Much of the indoctrination was delivered in a corrupt schoolbook produced by a commercial publishing company that calls itself the Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI). The textbook is titled History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. Its ISBN is 1-58371-376-X, and its copyright date is 2005. TCI promotes History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond to teachers, schools and school districts while explicitly and falsely representing it as a textbook of history.
This report is an analytical account of the indoctrination that the Mohave Middle School students experienced. In preparing the report, I have relied on my own reading of History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, on my own collecting of information from published sources (which are cited in the end-notes that support my text), on my own knowledge of Muslim propaganda agencies, and on help that I have received from Janie White.
Janie White, of Paradise Valley, Arizona, is the mother of a student, Rachel White, who underwent Islamic indoctrination while taking the 7th-grade social-studies course at the Mohave Middle School. In October 2004 Janie White wrote to me about what was happening in that course, and she directed my attention to History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. In later months, she corresponded with functionaries of the Scottsdale Unified School District and sought official information about what the District had done -- and she kept me informed as those functionaries stonewalled by evading or ignoring her inquiries.
Janie White also enlisted the historian Thomas F. Madden, who is a specialist in the history of the crusades, to prepare a partial analysis of the material about the crusades that appears in History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond. I have incorporated much of his analysis into my report.
My text has nine major parts:
In Part 1 (titled "Muslim Propagandists, Crooked Publishers and Ignorant Schoolteachers"), I equip my readers to comprehend that the Mohave Middle School episode wasn't unusual. It was merely one of countless cases in which Muslim propagandists, by exploiting the ignorance and gullibility of teachers, have been able to inject Muslim religious preaching and phony Muslim "history" into public schools.
Part 1 Muslim Propagandists, Crooked Publishers and Ignorant Teachers
Muslim propagandists operating in America have been highly successful in impelling our public schools to disseminate pseudohistorical claptrap in which Islam is glorified and whitewashed, Muslim religious legends and fantasies are promoted and endorsed as accounts of historical events, and Muslim religious claims are presented as facts. In schools that dispense such claptrap, students are induced -- indeed, are required -- to accept and to parrot Muslim religious beliefs.
The Muslim propagandists owe much of their success to their skillful manipulation of publishers of instructional materials. They have been able to persuade various publishers to become their confederates, and these publishers have produced corrupt textbooks and corrupt curriculum manuals which say what the Muslims want them to say, exclude any topics that the Muslims don't like, and shun any information that the Muslims don't want to see in print.
As examples of corrupt schoolbooks and corrupt curriculum manuals that reflect the labors and influence of Muslim pressure groups and propagandists, I cite:
Prentice Hall's high-school book World Cultures: A Global Mosaic (See "Promoting Islam in American Schoolrooms" in The Textbook Letter, Vol. 11, No. 1.)
The fake "history" found in instructional publications which have been perverted by Muslim pressure groups is not limited to fantastic claims about supernatural beings and supernatural happenings. In typical cases, the corrupted publications also have sought to glorify and whitewash Islam by presenting such phony "facts" as these: Europeans didn't have any sailing ships until they learned about sails from Muslims; the existence of bacteria was discovered by a medieval Muslim, long before the invention of the microscope; and the subordination of women in Muslim countries today is attributable to "oppressive local traditions" rather than to "Muslim principles."
An uninitiated observer may be amazed and bewildered when he learns that the publishers of "educational" products print religious fables as "history" and print false, misleading or utterly nonsensical claims like the ones that I have just cited. But a person who has studied the educational-publishing industry will not be amazed or bewildered at all. Companies that supply instructional products to American public schools routinely cater to propagandists, respond to the propagandists' inducements, and turn out textbooks and other products which incorporate and endorse material derived from the propagandists' handouts. Any hustler, huckster, con artist, quack or religious zany, if he has enough skill and money, can get his message into schoolbooks -- or so it seems. Over the years, The Textbook Letter has called attention to bald propaganda, in schoolbooks, that plugged commercial products [see note 1, below], promoted various forms of quackery [note 2], endorsed phony "history" that glorified American Indians [note 3], endorsed the hoax-holiday Kwanzaa [note 4], and so forth.
