Monday, March 26, 2012

American Textbooks Adopt the Arab Narrative

American Textbooks Adopt the Arab Narrative

Thirty-eight textbooks used in American schools were reviewed recently by ACT for American Education. There are key problematic areas in the treatment of Islam in 6th through 12th grade American textbooks. The full 229 page report reveals a pattern of historical revisionism, omissions, and bias in the presentation of all aspects devoted to Islam in these textbooks.

Differences in presentation of key problematic areas lie primarily in the nature of the wording or the degree of historical revisionism, omission, bias, sanitization, and misrepresentation. A shortened 31 page Executive summary can be read at

The list that follows highlights some of the problematic areas identified in the treatment of Islam as a world religion and of events in past and recent history when Islam and the West have come into conflict. Please note that not all of the points listed below are addressed in this Executive Summary, but they are all covered in the full Report.

· The doctrine of jihad is omitted, incorrectly defined, inaccurately described, or understated.
· Faulty description of women's rights under Islam: The oppressive and discriminatory nature of Shari’a law with respect to women is omitted, mischaracterized, or understated.
· Omission or minimization of the Islamic slave trade, in sharp contrast with what is typically an extensive and appropriately critical examination of the Atlantic slave trade operated by Europeans.
· Aggrandizement and elevation of Muhammad's character that is contradicted by accepted historical facts.
· Misrepresentation of Shari’a Law in such areas as its applicability to non-Muslims and the separation of Church and State.
· Faulty historical narrative of the Crusades. Muslims in the Holy Land are commonly depicted as innocent victims of unprovoked aggression who were defending “their” lands against Christian invaders, rather than what is historically accurate:
(1) that Muslims invaded and conquered the Holy Land centuries prior to the Crusades;
(2) that Christians and Jews were victims of Muslim conquest and aggression centuries prior to the launching of the Crusades; and
(3) that the Crusades were launched to wrest back control of the Holy Land from the Muslim
invaders and conquerors.
· Chronological revisionism of the historical development of Judaism, Christianity
and Islam which incorrectly portrays Islam as preceding Judaism and Christianity and the Muslims/Arabs as the indigenous people in the Holy Land, resulting in
the delegitizimation of Israel.
· Omission of the fact that the United Nations created a two-state partition for Palestine, one for the Jews and one for the Arabs.
· Omission of the fact that the Arabs refused to accept the offer of an independent Arab state contained in the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine.
· Omission of the fact that the PLO’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist was and remains a verbal recognition only, contradicted by the unrevised PLO charter.
· Inaccurate claim that most Middle Eastern terrorist groups have roots in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
· Omission of the fact that Islamic Jihadists target Americans not only for their support of Israel but also for what they consider the “decadent nature” of Western way of life that threatens the spread of Islam throughout the world.
· Failure to identify the terrorists who perpetrated the September 11, 2001 attacks on America as Muslims or Islamic Jihadists.
· Failure to explain why the Islamic Jihadists targeted the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and to identify the fourth target as the White House.

With regard to the techniques used to implement the historical revisionism common in these textbooks, some are blatant and obvious, while others are subtle and deceptive. Three articular categories of techniques stand out:
(1) Errors of omission, in which information crucial to gaining an understanding of the topic is left out: e.g., omission of the historical fact that the Arabs refused the offer of an independent Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution proposed by the United Nations in 1947.
(2) False statements or claims, presentation of facts that are demonstrably false and/or unsupported by historical or other evidence: e.g., the false assertion that Islam has historically been tolerant of Jews and Christians.
(3) Partial truths, or the inclusion of some facts while omitting others that might be quite relevant to interpreting and understanding the issues at hand: e.g., asserting that under Islam women had certain “rights” and/or “spiritual equality”, while omitting the facts regarding the many restrictions and legal disabilities imposed upon women in the Qur’an and under Islamic Shari’a law.

Saudi Arabia’s plan, implemented in the mid-1970s, focused on changing how America looked at the Arabs and the Middle East. It focused as well on undermining American support for Israel. Islamist revisionism of Middle East history grew out of this plan, which has without a doubt significantly influenced the material in today’s textbooks.

Perhaps the senior editors who work for the textbook publishing houses do not know the history. Perhaps they check only for spelling and grammatical errors but not for historical inaccuracies and bias. Perhaps they have accepted, with little criticism or examination, material that has been provided them by Muslim organizations, such as the CIE, that lobby publishing houses.

Perhaps these inaccuracies reflect the biases of the writers and editors. Perhaps it is a combination of all of the above. Whatever the reason, the errors must be corrected so that history is recorded accurately and passed on to generations of students who must learn from the past if they are to become the leaders of the future. They can only learn from the past if the history that they study is accurate and unbiased, if the history they receive is “education” rather than “indoctrination.”