May 18, 2013
Slanting History for the Children on the War on Terror
Posted on Nov 17, 2012
A high school history textbook taught America’s millennial generation that the threat of terrorism “can be eliminated, the Patriot Act was uncontroversial and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” reports The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf.
The 2003 edition of “The American Vision” by professors Joyce Appleby, Alan Brinkley, Albert Broussard, James McPhereson and Donald Ritchie, is one of the most popular textbooks used in 11th grade American history courses in the last decade, and a “time-capsule for prevailing attitudes right after the attacks,” Friedersdorf writes. Curious to see how historians represented events he witnessed as an adult, Friedersdorf began his reading with the book’s final chapter, titled “The War on Terror.”
The first paragraph Friedersdorf read skewed figures relating casualties of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with the numbers killed in Pearl Harbor and on D-Day, making it appear as though the nearly 3,500 people who died in the 9/11 attacks compared evenly with the tens of thousands of Americans and Allied Forces killed in the other events.
What followed took students from the September attacks to Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The text echoed Bush administration narratives about weapons of mass destruction and mentioned nothing of the social movements and arguments against the invasion, leaving students without a full report of the political reality of the time.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
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