Opposing Views Wanted: School District in Texas Seeks New History on Holocaust and Slavery


Photo by mostafa meraji on Unsplash

Yes, you are right, “opposing views” is the cousin of “alternative facts.” I was wondering that, too. Next, in case you were wondering, what is the “controversy” about the Holocaust and slavery? For most educated and sane people, there is no controversy when it comes these two historical tragedies. Slavery was real and it was disgusting. The Holocaust was real and it was horrifying — end of story on both, right?

Nope, not according to a law passed by the House in Texas which demands that “opposing views” be introduced when “controversial” topics are being taught. What are the so-called “controversial” topics you may ask? So far the list is not a long but it looks something like this: slavery, the Civil War, civil rights, critical race theory, women’s rights and the Holocaust.

“Just try to remember the concepts of (Texas House Bill) 3979,” Peddy says, referring to the new law, known as HB 3979. “And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust, that you have one that has opposing, that has other perspectives (Opposing Views).”

A staff member at the Southlake, Texas school made a cellphone video of the “training” session at which these rather shocking words were spoken. The teachers were being told that because the school district had hired them as professionals, and had entrusted them with the safety and well-being of their children, then they were obligated to obey the new law. They were obligated to teach the alternative facts being pushed into the consciousness of children by conservatives.

When one of the teachers at the training session asked the administrator how they could possibly given an alternative view about the Holocaust, the answer of the representative for the school district had a very simple answer:

“Believe me,” Peddy said in a longer recording obtained by NBC. “That’s come up (Opposing Views).”

At Klan rallies, Trump rallies or even with evangelicals, I am sure opposing views, even doubts, about those more “controversial” historical truths do come up. For example, this favorite: “Have you ever met anyone who supposedly gassed at Auschwitz? Isn’t it strange that no one has ever seen these (flash rabbit ears) gassed Jews around?”

Texas Is A Planet in Its Own Universe

Texas is in many ways booming. The population has increased by eight million people since 2000. Most people in Texas now live in a city or a suburb of a major city. The ‘burbs are booming and it is in these suburbs that the neo-fascist policies of the Republican Party are being met with the most resistance.

Yet Gov. Greg Abbott and the Republican Party have embraced a top-down policy agenda that is backward-looking, excludes huge swaths of Texas’s citizenry and runs against the grain of many of its new stakeholders’ values. They are looking to shore it up by a combination of gerrymandering, voter suppression and relentless cultural warfare (Future of America).

There might, however, be some good that could come out of the insane cultural warfare taking place in Texas. A slight majority of people (52%) polled there recently said that, despite the economic growth, the state was headed in the wrong direction. While these disgruntled Texans are not able to slow the tilt toward fascist-theocracy, they are appalled enough, and have the numbers, to make changes in upcoming elections.

Texans are concerned about all of the same issues that are plaguing the rest of the country: climate change, expensive or no health care, gun violence, voter suppression and now the rewriting of history to reflect a Christian-white-supremacist bias. If you are a white Christian with origins from Europe, “God bless.” If you are anyone else, “then don’t mess with Texas” is pretty much what Republicans are saying.

What they fail to understand, or don’t care because they feel confident their voting restrictions will silence Democrats completely, is that all of the radical stuff is only being supported by a small and shrinking minority.

It Always Comes Back to Racism

The lunacy that sparked the writing and then passing of HB 3979, like so many other things in our society, comes down to the question of white racism against non-white Americans.

White people just can’t accept that as the dominant and ruling majority in the “new world,” racism toward all other non-whites has played a prominent role. Not only was a lot of our power and wealth built on the backs of enslaved Africans, but pretty much anyone not of European-Protestant stock has suffered due to the ignorant racism of the white “natives.”

With the election of Joe Biden, Republicans seemed to have decided that harvesting hate and division in the soil tilled by Trump would increase their chances of winning back lost positions of power. While critical race theory is not being taught in schools K-12 in the US, right wing media nevertheless have widely reported it is— and that is all the non-thinking half of our country needs: If they see it on TV, say Fox, then it has to be true.

This right wing lie goes like this: Liberals are pushing critical race theory in order to shame white America. The right has so vigorously stoked the coals of this non-existing controversy that we now have conflagrations popping up all over red America. Right wingers are arguing with shadows and red-controlled local legislatures are pressuring educators to stop doing things they aren’t doing in the first place.

With HB 3979, Texas has moved the fake war to a new level. A Black high school principal was recently put on paid administrative leave in Texas simply because white parents suggested he was too aggressively teaching about critical race theory.

Falsely accused by a former school board member and then some parents that he was actively promoting critical race theory, the controversy became so hot that the school board was forced to investigate.

“I can no longer maintain my silence in the face of this hate, intolerance, racism, and bigotry,” he said a July 31 post. “I am not the CRT (Critical Race Theory) Boogeyman. I am the first African American to assume the role of Principal at my current school in its 25-year history, and I am keenly aware of how much fear this strikes in the hearts of a small minority who would much rather things go back to the way they used to be (Texas HS Principal).”

The sad irony here is that simply because Principal Whitfield is Black, he is being harassed. Assumptions are being made by the very same white racists that theory speaks about, that if Whitfield is Black then of course his views will be contrary to those of the white members of the community.

The sad reality is that by forcing “opposing views” onto teachers about historical matters that really don’t require much further analysis, the opponents to critical race theory are merely trying to hide in plain site. Their need for opposing views, the alternative facts, are all the reasons we need critical race theory to be studied in schools.

We are a racist society and we still aren’t ready to deal with this — the first step to quitting is admitting. We are still unfortunately far from that point.

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History tells us all we need to know about what's wrong with our society today. History also tells how to fix what's wrong. All we need to do is know our history and so much could be resolved. Sadly, we forget our history and get stuck in loops and we repeat the past.

Englishtown, NJ

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