Monday, March 22, 2010

Missing the forest for the trees

Jonathan Gurwitz, in the San Antonio Express-News, on the new Texas history textbook standard:

Not only does the new standard erase Jefferson, it also removes from examination the philosophic tradition of which he was a part, one that produced a history-altering revolution based on God-given individual rights, limited government and the consent of the governed. Those are subjects real conservatives should want all children to learn and understand — today more than ever.

But the conservative charlatans on the State Board of Education blotted out Jefferson because he's a little too secular for their liking. Forget about “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God” and individuals being “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Jefferson's lapse was in laying the foundation for the wall of separation between church and state.

It strikes me that the board really is missing the forest for the trees here with its exclusion of Thomas Jefferson from the new standard. From what I've read about Jefferson, it seems his espousing of the "wall of separation between church and state" has largely been misinterpreted. And it seems that the SBOE is taking out its frustrations at this on Jefferson, which means it's punishing Jefferson for something he didn't have anything to do with. Where's the justice in that? And how does it benefit Texas students? If anyone's going to raise hell about this new standard, this is what they ought to be protesting -- not the lack of inclusion of enough people of a certain race, some of whom only have a tenuous connection to Texas history to begin with.