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7.  HM’s Q:  Did the CIE or any other religious group contribute to the writing of either “A Message of Ancient Days” or “Across the Centuries”?

HM’s A:   No, the scope of their involvement was limited to reviewing the textbook material.

BC Comment:  WOW!  That is not what HM's Editorial Director said in an article profiling the CIE! (Council of Islamic Education). See article  She states very clearly that "We see our reviewers as playing a crucial role in enabling us to present accurate and complete information,"  She also notes that the Council of Islamic Education gave ISLAM'S PERSPECTIVE of the Crusades!!!!  I NEVER saw the textbook credit CIE with that in the textbook!

CEAI  (Christian Educators) concurs that they were contributory to the writing of the textbook.  CIE has never responded directly to my asking.

8.  HM’s Q: How did Houghton Mifflin decide which topics to include in the textbooks?

HM’s A: The initial edition of the textbooks was written to conform to state standards in California. However, these two books present an excellent view of European, Asian and African history, and have been used in many states across the country for more than ten years.

BC Comment:  Clearly the state standards need to be changed to prevent textbooks from publishing such bigotry ever again.

9.  HM’s Q: Does the textbook spend more time on sub-Saharan Africa than India?

HM’s A : Indian history is well represented in this text. “A Message of Ancient Days” dedicates Chapter 8 (22 pages) to ancient India. “Across the Centuries” includes 14 pages in Chapter 7 to Indian history. Sub-Saharan Africa is covered in 41 pages, only slightly more than the 36 pages these textbooks spend on India. Sub-Saharan Africa is not covered at all in “A Message of Ancient Days.”

BC Comment:  Again, it’s not about page numbers.  If 50 pages promote Islam and 50 pages denigrate Christianity and Judaism, balance is not achieved.

10.  HM’s Q: Do the textbooks take an “apologetic” tone to covering Islam? Does the text praise only Islam’s “great cultural flowering,” and including nothing about Muslim violence, war, or the decline of its empire?

HM’s A:  Religions and belief systems are presented appropriately; not as better than another, and not apologetically.

BC Comment:  NINE TIMES in the Islam section, Islam is praised for its tolerance of other beliefs.  Christians are never described as peaceful, tolerant, etc..  A whole section is titled, “Understanding Religious Persecution” and ONLY THE CHRISTIANS are named as persecuting anyone else.  Children are asked to write what is attractive about Islam.  In the Christian section, they are asked how they think others felt to be called an infidel.  This is common practice throughout the sections.  Is this “appropriate” as HM claims?

HM’s A:  Lesson two, in Chapter 8 of “Across the Centuries” is titled “The Flowering of Chinese Culture” (page 202).

BC Comment:  I had objections to this chapter as well in that the writer’s own philosophy is presented.  This is NOT the duty of a historical textbook!  Textbooks are not to be used as tools to confuse the beliefs of impressionable children.  Regarding a painting, the textbook states, “Notice the person in the foreground.  The size of the figure in relation to the landscape seems to suggest that people, or human activities, are not very important when compared with the beauty of the natural world.  Nevertheless, the painter chose to place a human figure in the scene.  Perhaps the painter is implying that people can live in harmony with nature, provided they recognize their small place in it.  Chinese painters tried to represent the spirit, or essence, of the subject.”  Wang Wei is then quoted, “Such paintings cannot be achieved by the physical movements of the fingers and the hand, but only by the spirit entering into them.”  (pg 203)

I realize our environment is of critical concern right now, and should be.  The Bible states that the first job God gave Adam was to tend the garden.  Taking care of the planet has always been important.  But what the textbook is pedaling are philosophies, not fact, and are opposite of what certain faiths believe.  The ideas are leading children into areas that are not the right of public school.  Test scores both nationally and internationally are embarrassing.  Public schools need to use the time allotted to teach our children FACTS, not the textbooks “ideas.”  The textbook described Jesus as “a popular teacher with ideas.”  We have chosen those “ideas.” Stop trying to lead our children to beliefs other than what we, as parents, have a right to teach them.

HM’s A:  One section in Chapter 6 of “A Message of Ancient Days” is titled “The Remarkable Sumerians” (page 152). In Chapter 10 of “Across the Centuries,” the “great Jewish communities” are described as “blossoming… in the centers around the Mediterranean and along the Rhone and Rhine rivers” (page 259).

BC Comment:  Interesting.  I looked up this last sentence above, in the textbook.  It’s proceeded by “Jewish trade networks also grew because Jews were free to move around Muslim lands, while Christians were not.” (page 259)  I’m sure they have some fact somewhere to base this statement on.  But I find it amazing how Muslims are credited at every opportunity while Christians are continuously painted as cold, calculating persecutors. 

Both Muslims and Christians attacked and conquered.  When Christians claim victory, the descriptions are such, “Charlemagne made his defeated opponents accept the Roman church and swear loyalty to him…he forced illiterate clergy to become educated, and tried to rid the church of corruption.”  (pg 258)  When Islam conquers a nation, it is amazingly done with tolerance.  Below, Houghton Mifflin brings out the harshest words about Islam in the textbook.  But surrounding those words are descriptions of the “tolerance” of Islam as shown in the context following: 

HM’s A:  The textbooks include accounts of positive contributions, as well as accounts of cultures, including Islam, using violence to conquer lands and peoples. Chapter 4 of “Across the Centuries” includes a section about how the Abbasids “forcibly took over territories” using a “strong standing army”. (page 86)

 BC Comment:  That is not what the book says.  It says, “Once the Abbasids had achieved power, they were able to hold onto it because of their strong standing army.”  The other fragmented quote can be found two paragraphs prior to that, it states, “The Abbasids forcibly took over the territories that had been conquered originally during the time of the old Umayyad Empire.” 

WOW.  For this explanation sheet, Houghton Mifflin is resorting to cutting and pasting facts together from paragraphs completely apart, to show how fair and balanced their textbook is?

HM’s A:  In the same chapter, the text states that “some [Muslim] rulers forced people to take on Muslim ways” (page 81).

BC Comment:  Check out the words before and after that sentence!  The context is:  “Over the centuries that followed, many people in the lands under Muslim rule converted to Islam.  Some rulers forced people to take on Muslim ways.  Many Christians and Jews kept their traditional faiths.” (pg 81)     Does anyone not see what I see?  Surrounding the sentence, first we are given a gentle term, “converted,” and after we are reminded that Christians and Jews were allowed to remain in their faith, a statement I’d like to see evidence of, as that is not what the Quran teaches. 

HM’s A: Finally, Chapter 4 details the downfall of the Muslim empire (page 84).

BC Comment:  Most of page 84 talks of the split between Umayyad and Abbasid Muslims, led by al Abbas.  The textbook states, “Some historians say that al Abbas was an uncle of Muhammad.”  “The Umayyad Empire had gained the reputation of being too much of a worldly kingdom and not interested enough in the religious ideals of the prophet Muhammad.”   I find it amazing that at every chance Muhammad is credited, yet in the Christian section Jesus is omitted or limited to “teacher.” 

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