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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Yes, I Love My Uncle Joe, And My Textbook Tells Me So.

Did you know that China defeated Japan in WW II?

Yup, China whooped Japan! And they did it without any help at all from the United States, Australia, or anyone else. The United States never dropped those two atomic bombs on Japan, nope. It was all the heroic people of China, they defeated Japan. At least, that’s what current Chinese textbooks say, according to an article in The Week (October 1 issue) about how textbooks are being altered to accommodate political or religious views of history.

As if education hadn’t already sufficiently failed our children.

Yup, those Chinese and their textbooks, they’re pretty funny. They don’t have much to do with actual history, of course, but then – how important is history, anyway? (That’s irony, folks.) Given China’s once remarkable heritage as amongst the first historians dating back to the wonderful writings of Confucius, their newest textbooks are a barrel of ideologically inspired garbage that would surely set Confucius spinning in his deservedly peaceful grave.

Chinese textbooks are nearly as funny as some currently used Iranian textbooks that advise the young to “strike fear into the hearts of the enemies of God”. That’s a good lesson to pull from one’s history text. Or was it a lesson from comparative religions? How about the part of the text that assures women that they are, indeed, second class citizens? Yes Sir, that’s a lesson I want my daughter to bring home from school. I’m sure that in someone’s bizarre, sad little universe these “lessons” fulfill requirements for a modern education. Cups up to Iran, center of modernity and learning! And this in a land which, through the Dark Ages in Europe, offered the only known bastion of education. Only in Islamic nations at that time could one find the ancient writings of the Greeks and Romans, amplified with the thoughts and discoveries of brilliant Islamic philosophers and scientists. Well, those ancient and impressive Islamic keepers of the flame of knowledge were probably misguided, huh? Wouldn’t you say? I’m sure there’s some sort of reference to that end in Iran’s newest and brightest texts.

And then, folks, there’s good old Uncle Joe. You remember him. You know! Uncle Joseph Stalin! The man who had 20,000,000 of his own people murdered and buried in mass, hidden graves because they…um…didn’t like him. Can’t imagine why someone might not have liked Uncle Joe.

Count if you can the number of families that lost members during Stalin’s purge. Even today, how many people yet live who were directly damaged by his acts? And yet, well, it simply never happened. Not according to Aleksandr Filippov in the revisionist history texts he’s authoring for impressionable Russian school children. After all, per Filippov; “It’s wrong to write a textbook that will fill the children who learn from it with horror and disgust about their past and their people.”

Um, right. Change history. Do it for the children.

Let’s change the Russian history books, by all means. Only in this case and in the real world where some of us choose to live, “the past and their people” were really one psychotic dictator and his rabid (and terrified) military adherents. Well, let’s not allow the truth to get in the way of a good history textbook, shall we?

Russia had a long history prior to Stalin. I mean, they had some nasty old Czars. They had a pretty brutal revolution. They killed a lot of Jews. They tried out Communism there for a while, and it really didn’t work out. Maybe the books could just remove all of that, as well! Ivan the Terrible could become Ivan the Butterfly Collector! There were no pogroms, not in the revised books, the Jews just fled…sorry, left Russia because there was this, um…great kosher tea party that they all wished to attend. There was no Communist revolution, no Communist Party, perish the thought! There was just a Tupperware Party. The last Czar wasn’t murdered along with his family, they were…um…retired. To Bermuda. There they live happily ever after, with their neighbors, the tooth fairy and Sherlock Holmes. And there you go.

Are you laughing? Well, stop it.

It’s really not funny, and for several reasons. First, young people raised with such idiotic and damaging texts will grow up to believe what they are taught. Sure, a few self-motivated children and parents will see to it that they acquire info from other and more reliable sources. (Though that will be hard to do in lands which even restrict the Internet, such as China.) Your children will be dealing with those nation’s misinformed, ideologically blinded children as they all push into their adult years – if we all make it that far. Because such ideologies inculcated in the young in the guise of education most certainly lead to institutionally approved hatred of others. Hate leads to war for those of you who may be wondering.

By the way, if you live in America, you can stop laughing right now, please. I’ll get to what’s being done to textbooks in Texas in my next post. For now, be careful who you decide to throw stones at, unless you’re pretty bloody sure that you are without sin or revisionist textbooks.

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