If You Don't Teach It, It Didn't Happen.

Note:In the time between this post was written, and it was published, it seems that the Representative who sponsored the bill has changed his mind, to some extent, on the virtues of the legislation that he put forward. Be that as it may, I don't think the content of this article requires substantial revision.

 Actual photo of the OK state rep. who sponsored the bill in question.

Actual photo of the OK state rep. who sponsored the bill in question.

You may have caught the news this past week that a legislative committee in Oklahoma voted overwhelmingly to prohibit the teaching of the revised AP U.S. History curriculum. The curriculum has been something of a political football ever since the Republican National Committee passed a resolution condemning it last year. The major complaint? The curriculum was felt to focus too heavily on instances in American history where we (and here “we” means the American government/people) were not awesome. According to this logic, if you pretend like these events never happened, then they never happened. Last fall, this issue was a big deal in Colorado, where an ideologically driven school board made a similar move to prohibit the course, and much protest ensued. The Oklahoma thing is like that, only the revisionist movement is happening at the level of the state legislature, and therefore the resulting protest will probably involve almost everyone in the state who isn’t part of said legislature.

According to recent rankings, Oklahoma is 48th on a list of 51 American educational systems. I know that correlation isn’t causation (though to quote Edward Tufte, “it sure is a hint”), but I can’t help but wonder if these types of approaches to dealing with things that a particular ideological stripe finds disagreeable plays a bit of a role in creating the kinds of problems on display in the state. At the very least, this type of behavior sure puts a lie to the conservative argument that censorship of incompatible beliefs is a “liberals-only” problem.

Birds! Tons and Tons of Birds!

In Praise of Ian Guch