Widespread textbook bias threatens national security

Brigitte Gabriel & Guy Rodgers ACT! for America Education
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“Sharia law requires Muslim leaders to extend religious tolerance to Christians and Jews.”

So states the school textbook World History: Patterns of Interaction (2007), published by McDougal Littell/Houghton Mifflin.

This false, preposterous claim is just one of hundreds of errors uncovered during a two-year research project that culminated in the report “Education or Indoctrination? The Treatment of Islam in 6th through 12th Grade American Textbooks,” released by ACT! for America Education.

Whether the topic was the Islamic empire, the Islamic slave trade, the Crusades, the doctrine and history of jihad, the Arab-Israeli conflict or 9/11, the analysis of 38 commonly used public school textbooks revealed a deeply troubling pattern of historical revisionism and bias, a pattern that paints a rose-colored image of the history and selected doctrines of Islam that is unsupported by historical facts and even Islam’s holy books.

For instance, Glencoe/McGraw Hill’s World History (2008) claims: “The Quran granted women spiritual and social equality with men.”

Aside from the fact that there is no such evidence in the Quran granting “social equality” for women with men, one need only look at Islamic history and the Muslim world today to know that this claim is faulty.

“Jihad” is typically described as a self-improvement program, despite the voluminous historical evidence — including Muslim historical, scriptural and jurisprudential sources — that jihad was the animating force for centuries of Islamic conquest that built an empire larger than Rome’s.

So why is any of this important? After all, how many middle and high school students remember much of the history they have been taught in school?

It’s important because today’s students are tomorrow’s voters, politicians, teachers, journalists and soldiers. Right now, they are being spoon-fed a politically correct version of the history and selected doctrines of Islam, priming them to accept a faulty narrative that Islam has historically been a peaceful, tolerant and egalitarian religion. The implications for future public policy and national security policy are alarming.

This whitewash of the supremacist ideology known as radical Islam is already affecting our national security. The Obama administration has purged any references to “jihad,” “radical Islam” and all such comparable terms from its national security lexicon and threat assessments. This administration’s “jihad denial syndrome” has resulted in absurd depictions of Islamic terrorism as “man-caused disasters” and “overseas contingency operations.” It has also made us far less safe.

The textbooks reviewed by ACT! for America Education reflect this denial of reality, as they virtually without exception fail to adequately or accurately describe and define the perpetrators of 9/11. They call them “terrorists,” but that begs the obvious question — what kind of terrorists? FARC? Shining Path? Basque separatists? Tamil Tigers?

No doubt if the terrorists were of the FARC variety, the textbooks would describe who they were and their motives. But the textbooks do not inform students that the 19 hijackers were Muslims engaged in the cause of jihad. It would be naïve at best to conclude this was an inadvertent oversight.

Consequently, students are left with almost no knowledge of who the terrorists behind the most devastating attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor were and why they did it. This is simply inexcusable.

There are many peaceful Muslims in the world, and here in the United States there are numerous reformist Muslim leaders and organizations dedicated to combating radical Islam. We support and promote their efforts. We agree that schools should teach about Islam, as they should all world religions, and do so in an unbiased, balanced manner.

But rewriting history to appease a politically correct agenda not only amounts to academic malpractice, it is dangerous to our future security and freedoms. Parents, grandparents and other concerned Americans must investigate what is being taught and urge local school board members and other education officials to pressure the textbook publishers to make historically accurate revisions to future editions — or else drop the books.

Brigitte Gabriel is president of ACT! for America Education, a non-profit research and education organization dedicated to protecting America’s national security. Guy Rodgers is executive director of ACT! for America Education.