Sundays With The Christianists: American History Textbooks That Kept Us Safe From Terrorism
Well, fans of Christianist textbooks, just like in 1989, we're just about at the end of history once again, or at least the end of our two rightwing Christian textbooks, almost. Last week, our 11/12th-grade textbook, United States History for Christian Schools (Bob Jones University Press, 2002), closed out* with a discussion of the 2000 election, so this week, we'll rely solely on the the most fanciful textbook we've ever seen, A Beka’s 8th-grade America: Land I Love (2006), which advised us that George W. Bush's "most important" qualification was that he "unashamedly identified himself as a born-again Christian” who "took a bold stand against moral evils such as abortion and gay rights." And his presidency was almost as wonderful as Reagan's, we learn, largely because Dubya rescued us from the horrors of the Clinton years.
Here's what a bold, smart president George W. Bush was, according to Land I Love: He kept his campaign promises and made life better!
George Bush had made his position against abortion clear during his campaign, and he intended to keep his word. One of his first acts as President was to stop the flow of U.S. funds to international family-planning groups that offered abortion services and counseling. The President also began to push legislation for education reform, aid to private charities, and increases in military spending to rebuild America’s defenses.
To promote economic recovery, President Bush signed legislation implementing the first substantial tax cut since the Reagan years. Many Americans received their first tax relief in the form of a rebate on their federal income taxes in the summer of 2001.
If you were a simple clean-living American family making over a quarter of a million dollars, you had an especially nice time, and if your family had "Incorporated" at the end of its name, you were really happy.
Ah, but then 9/11 happened, or as Land I Loveinelegantly punctuates it,"9-11"-- including the boldface and quotation marks. The book's summary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, is actually fairly accurate, with what's probably the right amount of detail for 8th-graders, not too gory, but all the basic facts laid out clearly enough (and highlighted for easy recall on a test). There's no attempt to suggest the confusion of the day, and of course no mention of pet goats or the President's half-day disappearance. Instead, we learn that
Shortly after noon, President Bush addressed the nation:
Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.
It soon became known that the hijackings were the work of the radical Islamic terrorist networkal Qaedaand its leaderOsama bin Laden.
Things get a bit more lively in the book's discussion of the aftermath, of course. We learn that after the New York Stock Exchange reopened the week after the attacks, "stock values plunged" because "no one knew what to expect in the days ahead." But happily, out of the smoke and wreckage, a brave hero stepped forward to unite our shattered nation and firmly lead us forward, with perhaps a bit of an economic stiffy:
But as the Bush Administration dealt boldly and swiftly with the threat to America, confidence returned; by the end of the year, the market would be on the road to recovery.
We were kind of hoping the book might have mentioned how Dubya saved Christmas by urging us to be vigilant but still go shopping, but sadly, that's not in there. We do learn that President Bush created the Department of Homeland Security to keep us safe, though of course there's no mention of the new cabinet-level department being pushed through with an explicit rejection of union rights for its employees; you'd think that, given the fact that unions are bad for America, Land I Love would have wanted to mention that -- heck, they could even have been shocked at Democrats who wanted to worry about something as trivial as workers' rights at a time when the nation itself was in immediate peril. There's also no mention of the Patriot Act, because prior to January 20, 2009, only communists cared about privacy and civil liberties.
Land I Love explains how George W. Bush quickly won the war on terror:
President Bush had vowed that America would not rest until the terrorists responsible for"9-11"were brought to justice. Before a joint session of Congress, he called for a military campaign against not only the terrorists themselves but also the nations that gave them shelter and aid. Congress responded with overwhelming support, and the "war on terror" began.
We then get a fairly straightforward account of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, although for some reason the book doesn't quite say that the United States actually occupied the country and set up a new government; instead, Land I Love merely has this rather ambiguous passage:
By January 2002, the U.S. Air Force controlled the skies above Afghanistan, and American Special Forces had launched a ground assault against the Taliban. As suspected, hundreds of al Qaeda terrorists were captured and killed in the invasion; unfortunately bin Laden remained in hiding.
