The American Textbook Council has concluded that the
situation is the consequence of "the interplay of determined
Islamic political activists, textbook editors, and
multiculturally minded social studies curriculum planners."
It has gone so far that correcting the situation now
becomes a problem, because "educational publishers and
educational organizations have bought into claims propounded
by Islamists – and have themselves become agents of
That comes from Gilbert T. Sewall, who not only wrote the
organization's report on Islam and textbooks, but also
generated a response to the flood of criticism he encountered.
William J. Bennetta, author of The Textbook Letter and a
fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, also has
documented dozens of instances of advocacy for or against a
belief system, and has produced a list of books where the
"religion preaching" leaves them "unfit for use."
Indeed, Middle East Forum director Daniel Pipes even has
repeatedly expressed concern about the "privileging of Islam
in the United States" and warns the stakes go well beyond
7th-grade texts. His opinion of Houghton Mifflin's "Across the
Centuries? Full of "apologetics" and "distortions."
Abdurahman Alamoudi, who was president of the American
Muslim Council and a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, worked
with President Clinton and the American Civil Liberties Union
when the guidelines, guidelines later used by a federal judge
to conclude such teaching was legal, were compiled.
Sewall said in his elaboration that his study showed world
history textbooks "hold Islam and other non-Western
civilizations to different standards than those that apply to
the West" even while "Islamic pressure groups and their allies
seek to suppress the critical analysis of Islam inside and
Such textbooks result when "nervous publishers" obey
educational fashion and rely more heavily on diversity experts
than on trustworthy scholarship, he said.
"Textbook editors seem not to recognize that a
school-related Islamic agenda in the U.S. uses
multiculturalism as a device to guarantee a purely favorable
and uncritical view of all things Muslim. At extremes, the
report suggested, multiculturalism contributes to a form of
peaceable cultural jihad meant to discredit or 'problematize'
European civilization in favor of non-Western cultures," he
The ATC describes itself as an independent national
research organization set up in 1989 to review the history and
social studies textbooks used in the nation's schools.
Also contributing to the criticism is the work of Bennetta,
whose conclusions are available at
TextbookLeague.org. He finds that textbooks from a wide
range of many of the best-known publishing houses used in
public schools today simply shouldn't be there.
"When we examine the textbooks that major publishers try to
sell to public schools, we sometimes find fraudulent passages
that function as instruments of religious indoctrination:
Religious myths are depicted as accounts of real people and
events, religious superstitions are depicted as matters of
fact, and the origins of religious writings are obscured or
are wrapped in outright lies," Bennetta wrote.
"These passages of religious propaganda have been devised
by individuals or groups that seek to use the public schools
for spreading their own sectarian doctrines and for recruiting
converts. In various cases, publishers evidently have accepted
material from religious pressure groups and have put the
material into textbooks, even though it is laden with blatant
preaching, miracle-mongering and fake 'history,'" he wrote.
Bennetta, who is equally adamant that no religious beliefs
be included as preaching in textbooks, cites a Houghton
Mifflin book "Across the Centuries" as having a lot of Muslim
"propaganda." He said the 1999 version has one thing an
earlier edition didn't: an apparent source.
Listed as a consultant is "Shabbir Mansuri, Founding
Director, Council on Islamic Education, Fountain Valley,
Bennetta said the CIE is "a conspicuous Muslim outfit that
evidently specializes in inducing schoolbook-writers to
sanitize and eulogize Islam, to retail Muslim religious claims
as facts, to retail Muslim woo-woo as history, and to depict
Islam as an amicable religion that resembles, and is
compatible with, Judaism and Christianity."
He said other texts and publishers for which he's found a
basis for criticism include "Human Heritage: A World History"
by Glencoe/McGraw-Hill; "A Message of "Ancient Days" by
Houghton Mifflin; "Across the Centuries" by Houghton Mifflin;
"Heath World History: Perspectives on the Past" by McDougal
Littell; "Ancient World" by McGraw-Hill School Division;
"Making Thirteen Colonies" by Oxford University Press, "World
History: Continuity and Change" by Holt, Rinehart and Winston;
and "World Cultures: A Global Mosaic" by Prentice Hall, among
Sewall said in his treatise that older textbooks didn't so
much misrepresent Islam as neglected and ignored it. Now,
those same textbook publishers have moved from ignorance to
For example, a concern raised by Swarthmore historian James
Kurth notes "the possibility of structural incompatibility
between Islam and the American polity" because of the
resistance of American Muslims to assimilate.