The uninitiated observer now wonders how instructional-material companies can get away with such malfeasance. The uninitiated observer wonders how companies which sell out to propagandists, and which print books larded with promotional claptrap, can successfully market such books to schools. And the uninitiated observer asks: Don't educators recognize that the books are serving as vehicles for propaganda and are functioning as devices for deceiving and duping students?
In answering that question, I shall focus on the realm of history education -- the realm that is directly and intimately relevant to the subject of this report. My short answer to the question is: No, the educators don't recognize that the books are serving as vehicles for propaganda and are functioning as devices for deceiving and duping students. My longer answer is: A few of them may recognize it, but most of them don't, because most of them are too ignorant.
To understand this, my readers must understand that most (not all, but certainly most) of the people who give history courses in American middle schools and high schools do not possess any professional knowledge or understanding of history. Most (not all, but most) of the people who give history courses in American middle schools and high schools have not studied history and do not even know what history is -- that is, they do not know that the scholarly discipline which we designate by the name history is devoted to reconstructing and analyzing the past through the use of evidence and reason.
Because they are so ignorant, most of the people who purport to teach history in American middle schools and high schools are appallingly gullible. They readily believe (and convey to students) any claim that is touted as history on a printed page, no matter how absurd the claim may be -- and hence they are ready-made pigeons for unscrupulous publishers.
The sad condition of the corps of teachers who provide history education in our schools has been described often. One of the best expositions of this topic appeared in a speech that the historian Diane Ravitch gave to the National Council for History Education on 18 October 1997. That speech was titled "Who Prepares Our History Teachers? Who Should Prepare Our History Teachers?" It included a statistical sketch (based on data gathered by the National Center for Education Statistics) of what America's history teachers studied in college:
Of those teachers who describe themselves as social studies teachers, that is, those who teach social studies in middle school or secondary school, only 18.5% have either a major or a minor in history. That is, 81.5% of social studies teachers did not study history in college either as a major or a minor. In case you think you didn't hear me correctly, let me say it again: 81.5% of social studies teachers did not study history in college either as a major or a minor. This figure helps to explain why history is no longer the center of the social studies, since so few social studies teachers have ever studied history.
I have quoted at length from Ravitch's speech to help my readers comprehend why a crooked company, having allied itself with a Muslim pressure group, can merrily and safely produce a schoolbook which presents as "history" a narrative in which Muhammad goes into a cave and has a meeting with an angel -- yes, an angel! In a history-book market where most of the buyers don't even know what history is, a crooked company's book can be a commercial success even if it peddles absurd items of supernaturalistic woo-woo as historical facts.
The Council on Islamic Education One Muslim pressure group has been especially diligent and especially successful in gaining influence over instructional-materials companies and inducing the companies to produce corrupt schoolbooks and other corrupt products that disseminate Muslim pseudohistory. This pressure group is the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), based in Fountain Valley, California.
The CIE's founding director, Shabbir Mansuri, openly boasts that the CIE has been "collaborating" with "K-12 publishers," has done "consulting on new history/social studies textbook programs," and has been "developing classroom materials and providing in-service workshops to educators" [note 5]. What is more, some instructional products openly acknowledge that the CIE participated in creating them! In a recent survey of world-history and social-studies materials, I have found that Mansuri is listed as a consultant or a reviewer in schoolbooks or curriculum manuals published by Prentice Hall, by the Glencoe/McGraw-Hill unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies, by Houghton Mifflin, and by Harcourt Brace & Company. In some books, Mansuri alone is listed; in other books, the lists of reviewers and consultants show the names of Mansuri and another CIE luminary, Susan Douglass. In some cases, Susan Douglass's connection with the CIE is disclosed, but in other cases it is concealed.
I have examined the passages about Islam in instructional products which explicitly acknowledge participation by the CIE or Mansuri or both, and I have found that such passages are consistently fraudulent and vicious.
Concealing the Realities of the Arab World Now let me call upon Diane Ravitch again. This time I quote some observations that she has made in her recent, excellent book The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn. In her ninth chapter Ravitch tells that world-history schoolbooks routinely whitewash, sanitize and even glorify religions, and she calls attention to one way in which the books distort and corrupt the history of Islam:
The texts appropriately describe Islamic civilization as the richest, most powerful, and most creative in the world during the Middle ages, but they shed little light on the reasons for its loss of dominance to Europe.