Just like George W. Bush, Land I Love is far more worried about the threat posed by Iraq:
Next, the Bush Administration turned to another nation known to have harbored and supported Islamic terrorists -- Iraq. Governed by dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraq had been under suspicion since it was discovered in the early 1990s to be stockpiling weapons of mass destruction (weapons designed to kill large numbers of people). In fact, the Iraqi dictator had used chemical weapons in war with Iran and against the Kurds of northern Iraq, killing more than 25,000 people. Following the Persian Gulf War, UN weapons inspectors found and destroyed literally tons of chemical weapons materials as well as long-range missiles and chemical warheads.
There's no yellowcake in this book, no aluminum tubes, no worries about a smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud, no question at all that Saddam was a huge threat to America. On the other hand, since the book was written well enough into the civil war that broke out after the invasion, there's also no jet landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, no Mission Accomplished banner, no glib predictions of a cakewalk or being welcomed as liberators, either. Instead, we simply learn that it was a fast, successful war, and that it was totally justified:
By March 2003, the White House, convinced that Saddam Hussein was still hiding weapons of mass destruction, launched Operation Iraqi Freedom, an invasion of Iraq to remove Hussein from power. Within a month, the U.S. had toppled the Hussein regime, and the dictator had gone into hiding. President Bush vowed to bring democracy to the Iraqi people and to help them build a stable government. But if Iraq were to have its own democratically elected government, U.S. troops would be needed to maintain order until the new government could be established. As 2003 closed with the capture of Saddam Hussein, it seemed that Operation Iraqi Freedom was on the slow road to success.
This textbook, of course, includes no mention of looting, no insurgency (that does get a brief mention later), no arbitrary and capricious actions by Paul Bremer (who?) and the Coalition Provisional Authority, and definitely no Halliburton, no oilfields, no Kellogg Brown and Root, no Blackwater, and no missing pallets of millions of dollars of U.S. currency sent to the brave little proto-democracy.
Outside the war on terror, the book offers a scattershot list of "national concerns" like North Korea, the space shuttle Columbia disaster, the Florida hurricanes of 2004, the 2004 Pacific tsunami, and one of Bush's greatest domestic victories, the 2003 ban on "partial birth abortions." If Land I Loverefused to get too gruesome in describing"9-11,"it has no such qualms about late-term abortions, which apparently happened when evil doctors waited for a woman to carry a healthy infant to term and then would suddenly commit infanticide for the hell of it:
From the beginning of his Presidency George W. Bush made it clear that he opposed abortion. Of particular concern to pro-life Americans was the barbaric abortion method known as "partial birth abortion," in which the abortionist kills the baby as it is being delivered. In November 2003, pro-life groups rejoiced as President Bush signed the PartialBirth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
We learn that in the 2004 election, America "voted with its heart" to keep President Bush in office, even though many disloyal elements dared to speak against him:
Many vocal Democrats in government and the media voiced their opposition to U.S. involvement in Iraq; anti-war protesters demonstrated in American cities, and certain celebrities even denounced President Bush and his policies on national television.
The book reminds us that the Democrats had all voted to authorize the war, even candidate John Kerry, so basically they were hypocrites. Even though the liberal media lied a lot, "for many Americans, the choice was simple":
The media followed both campaigns closely and projected a victory for Senator Kerry right up to the day of the election. But as the votes were counted, the people’s choice became clear, and George W. Bush won a second term. To the surprise of his critics, the President had received a majority of the popular vote as well as the electoral vote. This time, there would be no disputes or recounts.
Remember, this is the same textbook that didn't bother to mention that Al Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 election, and suggested that the Florida recount only happened because Democrats had "expected better results" in some counties.
We're also treated to a text box titled "First Lady Laura Bush: A True Lady ," not that they're suggesting a contrast to the previous First Lady, no no no no no. We're told that Laura Bush "brought to the White House an element of grace and charm that helped soften the strong stance her husband often had to take as President," and that her "friendly smile and faithful support for him won her the love and admiration of most Americans." Most importantly, unlike certain previous castrating ambitious maiden-name-keeping bitches that the text box doesn't draw an explicit contrast to, Laura Bush "set a good example of American womanhood in several ways."
For one thing, she was the most important thing a woman can be: a wife and mother (maybe Hillary was a 'wife' and 'mother,' but she didn't do those things right):
As a wife and mother, she knew the challenges women face at home; yet she realized it was a noble occupation and devoted herself to the task of raising twin daughters.