"These scholars should at least obtain a fair hearing. They
do not," Sewall concluded.
And, he said, the California-based
Council on Islamic Education director Shabbir Mansuri
concluded the ATC was an "extremist" organization for issuing
a report on such concerns, even though there's no evidence of
Houghton Mifflin's chief publicist, Collin Earnst, also
criticized the report, suggesting that such "bias has misled
the public into believing that Islam is a barbaric and
Earnst told WND that his company has a careful process for
obtaining input on books, reviewing that input, and then
deciding what should be published. Where issues of "belief" by
a religious group are involved, reasonable citations and
attribution are included, he told WND.
He said among the groups used for comment in the past have
been Hadassah and the Christian Educators Association.
But Sewall said there were no such conclusions in his
report. "The publisher made these cynical claims to deflect
attention from the source of the problem: the textbooks
He cited one passage from Houghton Mifflin's "Patterns of
"In Islam, following the law is a religious obligation.
Muslims do not separate their personal life from their
religious life, and Islamic law regulates almost all areas
of human life. Because of this, Islamic law helped to bring
order to Muslim states. It provided the state with a set of
values that shaped a common identity. In addition to
unifying individual states, law helped to unify the Muslim
world. Even though various Muslim states might have ethnic
or cultural differences, they lived under a common law."
That, Sewall said, "conveys nothing." Further, it never
explains that sharia bears "no resemblance to U.S. law, which
grew out of the British constitution."
Other criticism came from the report's concerns over why
Muslims so often don't get along with neighbors. "Looking at
Algeria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, and the Philippines,
for example, where religious wars are being conducted today
against infidels, this proposition is more than plausible,"
In the California case that was litigated, Edward White
III, of the
Thomas More Law Center wondered, "Would it have been 'just
cultural education' if students were in simulated baptisms,
wearing a crucifix, having taken the name of St. John and with
praise banners saying 'Praise be to Jesus Christ' on classroom
From Nyssa, Ore., where one parent raised objections to the
Islamic teachings, Supt.
Don Grotting, said the text includes assignments for
students to learn the "Five Pillars" and study Ramadan.
Grotting acknowledged to WND that textbooks do "take a
slant" on some issues, because publishers "are wanting to sell
a textbook that is meeting the needs of the state and federal
And in the California case, school officials also blamed
the "possible cant" of the textbook.
Sewall said textbooks in America should "explain the
historically potent strain of Islam that promotes separatism
and theocracy. Instead, they are trying to trim history to
please Islamic pressure groups and allied ideologues.
"The implications for U.S. civic education are immense,
especially if students are unaware of or even accept the idea
that for politically esthetic reasons they are being lied to
or emotionally manipulated."
"If our nation's cultural underpinnings are in conflict
with religious dogma and values that are intent on replacing
or even eradicating them, should not children and their
teachers be made aware? Just as pro-Soviet enthusiasms, Mao
worship, and Cold War revisionism seem na?ve today, currently
prescribed views of Islam may also some day seem like
dangerous nonsense. And what key points might replace the
obvious flaws in the current generation of textbooks? That
militant Islam is a real force in the world today, an
insurgency that is a real threat to the nation's democratic
way of life and freedoms that its citizens often take for
"Today, Christmas and Nativity scenes are outlawed while
Clinton's nominee, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton,
recently approved 'Islam: A Simulation' where children learn
to become Muslim, recite the Quran, fast for Ramadan and pray
to Allah including this prayer: 'In the name of Allah, the
Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of
Creation, The Compassionate, the Merciful, King of
Judgment-day! You alone we worship, and to You alone we pray
for help, Guide us to the straight path,'" wrote Jen Shroder,
"America does not comprehend Muslim resolve to make America
Islam," Shroder wrote. "Suicide bombers have already
demonstrated their willingness to kill and die for it."
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