Later in the same chapter she writes:
Three publishers [of world-history books] -- Glencoe, Houghton Mifflin, and Prentice Hall -- rely on the same individual [i.e., Shabbir Mansuri] from the Council on Islamic Education to review their Islamic content. This may account for the similarity of their material on Islam as well as their omission of anything that would enable students to understand conflicts between Islamic fundamentalism and Western liberalism. . . .
Ravitch is making a polite understatement, I believe, when she says that world-history textbooks "shed little light" on the reasons for the Islamic world's decline. As far as I know, today's history texts say nothing whatever about the Islamic world's decline. They don't even acknowledge it, let alone explaining it. I have seen many schoolbooks which offer gushy accounts of the intellectual endeavors that prospered in Islamic societies of the Middle East during medieval times, but I never have seen a schoolbook which tells how those societies later stagnated, fell behind the West in intellectual affairs, and became the societies that characterize the Islamic Middle East today -- societies mired in institutionalized ignorance and backwardness.
Part 2 The Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI)
Though the name Teachers' Curriculum Institute may suggest an academic organization, TCI is a commercial publisher. It has at least two addresses for mail: Post Office Box 1327, Rancho Cordova, California 95471 and Post Office Box 50996, Palo Alto, California 94303. Its editorial operations evidently are based in Palo Alto.
TCI's products include a collection of materials that are marketed under the general title History Alive! and are sold to schools. Among these products are four textbooks:
History Alive! America's Past
The History Alive! textbooks are highly derivative. They are loaded with material that has appeared in earlier schoolbooks, including material that has been well discredited. The TCI writers have repeatedly scorned historical scholarship and the very concept of history, and any informed reader will recognize instances in which these writers have simply appropriated stale material (whether from old schoolbooks or from other products) without trying to verify it. Likewise, any informed reader will recognize that the TCI writers have larded their books with "facts" that are simply the writers' guesses.
Here are three quick examples to illustrate the points that I have just set forth. I have picked these items from among the many derangements that appear in History Alive! America's Past, the first book in the History Alive! series. I consider it important to demonstrate that History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond isn't the only TCI book that reflects the TCI writers' affection for mindless copying and guesswork:
I think that these three examples suffice to introduce TCI, to show how TCI operates, and to demonstrate that TCI's "history" books cannot be trusted to deliver history.
TCI's Product The Modern Middle East Besides producing textbooks, TCI produces discrete "supplemental programs" that purportedly enable teachers to give lessons about various topics in history and social studies. One of these programs, titled The Modern Middle East, received considerable attention after it was analyzed and denounced by two members of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), headquartered in San Francisco.
In October 2003 the JCRC analysts promulgated an admirable, detailed review of The Modern Middle East [note 11], and they showed that it was rife with inaccurate or misleading claims, misleading nomenclature, part-truths, distortions and other rhetorical tricks. They concluded that the TCI writers' depiction of the current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians was "clearly aimed at producing feelings of sympathy in the students for one side of the conflict, the Palestinian."
Even if we ignore the JCRC analysts' grand conclusion that The Modern Middle East has been contrived to evoke "sympathy in the students for one side of the conflict," we are left with the analysts' specific, well supported findings: The Modern Middle East is indeed loaded with false claims, misleading "information," distortions, and other devices. The JCRC knows this, we know it, and -- most importantly -- TCI knows it too. But TCI, at this writing, still is promoting The Modern Middle East and selling it for use in schools.
An Islamic Agency's Endorsement of TCI Products The Islamic Networks Group (ING) is a Muslim propaganda agency based in San Jose, California. On its Web site, on a page headlined "Tips for Teaching About Islam in the Context of Social Studies and World History" [note 12], ING recommends the publications of three organizations. The first of these is the Council on Islamic Education (CIE), the Muslim pressure group that I cited earlier in this report. The second is AWAIR: Arab World And Islamic Resources and School Services, a Muslim propaganda agency that seems to operate from Abiquiu, New Mexico. The third is TCI.
