Columns » Bob Lancaster

Book report



New American history textbooks for public-school students are on the way, thanks to the Texas State Board of Education.

Lots of material in the current textbooks that offended decent, God-fearing Americans has been left out of the new ones, and lots of old-fashioned family-values material that was left out of the current textbook crop to appease certain minorities and elites has been put back in.

The new texts aren't just for Texas students. They're for your youngster too. Bonfires for the books in use now are scheduled all across the country. Fox News, a sponsor, expects at least 1.6 million fires. There's talk that the historians as well as their books might go up in some of them.

There are too many changes in the new textbooks to mention here, but I can give you a sneak-peek.

George Washington returns as a larger-than-life character, unable to lie about whacking his cherry but needing only a loaf and a mackerel to feed his entire army at Valley Forge.

References to Ben Franklin's whorehopping are out, with no longer even a hint of his preference for the ugly ones and the French ones.

The wall of separation between church and state that Jefferson advocated has been scaled back to a “fence of separation” — and it's a low fence, easily stepped over, with a big swinging middle gate and no barbed wire.

John Adams is mostly out, except to note that he sure looked a lot like Grandpa Munster.

Though well-documented and undeniable, Davy Crockett's obsession with cornholing goes unmentioned. Strategy seems to be, ignore it long enough, it'll go away.

Andy Jackson defeats the British at New Orleans with grapeshot fired from hollowed-out alligators — the inerrantist version.

There's a more even-handed view of the witchcraft trials in colonial New England — careful not to take sides. Also a fair and balanced presentation of the lynching story, nicely abbreviated since they tend to run to type.

The traditional view of the first Thanksgiving — with both pilgrims and Indians saying “Amen. Dig in.” after grace — is back in.

The painting “American Gothic” continues to represent the embodiment of traditional American values but the faces of the farm couple in the Grant Wood original have morphed into those of Newt Gingrich and Phyllis Schlafly.

As a gesture to the Texican schoolmen, there's one of those dotted-line butcher's wall charts showing the individual Founding Fathers' favorite cuts of beef.

Abe Lincoln and his law partner William Herndon no longer frequently sleep together (or whatever) in the same bed.

The patriotic Civil War song “When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again” is omitted as it suggests troops returning can arouse homoerotic fantasies. (“We'll all feel gay when Johnny comes marching home.”)

Walt Whitman is out because … well, you know why he's out.

American Indians are no longer “native Americans.” They're mostly back to being “red savages,” except for the Inuits, who are back to being plain old Eskimos. And their chieftains no longer make the sad eloquent treaty-council speeches like in “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” Instead they speak minimalist textbook Indian as of yore — “How!” for hello and “Ugh!” for practically everything else. Gen. Sheridan's surmise that the only good one is a dead one is quoted, with a mounted subordinate whispering behind his hand in a balloon aside, “Ain't it the truth!”

In recreated historical dialogue, black men routinely address their white betters as “Boss.” The Klan is back in as a mainly benevolent fraternal order and Jim Crow is one of the rapscallions at the Mystic Knights of the Sea.

American doughboys win World War I without much help, just as, in a later chapter, Ronald Reagan destroys Communism and wins the Cold War all by his lonesome.

The New Deal is a failed socialist experiment that delayed recovery from the Depression. The internment of Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps during World War II is just a big misunderstanding, for which a little more forgiving and forgetting and letting bygones be bygones might be in order.

Joe Welch had prattled on long enough about Joe McCarthy having no sense of decency, so they're both out and good riddance. Except for the Rosenbergs we decide we can all just get along. If you're blacklisted, you just get over it. Ayn Rand is back in and looking good. Mary Jo Kopechne is back in and looking wet. Baby seal clubbers are regarded favorably again, as are whalers and furriers and DDT; it's those on the other side who are the kooks now.

AIDS is redacted like Nixon expletives because the classroom just isn't the place. References to Bill Clinton's amatory escapades are rehashed in full, though.

Big Century 21 snowfalls are clear evidence against the laughable idea of global warming.

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