Last week, we reported on the conservatives' attack on the instructional "framework" for advanced placement U.S. history courses published by the College Board.
"This Framework will effectively force American high schools to teach U.S. history from a leftist perspective," Kurtz writes. But as we showed earlier, that assertion is utter claptrap.
So far, the College Board is standing firm against this anti-intellectual assault. Let's hope its spine remains stiff.
He traces this conspiracy all the way back to 2000, and a meeting of the historians' cabal at a villa in Italy (!!!). There the plot was hatched.
One of Kurtz's main targets is
Kurtz further complains, "Bender wants early American history to be less about the Pilgrims, Plymouth Colony, and John Winthrop’s 'City on a Hill' speech, and more about the role of the plantation economy and the slave trade in the rise of an intrinsically exploitative international capitalism."
So Bender wants the teaching of history to focus less on stereotypes and more about the flow of underlying historical trends. Something wrong with that?
But as Ted Dickson, a member of the committee that drafted the AP framework, says, "It's important that our students learn about the world. I don't see how that's un-American."
Kurtz gives the game away in his discussion of "American exceptionalism," which he defines as "the notion that America is freer and more democratic than any other nation, and for that reason, a model, vindicator, and at times the chief defender of ordered liberty and self-government in the world." That notion, he says, is absent from the AP U.S. history framework.
The assumption that everything about the U.S. is or should be viewed positively and uncritically by Americans themselves or by people outside its borders can lead only to a lobotomized view of America and the world. That may comfort the right wing, but it produces ignorance, not understanding.
To people like Kurtz, any such intellectual quest is a threat. That should tell you something about where they're coming from.