of this plan was a rewrite of 20th century Middle Eastern history with the specific intent of altering American public opinion and policies pertaining to Israel. By the early 1990s, this effort to rewrite history was working its way backward in time to the 7th century and the founding of Islam. The reason for this was that revisionists realized that the imperialistic, violent and anti-Semitic history of Islam would undermine the narrative that Israel and the Jews have been the aggressors in the Middle East and Arab Muslims have been the victims.

ACT for America's report examines the portrayal of Islam in 38 6th- through 12th-grade textbooks that date from 1999-2011. A quick look at a few textbook indexes shows a growing disparity in the coverage of Islam as compared with other world religions. Discussions of Islam have taken up more and more space in popular textbooks since the mid-1990s, while coverage of Judaism and Christianity has simultaneously decreased. In 2011, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that American 12th graders score lower in History than in any other subject, including science, math, and economics. This makes it all the more important for errors and revisionism to be eliminated from the history students do learn - and it makes ACT for America's report both timely and valuable.

ACT for America found repeated problems in the teaching of the following subjects: Islamism, the Crusades, the Holocaust, the Arab-Israeli conflict, terrorism, and the 9/11 attacks. ACT contends that errors in these subjects are "substantive, significant and often repetitive." Textbook descriptions of the 9/11 attacks are particularly indicative of the kind of systematic revisionism detailed in the report. Here's just one example: "On September 11, 2001, the United States was the target of a horrible act of terrorism, or violence to further a cause. . . . The United States soon found out that the 9/11 terrorists had links to the Taliban government of Afghanistan. The Taliban had allowed the terrorists to plan and train for the 9/11 attacks in Afghanistan. The United States demanded that the terrorist leaders be arrested, but the Taliban refused. Because of this, the United States and allies overthrew the Taliban government in late 2001." Harcourt, Horizons, 2005, p.656

There is no mention that the perpetrators of this attack were Muslims engaged in Islamic jihad. This is a critical omission that is common in the textbooks reviewed in this report. The statement that the 9/11 attack was carried out to "further a cause" is left undefined. There is no mention that the "cause" was Islamic Jihad. This omission may lead students to believe that the attack was a noble or idealistic act. Students must understand that 9/11 was perpetrated in the cause of Islamic Jihad to hurt the "Great Satan," as America is called by many in the Muslim world.

The ACT report details other common textbook problems, including:

  1. The doctrine of jihad is omitted, incorrectly defined, inaccurately described, or understated.
  2. Faulty description of women's rights under Islam: The oppressive and discriminatory nature of Sharia law with respect to women is omitted, mischaracterized, or understated.
  3. Omission or minimization of the Islamic slave trade, in sharp contrast with what is typically an extensive and appropriately critical examination of the Atlantic slave trade operated by Europeans.
  4. Aggrandizement and elevation of Muhammad's character that is contradicted by accepted historical facts.
  5. Omission or minimization of Muslim conquest and imperialism, in sharp contrast with what is typically an extensive and appropriately critical examination of European and other imperialism.
  6. False claim of Islam's historical tolerance of Jews and Christians.
  7. Misrepresentation of Sharia Law in such areas as its applicability to non-Muslims and the separation of Church and State.
  8. False presentation of the Crusades as the cause of the animosity between Christianity and Islam.
  9. Faulty historical narrative of the Crusades. Muslims in the Holy Land are commonly depicted as innocent victims of unprovoked aggression who were defending "their" lands against Christian invaders, rather than what is historically accurate: (1) that Muslims invaded and conquered the Holy Land centuries prior to the Crusades; (2) that Christians and Jews were victims of Muslim conquest and aggression centuries prior to the launching of the Crusades; and (3) that the Crusades were launched to wrest back control of the Holy Land from the Muslim invaders and conquerors.
  10. Chronological revisionism of the historical development of Judaism, Christianity and Islam which incorrectly portrays Islam as preceding Judaism and Christianity and the Muslims/Arabs as the indigenous people in the Holy Land, resulting in the delegitizimation of Israel.
  11. Treatment of Islamism as though it has no origins within classical Islam and Islam's Holy Books.
  12. Islamist Holocaust revisionism that attributes the creation of Israel to world guilt over the Holocaust and incorrectly maintains that Arabs were forced to give up land for the survivors of the Holocaust.
  13. Omission of the fact that the United Nations created a two-state partition for Palestine, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs.
  14. Omission of the fact that the Arabs refused to accept the offer of an independent Arab state contained in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.
  15. False claim of Israel's responsibility for the Palestinian Refugee problem.
  16. Omission of the fact that the PLO's recognition of Israel's right to exist was and remains a verbal recognition only, contradicted by the unrevised PLO charter.
  17. Inaccurate claim that most Middle Eastern terrorist groups have roots in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  18. Omission of the fact that Islamic Jihadists target Americans not only for their support of Israel but also for what they consider the "decadent nature" of Western way of life that threatens the spread of Islam throughout the world.
  19. Failure to identify the terrorists who perpetrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on America as Muslims or Islamic Jihadists.
  20. Failure to explain why the Islamic Jihadists targeted the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and to identify the fourth target as the White House.

The report found that three revisionist techniques were especially common:

  1. Errors of omission, in which information crucial to gaining an understanding of the topic is left out: e.g., omission of the historical fact that the Arabs refused the offer of an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution proposed by the United Nations in 1947.

  2. False statements or claims, presentation of facts that are demonstrably false and/or unsupported by historical or other evidence: e.g., the false assertion that Islam has historically been tolerant of Jews and Christians.

  3. Partial truths, or the inclusion of some facts while omitting others that might be quite relevant to interpreting and understanding the issues at hand: e.g., asserting that under Islam women had certain "rights" and/or "spiritual equality," while omitting the facts regarding the many restrictions and legal disabilities imposed upon women in the Qur'an and under Islamic Sharia law.

Taken individually, many of the errors detailed in the report seem relatively minor. They are not minor, however, when one takes into account the fact that the textbooks' captive audience is made up of children:

These textbooks are not intended for the free marketplace of ideas. They are intended for a captive audience of middle and high school students, whose only "knowledge" of ancient history comes largely from movies and television. . . . Therefore, even what appear to be "small" errors will have a significant impact on the students' understanding of history and thus their comprehension of current events. What's more, an accumulation of "small" errors can add up to a grossly inaccurate narrative that leads students to faulty conclusions and misunderstandings well out of proportion to the relative degree of individual errors.

ACT for America's report, which will be sent to public school officials all over the United States, may be accessed at http://actforamericaeducation.com.
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