Texas messes with Is­lam

Los Angeles Times - - Opinion -

From the state that brought you the no­tion that Thomas Jef­fer­son wasn’t an im­por­tant Found­ing Fa­ther, and that the in­tern­ing of 100,000 Ja­panese Amer­i­cans dur­ing World War II had noth­ing to do with racism, comes an­other at­tempt to in­sert per­sonal prej­u­dice into pub­lic school text­books. This time, the Texas Board of Ed­u­ca­tion is try­ing to limit ref­er­ences to Is­lam.

Text­books na­tion­wide have been twisted, dumbed down and flat­tened into such bor­ing tomes that it’s no won­der most stu­dents can’t abide them. The pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion es­tab­lish­ment’s con­cerns about po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness have re­sulted in books writ­ten more to avoid hurt­ing feel­ings than to in­form and chal­lenge. Cal­i­for­nia is one of the worst of­fend­ers, with its re­quire­ments that the el­derly, dis­abled and mi­nor­ity groups be shown in a pos­i­tive light and be given pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

But that’s not as trou­bling as the lat­est do­ings in Texas, whose school board on Fri­day de­cided that ref­er­ences to Is­lam in the state’s text­books must be re­duced. It’s bad enough that the board — which has made a point of open­ing meet­ings with Chris­tian prayers and voic­ing its be­lief that govern­ment should be run ac­cord­ing to Chris­tian be­liefs — tam­pered with his­tory ear­lier this year by or­der­ing pub­lish­ers to down­play the role of Jef­fer­son be­cause he coined the phrase “sep­a­ra­tion of church and state.”

No one could ac­cuse the school board of fol­low­ing in Jef­fer­son’s foot­steps. It’s par­tic­u­larly odi­ous to see a govern­ment agency, es­pe­cially one re­spon­si­ble for ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren, sin­gle out a re­li­gion and seek to di­min­ish its sta­tus in world his­tory. The new res­o­lu­tion comes from an ap­par­ent mis­read­ing of a text­book, one sec­tion of which con­tains more ref­er­ences to Is­lam than to Chris­tian­ity. But there are other sec­tions in the book that men­tion Chris­tian­ity ex­ten­sively. Given the board’s his­tory of set­ting a “Chris­tian” agenda, its at­tack on a sin­gle re­li­gion could be chal­lenged in court.

Whether the Texas school board likes it or not, the United States’ in­ter­ac­tion with Is­lam has broad­ened and deep­ened in re­cent years. To­day’s stu­dents will need to un­der­stand these changes as they en­ter the work­force and civic life. The board has done a dis­ser­vice to a ma­jor world re­li­gion and its fol­low­ers — and to Texas’ stu­dents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.