|NUMBER 315||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||APRIL 2012|
|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.
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:
The report found that three revisionist techniques were especially common:
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.