TCI is not the only schoolbook company that sells books which carry Muslim propaganda and serve as vehicles for Islamic indoctrination, yet TCI is the only schoolbook company whose products are endorsed by the ING. TCI evidently enjoys an especially close relationship with the ING (and perhaps with other Muslim agencies).
Part 3 Defining the Word History
When the word history entered our language, some 600 years ago, it simply meant a narrative. It was applied to any account of events, whether the events were real or imaginary. With the passing of time, however, that original way of using history faded, and history acquired a narrower meaning: It came to denote a narrative that was professedly an account of events that actually had occurred, as distinct from a narrative of happenings that were acknowledgedly fictitious [note 13].
In today's lexicon, the word history has three major meanings:
In the rest of this report the word history always will carry one of those three meanings, unless it appears in quotation marks or in the title of a TCI publication. In the rest of this report the word history, unless it appears in quotation marks or in the title of a TCI publication, always will imply recourse to evidence and reason. It always will mean the scholarly discipline that invokes evidence and reason for reconstructing and analyzing the past; or a narrative of events that are verifiable through the use of evidence and reason; or an aggregation of events, verifiable through the use of evidence and reason, that cohere within some stated context.
With this background information in place, I now turn to analyzing the fraudulent treatment of Islam in TCI's book History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond.
Henceforth I shall refer to the book in question by the abbreviated title Medieval World.
Part 4 The Depiction of Islam in Medieval World
Islam is covered in Unit 2. This unit, titled "The Rise of Islam," comprises chapter 7 ("The Geography of the Arabian Peninsula"), chapter 8 ("The Prophet Muhammad"), chapter 9 ("The Teachings of Islam"), chapter 10 ("Contributions of Muslims to World Civilization") and chapter 11 ("From the Crusades to New Muslim Empires").
Nowhere in the book is there a chapter that describes the decline and decay of the Arabic Muslim world, although those processes became conspicuous and important long before the end of the period that Medieval World supposedly spans.
As a whole, the treatment of Islam in Medieval World is off-the-shelf stuff. It is typical of the propaganda distributed by Muslim pressure groups, and it displays these characteristic properties:
The Muslim Foundation Myth A foundation myth is a myth that purports to describe the origin of some group of people or some institution. Such myths are everywhere: Foundation myths have been invented to account for the origins of corporations, sports teams, towns, nations, ethnic groups, political parties, roadside attractions, and so forth. A foundation myth may be a single simple story, or it may be a grand, elaborate concatenation of many discrete narratives and claims.
Some of the most elaborate foundation myths are those that deal with the origins of certain religious groups. One example is the Hebrew foundation myth, which comprises hundreds of discrete stories and is set forth in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., the Book of Genesis, the Book of Exodus, the Book of Leviticus, the Book of Numbers and the Book of Deuteronomy.)
Another example is the foundation myth of the Muslims.
The major elements of the Muslims' foundation myth are well known. A fellow named Muhammad, born in Mecca circa 570, is orphaned at an early age and is raised in Mecca by two of his relatives -- first by one of his grandfathers, later by one of his uncles. Muhammad becomes a trader and takes employment with a widow, Khadijah, who runs a trading enterprise. Eventually he marries her. At some time around 610, Muhammad goes into a secluded cave and meets an angel, Gabriel, who tells Muhammad that he has been chosen to become a prophet, a messenger of Allah. Over the next 22 years or so, Gabriel relays messages from Allah to Muhammad. At some point, Muhammad begins to preach Allah's messages, and he acquires some followers. These become the first devotees of Islam, even though Islam is still taking shape and hasn't yet acquired its holy book, the Koran. Muhammad's followers memorize his utterances, and at least some of the followers preserve the utterances as written records. Later, these records are combined to form the Koran.
Comparing the Muslim Myth with History Islam is an offshoot of Judaism. Within its Judaic framework it includes various doctrines that were derived from a form of Christianity that flourished in Arabia some 1,300 years ago, and it also includes doctrines that seem to be novel -- i.e., that seem not to be based on Jewish or Christian precursors.