Don't be silly, there's no reason to mention the drunken antics. Shut up. Perfect family.
Also, Laura Bush promoted literacy and reading. Strangely, we don't recall any filthy libs worrying that Laura Bush was trying to force literacy and reading onto America's innocent schoolchildren, but that's probably because she only "continued the same quiet, diligent effort to make a difference through literacy programs and other outreaches aimed at American youth." She wasn't an ugly attention whore is what we're saying. We imagine that although the "true lady" subtitle was a dig at Hillz, this text box has become even more popular since 2009.
Land I Love closes out its section on the Bush presidency with another scattershot section labeled "Challenges at Home and Abroad," covering Hurricane Katrina, Bush's appointments to the Supreme Court, and a brief mention of Iraq. Katrina, we learn, was a terrible disaster that was a great challenge for President Bush, but there's no mention of his helping the survivors by looking out the window of Air Force One, or of how his horse-breeding friend Michael Brown did a heckuva job as head of FEMA. Instead we learn that it was a very bad storm, the levees failed, and then the "National Guard and other groups" cleaned up. There definitely wasn't a breakdown of order in the NOPD, and race had nothing to do with who got help and who didn't, what are you some kind of Race-Baiter playing the Race Card and trying to incite the Blacks into a Race War? Then again, perhaps we should just be grateful that the text doesn't blame the hurricane on God's displeasure with the gays and abortion.
We learn that George Bush's appointees for the Supreme Court were opposed by liberals who, after the resignation of Sandra Day O'Connor, were "concerned about losing their hold on the Supreme Court." You know, the liberal Rehnquist Court that gave George Bush the 2000 election. And Samuel Alito struck particular fear into the hearts of liberals, especially because of his "conservative position on the issue of abortion." Obviously, from the perspective of 2006, it was finally safe for Land I Love to admit that Alito had a position on abortion, although during his confirmation hearings he insisted he had "an open mind" on the issue and said that he'd only overturn a precedent -- like, maybe that one 1973 decision that a lot of people are het up about -- for a really REALLY good reason, like if he wanted to.
On Iraq, Land I Love is pretty sure that we were just about to turn the corner, and although by 2005 the Iraq Intellignece Commission had concluded that prewar intelligence on WMDs was thoroughly wrong, there's no need to burden 8th graders with that detail. We do learn that "Every day, insurgents committed cruel acts of terrorism, not only against U.S. troops but also against the Iraqi people," but it was "terrorists" doing that, not a "civil war" sparked by the American occupation and the dissolution of the Iraqi army. Poor President Bush just couldn't seem to catch a break from unfair critics who didn't realize how important it was to build a democracy in Iraq, which was totally why we went there, not to eliminate WMDs. Who said anything about WMDs?
Many people criticized the Bush Administration for its management of the conflict in Iraq and for the mounting number of American and Iraqi casualties. But the President remained committed to helping Iraq build a democratic republic. Like many Americans, he realized that such an accomplishment would not only benefit Iraq but also promote the security of the United States.
In January 2005, the efforts of the brave American soldiers in Iraq paid off when the Iraqis held their first free election in 50 years. Many walked for miles just to cast their ballots. The struggle for stability in Iraq would continue but a great step toward freedom had been taken.
And everything will almost certainly turn out well, because America doesn't lose wars or start wars for no good reason.
The book closes out its history of the Bush administration on this inspiring note:
America had made an important choice in 2000 when it elected George W. Bush. It had chosen a leader who wished to return the country to more traditional moral values and conservative republican principles of government. Not everyone would agree with President Bush’s decisions; even conservative groups would question his leadership at times. But most could see that he strove to lead the nation with courage and character. He restored the might of the U.S. military, strengthened homeland defenses, gave American families more financial freedom through generous tax cuts, and helped restore respect for the Presidency. As the United States entered a new millennium, patriotic Americans remained proud of their country and confident that there was hope for her future.
And monkeys flew out of our butts.
Next time: Wrapup time! Our history textbooks leave you with some inspiring thoughts about America and what God wants it to be.
* There's a newer edition, published in 2012, but as we've said, we're too cheap to shell out 50 smackers for that.