One of my children transferred into a public school for the first time this year, as a junior in high school. I’d heard rumors. I watch the news. I was somewhat prepared for the challenges. And, of course, there were reasons that I chose homeschooling for his primary years. That said, I’ve been astonished at the overt jabs made in his textbooks – particularly history – toward all that I hold dear.
Here just two examples that demonstrate an antithetical understanding of faith in God, completely separating faith from rational thought:
Franklin never denied the existence of God. Rather, he pushed the Lord aside, making room for the free exercise of human reason. (p. 91, referring to Benjamin Franklin)
You may see this as flowery prose. But I’ve read Franklin’s autobiography. Anyone who has studied Benjamin Franklin at all knows that he never “pushed the Lord aside.” To even imply that he did is disingenuous, if not malicious. On the very first page of his autobiography, Franklin refers to the “blessings of God. And on the second page, he states,
And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all Humility to acknowledge, that I owe the mention’d Happiness of my past Life to his kind Providence, which led me to the Means I us’d & gave them Success. My belief of this, induces me to hope, tho’ I must not presume, that the same Goodness will still be exercis’d towards me in continuing that Happiness…
Does that sound like a man who would ever push the Lord aside? Read the book – there are plenty of passages that would directly dispute the textbook quote above.
Here is another example that again sets up a “rational vs. religious” disparity. This quote was taken from a packet the kids were given to study for the same class:
Despite the inroads of rationalism, nineteenth-century Americans remained a profoundly religious people – as they have been ever since.
Here is a quote that takes on religious conservatives. I found this among many in a completely degrading and dismissive article highlighted as a sidebar on p.301:
…the more recent evangelical engagement with politics that was labeled the “New Christian Right“ sprung up in the 1980’s — epitomized by organizations such as the Moral Majority — mostly has been a conservative force of reaction against great changes in American society. The fundamentalist Moral Majority crystallized around the politcal issues of opposition to abortion and gay rights, as well as promotion of school prayer and vouchers for private schools. [emphases mine]
Not only did they demonstrate opposition to religious values, as seen above, but further on in the sidebar, they slammed religious motives by implying that Christians are bigots:
Unlike earlier evangelical reformers, they are motivated less by millennial perfectionism than by alarm at the growing diversity and secularization of American society, and they have joined with other religious conservatives in their political campaigns.
But along with a great challenge the writers have in seeing religious people as rational individuals with laudable motives, the book also appears to show unbelievable sympathy toward anti-religious political philosophies – particularly Communism – a belief system that Our Lady sought to halt by asking that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart. Catholics have long sought to educate the public on the dangers inherent within communist ideology. Saint John Paul II , through the Hand of Divine Providence, played a key role in the ultimate demise of the Russian communist empire (USSR).
Even in secular circles, most adults who grew up during the cold war have some understanding of the dangers of Communism, which was responsible for the deaths of 100 million people in the 20th Century.
In an introduction to the Cold War, these authors seems to show communist leader, Joseph Stalin, in a favorable light, while they cast a shadow over President Truman (emphases below are mine):
“I am getting ready to go see Stalin and Churchill,” President Truman wrote to his mother in July 1945, “and it is a chore.” On board the cruiser Augusta, the new president continued to complain about the upcoming Potsdam Conference in his diary. “How I hate this trip!” he confided. “But I have to make it win, lose or draw, and we must win. I am giving nothing away except to save starving people, and even then I hope we can only help them to help themselves.”
Halfway around the world, Joseph Stalin left Moscow a day late because of a slight heart attack. The Russian leader hated to fly, so he traveled by rail. Moreover, he ordered the heavily guarded train to detour around Poland for fear of an ambush, further delaying his arrival. When he made his entrance into Potsdam, a suburb of Berlin miraculously spared the total destruction that his forces had created in the German capital, he was ready to claim the spoils of war.