Historical information about how Islam originated is sparse. Here is a summary, based chiefly on four publications [note 15] that have been issued during the past seven years or so:
The earliest adherents to the religion that eventually would become Islam were evidently people who accepted the opening books of the Hebrew Bible but didn't accept the rest of Jewish scripture. These people -- let us call them proto-Muslims -- considered themselves to be descendants of three mythical figures who appear in the Book of Genesis: Abraham, Abraham's consort Hagar, and their son Ishmael. (The character Abraham is the Hebrews' legendary progenitor. Much of the Book of Genesis is given to tales about him and his offspring.)
No student will acquire any of that information by reading Unit 2 of Medieval World because all of that information has been excluded by TCI's writers and the Muslim puppet-masters who control them. No student will apprehend how little is known about the origins of Islam because TCI's writers and their Muslim masters -- by presenting Muslim fables as facts -- have led students to believe that the origins of Islam and the origins of the Koran are well understood.
Now let me look closely at Unit 2 and consider its chapters in order.
Chapter 7 Titled "The Geography of the Arabian Peninsula," chapter 7 is largely valid, is rather innocuous, and seems to contain only one piece of trickery -- the statement that "The founder of Islam, Muhammad, came from Makkah [Mecca], an ancient holy place and trading center. . . ." [note 16]. As I have said, the claim that Muhammad was a native of Mecca isn't supported by evidence. It comes from the realm of myth, not from history.
Chapter 8 Chapter 8 is called "The Prophet Muhammad." A catalogue of all the lies, selective omissions, distortions, evasions and other deceitful devices that are employed in chapter 8 would be unbearably tedious to compile and unbearably tedious to read. Let these examples suffice:
Page 83 TCI's writers restate the claim that Muhammad was a native of Mecca, and then they say:
According to Arab and Muslim tradition, many centuries before Muhammad was born, it was here [i.e., at Mecca] that God tested the faith of the prophet Abraham by commanding that he leave his wife Hagar and baby son Ishmael in a desolate valley."
Setting aside the question of who "God" may be, I point out that, in the quoted passage, TCI writers are deceiving students by using the "According to" trick. Let me explain this:
When a malicious writer of a "history" schoolbook decides to delude the students who will read his material, he usually does this in a straightforward way: He writes a lie -- he writes something that is plainly and simply false. Occasionally, however, such a writer chooses to create a delusion by using an "According to" statement that is literally accurate but in every other way is perverse and deceitful. The writer accurately states that "According to" some specified source, a particular event occurred -- but he doesn't tell that the specified source has no standing as a record of history, or that the source's claim has no standing in the realm of historical scholarship. By using this technique, which is merely another way to tell a lie, the malicious writer seeks to impel students to accept a pseudohistorical fancy as a historical fact.
In the case at hand, the pseudohistorical fancy is a Muslim religious tale. If TCI's writers were at all honest, they would have made clear that the "Arab and Muslim tradition" about Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael is a myth -- not history.
They also would have told that Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael are mythical figures that the Muslims have borrowed from Judaism and from the Book of Genesis. It isn't surprising that TCI's writers and their Muslim masters have omitted this information. Muslim propagandists don't like to acknowledge Islam's mythological debt to Judaism.
Page 83 "According to Arab and Muslim tradition, . . . Abraham built a house of worship called the Ka'ba."
No! In Muslim lore, the figure who builds the Ka'ba is Adam, the first man. Like Abraham, Adam is a character whom the Muslims have imported into Islam from the Hebrew Bible's Book of Genesis. By falsely claiming that Muslims attribute the building of the Ka'ba to Abraham, TCI's writers have avoided the need to mention Adam at all -- and they again have avoided acknowledging Islam's mythological debt to Judaism. (As it happens, there really is a connection in Muslim lore between the Ka'ba and Abraham, even if the connection has been hidden by TCI's writers: Muslims have a series of stories in which the Ka'ba, originally built by Adam, later is rebuilt by a succession of figures, one of whom is Abraham [note 17].)
Page 83 "Muhammad was living in Makkah when he experienced his own call to prophethood."
