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The Tennessee legislature -- with a Republican supermajority made up largely of historical illiterates -- is now in the business of mandating how history is to be taught.

HB 1129 and SB 1266 require all Tennessee high schoolers to be indoctrinated with a particular historical interpretation.

SB 1266 passed unanimously in the Senate, most likely because the few sane members of that body realized a vote against the bill would be seen as a vote against Murika by the gun-totin' Jesus-lovin' demographic, and thus increase the possibility that even more god-awful insanity would come to Legislative Plaza with the next election.

The bill is laughably inept in terms of its understanding of history, and thus plainly reveals much about its sponsors and supporters.

For example, the bill mandates students be taught that our system works this way:

we choose wise people from among us who will represent our interests, and who will honor the limitations we have put on them, to form our laws.
The founders would have laughed out loud at this, because they were painfully aware of the temptations that power brings, and thus created a system where "ambition should be made to counteract ambition," with checks and balances throughout to prevent any faction from doing too much damage.

Besides the self-serving language of this section -- as if we should thank the "wise people" of the Tennessee legislature -- this section also indicates the paternalism that permeates so much of right-wing politics, demonstrated by the conservative push that we should return to the practice of legislatures electing senators. Our legislators know what's best for us, and gerrymandering only helps protect us all from "those" voters.

Other howlers:

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, with
the Bill of Rights are available for all to read today, and still apply in
exactly the words they originally contained in simple English;
This is simply religious fundamentalism applied to the Constitution, something that could only appeal to someone who is oblivious to document's complex legal history. It also seems oblivious to the contradictions between the Declaration and the Constitution, documents created for very different purposes. For example, the Declaration calls revolution a duty, while the Constitution makes it treason. But the actual intent of this section is to promote originalism, which is, of course, the approach most favored by the right-wing. They've mistaken interpretations for facts.


The Constitution is the "rule book" for how the federal
government works. No action is permitted unless permission for it can be
found in the Constitution;
This, too, demonstrates the actual agenda of the bill. Even the founders argued about how the Constitution should be read. The bill isn't about history at all, because history is a series of interpretations. But for the bill's authors, acknowledging that fact would mean introducing students to competing points of view, and who knows where that might lead. Students might realize the Constitution can bear multiple interpretations, and that's why the Supreme Court has had plenty of work to do since the earliest days of the Republic.


And, of course, no version of wingnut history would be complete without American exceptionalism:

Students shall be informed of the nature of America which makes it
an exception differentiated by its behavior, influence and contributions from the
other nations of the world; and to show students why it is a positive difference,  
that has led the world to improvements in science, agriculture, economics,
education, justice, human rights, the standard of living, and liberty not only within
our borders, but across the world.
I'm not against pointing out the positives, but dang. This will probably have the same result as the "all drugs are always bad all the time" approach -- there's no way any thinking student could look at this and not become cynical about education. It's hard enough to teach history without turning it into a series of "facts" that can be easily refuted by anyone paying the least bit of attention to the world around them.

Yep. It's crazy.

More evidence:
Here's a victory tweet from the guy who wrote the House version.
Timothy Hill thanks a noted historian for her support.

Originally posted to fiddler crabby on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:50 PM PST.

Also republished by Southern Action, Three Star Kossacks, and Community Spotlight.


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