These two men, one the veteran revolutionary who had been in power for two decades, the other an untested leader in office for barely three months, symbolized the enormous differences that now separated the wartime allies. Stalin was above all a realist. Brutal in securing total control at home, he was more flexible in his foreign policy, bent on exploiting Russia’s victory in World War II rather than aiming at world domination. Cunning and caution were the hallmarks of his diplomatic style. Small in stature, ungainly in build, he radiated a catlike quality as he waited behind his unassuming facade, ready to dazzle an opponent with his “brilliant, terrifying tactical mastery.” Truman, in contrast, personified traditional Wilsonian idealism. Lacking Roosevelt’s guile, the new president placed his faith in international cooperation. Like many Americans, he believed implicitly in his country’s innate goodness. Self-assured to the point of cockiness, he came to Potsdam clothed in the armor of self-righteousness. – p. 700 [emphases mine]
Please remember, Stalin is a man responsible for the deaths of over 20 million of his own people. But I didn’t find a word about his murder rate. Nothing. Zip. Nada. Granted, this is an American history book. But some back story may have been helpful as the writers describe our conflict with communists. Instead, the book explains that the Cold War was the result of land disputes in Europe after WWII, and American “distrust” of Russian motives. At the first mention of communism, here is the wording:
“After emerging victorious from World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union found themselves locked in a bitter rivalry that threatened to trigger nuclear destruction of the entire planet. At stake in this contest were not only national ambitions but also incompatible ideologies – capitalism and communism – that amplified popular suspicion and animosity. Americans feared that as agents of world communism, the leaders of the Soviet Union planned the destruction of the free market as well as individual liberty. Indeed, Americans became convinced, especially during the McCarthy “Red Scare” era of the early 1950’s, that the Soviet Union had organized an insidious conspiracy that reached into the State Department and Pentagon and compromised the interests of the United States. Playing on the fear of ordinary citizens, Senator Joseph McCarthy accused famous writers, filmmakers, and musicians of being Soviet spies and Communists intent on helping the enemy. Wars waged in far-off countries such as Vietnam aimed to halt the spread of communism, and a growing anxiety over imagined Soviet aggression served to heighten among the American people a sense of the United States having a special mission as defender of democracy and capitalism.” – 100 [emphases mine]
Communism isn’t the only philosophy looked kindly upon in this textbook. Socialism is painted not merely with sympathy, but positively. Just about everywhere I read the word socialism, it was juxtaposed with the “injustices” of capitalism. Beneath the photo of a campaign poster for “Eugene V. Debs” on the Socialist ticket, the caption reads:
Presidential campaign poster for Eugene V. Debs on the Socialist party of America ticket in 1904. The poster’s imagery appeals to industrial workers, miners, and farmers, and its slogan, “Workers of the world unite,” was a key call to action of the party to challenge the injustices of capitalism. – p. 573
When describing Debs, the book says that his party was never effectively organized to create change, but,
…he was eloquent, passionate, and visionary. An excellent speaker, he captivated audiences, attacking the injustices of capitalism and urging a workers’ republic. – p. 573
By 1911, there were socialist mayors in thirty-two cities, including Berkley, California, Butte, Montana; and Flint, Michigan….although torn by factions, the Socialist party doubled in membership between 1904 and 1908, then tripled in the four years after that. Running for president, Debs garnered 100,000 votes in 1900; 400,000 in 1904; and 900,000 in 1912, the party’s peak year. – p. 573
According to Vladimir Lenin, who led the Bolsheviks in the Communist Revolution of 1917, “The Goal of Socialism is Communism“. The tone of this book should be extremely concerning to all freedom-loving Americans. The most damning comment I found about socialism was that it didn’t gain much popularity. Otherwise, tenants seemed to be couched in rather idealistic terms.
While some historians have argued that paternalism was part of a social system that was organized like a family hierarchy rather than a brutal, profit-making arrangement, there was no inconsistency between planter’s paternalism and capitalism. – p 269
Industrial capitalism — the world of factories and foremen and grimy machines — tested the immigrants and placed an enormous strain on their families. – p. 471
Many businesses used injunctions and “yellow-dog contracts” — which forbade employees to join unions – to establish open shops and deny workers the benefits of collective bargaining. Other employers wooed their workers away from unions using techniques of welfare capitalism – spending money to improve plant conditions and winning employee loyalty with pensions, paid vacations, and company cafeterias…. – p. 626
As I skimmed through this text, the distinct message was that religion and capitalism are bad. Communism and Socialism, on the other hand, seem to be held as superior alternatives to those values inherent in the fabric of our Republic.
We won the Cold War in the political arena, but lost it in the classroom. If and when communism is taught at all in American schools, the communists are lauded for their idealism, their devotion to equality for women and minorities. Their actual track record – the politically created famines, the wars of aggression, the body count in the tens of millions – is too frequently passed over in silence. – p. 3
That has been my experience with my son’s text. While I merely skimmed the book, I could not possibly find room in this post to share all the mud slinging I found – whether directly or by insinuation – directed toward our Catholic values.
Communism is dangerous. Socialism is a leap in that direction and gaining in popularity among the young in America, as demonstrated by the huge popularity of Bernie Sanders, self-proclaimed democratic socialist, who ran against Hilary Clinton in the 2016 presidential primary.
Recently, a poll conducted by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found that 58% of Millennials would rather live in a Socialist, Communist or Fascist nation than a Capitalist one. After surveying this book, I must say that I am not surprised. Sadly, few of those who responded to the poll could properly define socialism, communism or fascism.
My aim here is merely to shed a light on my own experience and suggest that you take a closer look at your children’s texts. You may be surprised.
I did meet with my son’s principal to discuss my concerns. He was very kind, and frankly, surprised by some of what I showed him. But do you know what he said? He told me that I was the first parent to speak out since they began using this book four years ago. Do you know what that tells me?
I was right to SPEAK OUT.
And YOU should SPEAK OUT too.
We should not stand idly by and roll our eyes at the anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, anti-American propaganda being imposed upon our children. Speaking out is the only way we can take back our schools. Action is critical. For if we allow our schools to mislead and even fail to educate our children about key events in the past, aren’t we dooming them to repeat it?