Texas Textbooks are Biased and Politicized

America never meant to hurt anyone. “Slaves” were amiable workers, swept from their homelands to glittering plantations. The Palestinian genocide wasn’t a product of The Nakba and colonization, but rather, Arab delusion. American democracy was not established through ideals of the Enlightenment, but rather, the Ten Commandments. If you don’t believe me, just read a Texas high school textbook.

For years, Texas has been under national scrutiny for their biased textbooks. In September, the Texas Board of Education was urged to remove their descriptions of The Battle of the Alamo being “heroic.” After all, the battle was fought by slave-owning white men, who wanted independence in part due to Mexico’s ban on slavery.

This month, the Texas Board of Education has decided to reinstate the “heroic descriptions.” The Board has also decided to remove Hellen Keller and Hillary Clinton from school textbooks.

Elizabeth Gregory, the Director of Women’s Gender & Sexuality Studies at UH, addressed the problems with this decision.

“It strikes me that removing Hillary Clinton is a problem, given that she is a recent and important example of civic life. It does seem like a highly politicized decision, rather than an education-focused on, to eliminate the first woman candidate for a major political party,” Gregory said.

The board also voted to soften the discussion of slavery and its impact on the Civil War.

In addition, they voted to keep the mantra that “Arab rejection of the state of Israel” is the reason for conflict in the Middle East. If that wasn’t enough, they will keep “Judeo-Christian” figures as influential of American history. According to a report from the Washington Post, Texas textbooks severely downplay the “role of conquest in spreading Christianity.”

Though minute diction choices seem like an insignificant point of discussion, the biased language featured in these textbooks shapes the way students view the United States and the world at large. By downplaying the horrors of segregation and colonization, the Texas Board of Education erases history in favor of patriotism.

As if existing racial tensions in southern schools wasn’t enough, the learning materials for these students will be biased, inaccurate, and incomplete.

Without a realistic understanding of our nation’s history, students grow up with a rose-colored view of the country they call home. This miseducation trivializes the “anti-American” opinions of minorities that have been historically oppressed.  

For example, the outcry against American football star Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem was fueled by “patriotic” ideals. This “patriotism” followed the narrative that America was a country that deserved the utmost respect, and by kneeling, football players were disrespecting those who had lost their lives for their country.

However, the same government that allegedly deserves our respect conducted a mass genocide of native peoples, forced African Americans into slavery and placed Asian Americans in internment camps. Clearly, there is a disconnect between general knowledge and the realities of American history.

If Texas continues to support biased and outdated accounts of history, the  state will never break out of the confines of ignorance that are constructed in abbreviated history. If children are presented a misogynistic and discriminatory rendering of history, how can they be expected to lead this free nation in the future?

Opinion editor Wafa Kazmi is a communication sciences and disorders junior, and can be reached at [email protected]

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