A highly disturbing phenomenon is rising in our public school system today with hardly a peep of protest from parents and from our society at large: students are being force-fed a curious and bizarre narrative that presents Islam in a glowing – and historically mangled – light, while Western civilization and the Judeo-Christian tradition are demonized and smeared. The latest example can be found in New York’s statewide high school Regents exam where students will find points deducted from their grade if they don’t obediently regurgitate the Party-Line given to them.
Some of the test’s questions are based on specific readings from A World History: A Cultural Approach by Daniel Roselle, including this troublesome lesson: “Wherever they went, the Moslems brought with them their love of art, beauty and learning. From about the eighth to the eleventh century, their culture was superior in many ways to that of western [sic] Christendom.” Elsewhere, students learn from Roselle how, under Christian rule, “idols, temples and other material evidences of paganism [were] destroyed.” The text also marvels at how, after being conquered by Muslims, the Spanish city of Cordoba’s “streets were solidly paved,” unlike in Paris, and lamps were set up. At the same time, the author makes pains to point out, “there was not a single public lamp in London!”
The lesson for impressionable children taking this exam is clear: Islam is historically tolerant, progressive, and admirable, whereas modern extremism has more in common with Christianity. Islamic scholar Andrew Bostom described the teaching as a “grotesque distortion of historical reality,” leaving students ignorant of how “the jihad ravages…wreaked havoc—massacre, pillage, enslavement, and deportation—upon culturally more advanced civilizations.”
The exam also includes a reading from John Esposito, a Muslim Brotherhood apologist who appeared as a witness for the defense in the trial of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) in 2008. The HLF was shut down for being a Brotherhood-constructed front to finance Hamas. He’s even promoted the extremist Brotherhood theologian, Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi. He also co-authored a book with Azzam Tamimi, who has said, “Do not call them suicide bombers, call them shuhada [martyrs]…[The Israelis] have guns, we have the human bomb. We love death, they love life.”
The particular question based on Esposito’s writing asked students about Islam’s expansion into Africa. A “correct” answer did not involve anything about forced conversion or aggression. In fact, this historical fact is considered incorrect by the exam’s standards. Answers such as: “merchants were agents of Islamization; [Islam was spread] by religious leaders forcing their views on isolated societies; [and] there was conflict between traditional priests and Muslim men of religion” are all unacceptable.
Unfortunately, the New York State exam isn’t a fluke case that can be ignored. There are numerous cases where school textbooks are biased in favor of Islam over Christianity. For example, in one 2008 book titled Global History and Geography: The Growth of Civilization, the core belief of Christianity is summarized as, “…his [Jesus’] apostles claimed that they had seen and talked with him. They believed that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and had risen from the dead, or been _resurrected._” On Islam, it says simply “Muhammad was the messenger of Allah.”
In another 2008 textbook titled World History, it is written that “After the death of Jesus, his followers proclaimed that he had risen from death and had appeared to him. They believed Jesus to be the Messiah (anointed one)…” When that same book discusses Islam, it states “The revelations of Allah (God) to Muhammad are written down in the Quran, or holy book of Islam.”
In a third textbook from 2007 titled The Western Heritage, the basis for the New Testatment is that “[t]he authors of the Gospels believed Jesus was the son of God…” But the text sounds more certain of the Koran’s credibility, stating “[Muhammad] began to receive revelations from the angel Gabriel, who recited God’s word to him at irregular intervals.”
Gilbert T. Stewall, director of the American Textbook Council, reviewed ten junior and high school textbooks over two years and concluded in 2008 that popular textbooks did not mention that the 9⁄11 terrorists considered themselves Muslims or that jihad and Shariah law have violent and oppressive applications. The textbooks even advocated policy, diagnosing terrorism as a symptom of poverty, ignorance, and anger over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Stewall also found that Islam’s doctrines received significantly more attention than Christianity, and its “scientific” and “cultural” achievements are praised while Christian transgressions, such as anti-Semitism, are explored at length. One book calls the Crusades “religious wars launched against Muslims by European Christians” but characterizes the Islamic offensives as the “building” of an empire. Another text says non-Muslims converted to Islam because they “were attracted by Islam’s message of equality and hope for salvation” without even mentioning forced conversion.
Another study of 28 textbooks by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research found 500 faulty passages being used to teach students. The researchers found a heavy bias against Israel and a promotion of the school of thought that U.S. support for the country is the root cause of terrorism. One of the authors said they found an inclination to be “disrespectful towards Christianity, and rather than represent Islam in an objective way, [the passages] tend to glorify it.”
Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org told FrontPage that this latest case is part of a pattern caused by “multiculturalist ethos, which in theory posits that all cultures are equal, but in practice holds all non-Western cultures superior to Judeo-Christian culture.”
“The producers of this material are embarrassed by Western culture, which they’ve been conditioned to believe is responsible for all the evils in the world. Islam is non-Western and even actively anti-Western, and so it is above reproach,” Spencer said.
Thus, we see how the admirable desire to promote religious tolerance when put into the hands of the Left clearly crosses into a promotion of Islam and a degradation of Judeo-Christian tradition and culture. And so, in many cases, this also extends beyond teaching from a biased textbook.
In May, a 14-year-old student at a Roman Catholic school in the United Kingdom was given an unexcused absence on her record after her mother refused to let her join a class trip to a mosque where she’d be forced to dress as a Muslim. When the school was unable to provide supervision for her daughter, the mother kept her home and complained to school officials. In a letter addressed to the mother, the school head said the trip was “as compulsory as a geography field trip.”
“It’s like they are saying she is playing truant for not wearing a head scarf. If the trip had been without the leggings and the headscarf, that would have been fine but I wasn’t having my daughter dressed in the Muslim way,” the mother said. The school refused to back down and left the unexcused absence on the girl’s record. One can only imagine the furor that would have erupted had it been a Muslim student being forced to attend a synagogue or church.
Spencer warns that the biased teaching has implications not only for students’ education, but also for the country’s security.
“Whole generations of students are being taught to despise their own culture and civilizational heritage. Why, then, should they bother to defend it?” he asked.
The authors of these textbooks and the schools that continue to use them after being informed of their content are making a conscious decision to promote a glowing image of Islam at the expense of historical accuracy and fairness. The texts defame the Judea-Christian tradition for the sake of promoting cultural relativism and advancing leftist policy viewpoints about the causes of Islamic terrorism. And that’s not education; it’s indoctrination.
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