Howdy! Today we're gonna mess with Texas.
By now it should be obvious to even the casual reader that I am not a huge fan of the state of Texas. All in all, I don't think it has been much of an asset to American history. Have you ever noticed how much time we spend making excuses for Texas to the rest of the world? Seriously! This is not meant to imply that most Texans are idiots, certainly that is not the case. I'm just talking about the ones who vote - and their representatives in Austin and Washington. It has been established, beyond a doubt, that most of the people who partake in the electoral process in Texas are brain dead. Does that sound like a cruel and reckless exaggeration to you? Two words: Rick Perry. 'Nuff said?
I am not trying to imply that the Lone Star State is without merit. Any place that can produce the likes of (among many others) Buddy Holly, Molly Ivins, Bill Moyers, Barbara Jordan, Mary Martin, Ann Richards and Kinky Freidman (not to mention the Texas Jew Boys) has more than enough to be proud of.
Then there are my beloved cousins, the fabulous Barras family of Port Arthur. Born and raised in Texas, they are the children of the late Marietta Clements, my mother's older sister. They are just about the smartest, sweetest and loveliest people you could ever possibly hope to meet - this side of the Rio Grande or the other. Hi, cousins!
But other than those little candles in the darkness, I'm not particularly crazy about Texas. Truth be told, I believe it to be one of the nation's glaring shames. Molly Ivins (rest her soul) once wrote that all Texans owe a deep debt of gratitude to Mississippi. But not for that state, Texas would be dead last in everything! And to think we fought a war over the place! I would suggest giving it back to Mexico but they have enough problems as it is. Why add to their burden?
The latest offering of Texas-style lunacy comes to you courtesy of that state's Board of "Education". They wish to "alter" the curriculum in text books used to educate children all across the land. Because it is such a huge state and they have so many children in public schools, many of the textbooks that are used in classrooms throughout the country are designed and written in Texas. In fact if you are over the age of fifty, one of the books you studied from as a child was probably stored in Dallas' infamous Texas School Book Depository at one time.
The Board of Ed in Texas has taken it upon themselves to rewrite history. You see, the problem with the story of America, they argue, is that it has always been written with a nasty left wing bias. I have to concede their point. Have you ever noticed the way those Liberal historians always tend to focus on the attributes of Abraham Lincoln? They totally ignore all that was good and decent in the character of Jefferson Davis! The Texas Board of Education is going to remedy this awful injustice. From this day forward (if these idiots have their way) Davis will be presented to America's schoolchildren as the moral equivalent of Lincoln. Look away, Dixieland!
Hmm....Given the underlying militancy of the right wing in general and the Tea Party in particular ("WE CAME UNARMED - THIS TIME") portraying a man who raised an army to go to war with the government of his own country as a figure to be admired - just call me a silly, Liberal nitpicker - but that does not seem to me to be a really nifty idea. Jeff Davis was not a hero. He was the most despicable traitor ever to walk American soil. His cause - HUMAN BONDAGE, FOR GOD'S SAKE! - was one of the most reprehensible in all recorded human history. As a result of that cause, over six-hundred thousand human beings lost their lives....and the jackasses on the Texas Board of Education would like to place him on the same moral level as Abraham Lincoln - The Great Emancipator! Texans is the craziest people!
It is also their plan to omit the name of Thomas Jefferson as one of the great thinkers who influenced the revolutions of the late eighteenth century. Now what the hell do they have against him?
"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs." -Thomas Jefferson
Oh, right. That is what they have against him. The fact that it was he who concocted the phrase "separation of church and state" probably didn't help matters either. They even want to teach your kids that the Founding Fathers never meant for ours to be a secular form of government. They were really aiming for a theocracy!
Wait! It gets better!
The word "capitalism" is being replaced by the phrase "free enterprise" (Sounds friendlier).
Historic research has uncovered a microscopic number of Germans and Italians who were interred during World War Two. Their conclusion? The internment of one-hundred thousand Japanese during the same period had absolutely nothing to do with their race. I am so relieved.
Confederate General Stonewall Jackson - you know, one of the guys who tried to destroy the United States of America - is held up as a role model of "effective leadership".
The words in Abraham Lincoln's inaugural address are to be placed side by side with those of Jefferson Davis in his. Can't you see? They were both great men with equally great vision!
Ronald Reagan cleaned up the horrible legacy of that wicked Franklin D. Roosevelt and his nasty New Deal.
In addition to the non-violent philosophies of Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights movement, equal emphasis will be placed on the violent philosophies of the Black Panthers - as if both movements had equal social impact in their time.
"Mayberry RFD" is cited as an example of American humor at its finest and most creative.
Actually, I'm just kidding about that last one. They didn't include it only because the thought never crossed their minds, I'm sure. Don't be surprised if Mayberry replaces Robert Benchley in next year's edition. To my utter astonishment, Lenny Bruce is not even given a passing reference. Go figure.
The panel spewing forth this fiction-as-fact, historical nonsense were not unanimous in their proposals. It was a ten-to-five, party line vote - ten white Republicans against five minority Democrats. I'm sure I need not point out for you who voted for what. The moon will rise in the east this evening. It was as predictable as that.
Just what is it about those naughty Liberals? Why do they always slant American history for their own selfish purposes? Or do they? Could it possibly be that history naturally ends up being viewed from the progressive angle? After all - what is history? It is the story of human progress! "Progressive" and "Progress". (You see where I'm going with this, don't you?) Conservative causes may look fine and dandy when viewed through a contemporary prism. But they always - without exception - look foolish, even totalitarian, when viewed through the objective lens of 20/20 historical hindsight. If you don't believe me, look up every Conservative cause in American history - starting with slavery!
Think about it: Who championed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security? It was the Liberals. Who was it that fought vehemently to destroy those programs? It was the Conservatives. In 1919 Woodrow Wilson literally fought to the death to include America in the League of Nations. It was the right wing fringe of American politics (Republican and Democrat) that destroyed any chance of the League succeeding. Had it come into being, it is very possible the carnage of the second world war might have been avoided. Thanks to the Conservatives we'll never know.
And lets not forget those damned, bleeding heart abolitionists. Although the complexities of America's sociology have changed much since the nineteenth century, by the standards of today they were Liberals all. The south went to war against the United States government for no other reason than to conserve the "peculiar institution" of slavery. These aren't mere political opinions on my part. These are inarguable historical facts, boys and girls. A group of dimwitted ideologues should not be allowed to represent propaganda as fact under the guise of "public education" merely to serve their own weird political agenda. The Nazis tried that seventy years ago. It didn't work then. It's not going to work now.
The final vote on the Texas School Board's "alterations" of the history of our republic is due in May. In a twisted way, I kind of hope it passes. I'd love to get me a copy of one of those books! That should be a scream!
Tom Degan is a 51-year-old video artist who in 2006 became so thoroughly disgusted at the state of America's national political dialogue, he decided to take time off to become a freaking civics teacher.