Sunday, January 12, 2020


The New York Times has a report on differences between American history textbooks used in California and Texas.
The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides....

A California panel asked the publisher McGraw-Hill to avoid the use of the word “massacre” when describing 19th-century Native American attacks on white people. A Texas panel asked Pearson to point out the number of clergy who signed the Declaration of Independence, and to state that the nation’s founders were inspired by the Protestant Great Awakening....

Southern whites resisted Reconstruction, according to a McGraw-Hill textbook, because they “did not want African-Americans to have more rights.” But the Texas edition offers an additional reason: Reforms cost money, and that meant higher taxes....

Texas policymakers feel strongly about giving students a positive view of the American economy; since 1995, state law has required that high school economics courses offer an “emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits.” That emphasis seems to have made its way into the history curriculum as well.

... California textbooks are more likely to celebrate unionism, critique the concentration of wealth and focus on how industry pollutes the environment.
That's America now -- but just wait until Donald Trump is a former president. I've said this for years: Trump may be voted out of office, he may even be removed in an impeachment trial (though that's a long shot), but he'll continue to be the most beloved political figure of all time in Red America, and that includes Ronald Reagan. Maybe this won't be the case if he's reelected and the country goes into a severe economic downturn, or if he presides over an unpopular war (though it usually takes many years before a war becomes genuinely unpopular on the right). But in all likelihood, he'll continue to be regarded as an all-time great, while the rest of America looks on in bewilderment.

That will be reflected in textbooks. Red America will demand that Trump be lavished with praise, while in the rest of America he'll be presented more or less realistically. It's possible that Texas won't be a blood-red state in a generation, but I imagine some other conservative enclave will pick up the slack and enforce GOP stereotypes in textbooks and curricula. Maintaining the Trump cult of personality will be an major part of this effort.

In a generation, I expect there to be dozens of Donald Trump Schools in the Republican parts of the country. This will happen even though we might nail him on financial crimes after he's out of office (though I think he'll get away with those crimes, as rich people tend to do). It might happen in part because he'll continue to be pursued. No politician has ever embodied the rank-and-file right's sense of persecution and martyrdom the way Trump has. That's the key.

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