That isn't history, and it cannot be history. A supernaturalistic claim (in this case, a claim about a "call to prophethood") cannot be tested against evidence and cannot be supported or verified by evidence.
Page 83 "Like Abraham, [Muhammad] proclaimed belief in a single God."
Humbug! Muslim propagandists persistently describe Abraham as a monotheist, but their description is false. The Book of Genesis doesn't portray Abraham as a monotheist and doesn't provide any support for attempts to turn him into one. The Hebrew Bible's first suggestions of monotheism occur not in the Book of Genesis but in the Book of Exodus. They are linked not to Abraham but to Moses, the latter book's hero.
Page 85 Now TCI's writers start to tell about Muhammad all over again, starting with another repetition of their claim about his birthplace: "Around 570 C.E., a boy named Muhammad was born in Makkah" [note 18]. This line introduces a six-paragraph passage in which the writers present a foundation-myth narrative of Muhammad's early life, complete with the grandfather, the uncle, and so on.
Page 86 Here we read a long passage about Muhammad's adventure in the cave:
In about 610 C.E., Muhammad went to pray in a cave in the mountains. It was there that he received the call to be a prophet, or messenger of God, whom the Arabs called Allah.
That passage consists entirely of supernaturalism and superstition. It contains no history at all.
Now please read that Muhammad-in-the-cave passage again, and notice the line about creation from coagulated blood. TCI's writers conceal the fact that this statement about the creation of man is contradicted by other claims that appear in Islamic scripture. In sura 6 of the Koran, for example, we read that man was made from clay; and in sura 18 we read that man was made "from dust, then from a drop." Indeed, Muslim lore is laden with contradictions -- but Muslim propagandists avoid acknowledging them, and no student will learn about any of them by reading Medieval World.
Page 86 To reinforce the notion that the tale of Muhammad's adventure in the cave is an account of history, page 86 displays a photograph which shows some large stones and some stone steps, and which carries this caption: "The Hira Cave is where Muhammad was first visited by the angel Gabriel." This reminds me of the joke about the fellow who offered photographic proof that he had seen a Martian spaceship: He showed a photo of the chair in which he had been sitting when the Martian vehicle flew into view.
Page 86 "The faith of Islam is based on monotheism, or belief in a single god. This God, Muhammad taught, was the same God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus."
Ah, yes -- Jesus! Here in America, where about 80% of the adult population consists of persons who call themselves Christians, Muslim propagandists invariably put forth distorted claims that link Islam with Jesus of Nazareth. It is true that Muslim lore includes a figure whom Muslims equate with Jesus of Nazareth, and whom they designate by an Arabic name that commonly is transliterated into English as Isa or 'Isa -- but there are vast differences between this Muslim version of Jesus and the Jesus envisioned by most Christians. To convey what I mean by "vast differences," I offer these examples of how Muslims view Isa:
A detailed article about the Muslim Jesus [note 19] can be found at http://answering-islam.org.uk/Intro/islamic_jesus.html on the Web. After studying it, my readers will understand this: Any unexplained, unqualified claim that Jesus is a figure shared by Islam and Christianity is simply a lie. Any unexplained, casual claim that Jesus is revered by Muslims and Christians alike is an exercise in deceit.
Page 86 Here the TCI writers recite a foundation-myth account of the genesis of the Koran:
Though Muhammad apparently could neither read nor write, he said that the messages from Gabriel were imprinted on his mind and heart. His followers also memorized them. Eventually, some followers wrote down these words and collected them in the Qur'an (also spelled Koran), the holy book of Islam.
That unverifiable and fantastic stuff isn't history, but it is suitable for duping young students because it is simplistic, pat and vague. When were Muhammad's utterances written down? -- during his lifetime or afterward? And when were his written-down utterances turned into the Koran? -- during his lifetime or afterward? TCI's writers refuse to say anything about those matters, although they later will imply (on page 89) that the Koran was completed before Muhammad died.
Page 87 "The Qur'an tells the story of the Night Journey in which a winged horse took Muhammad to Jerusalem. There he met and prayed with earlier prophets, like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. The horse then guided Muhammad through the seven levels of heaven, and Muhammad met God."
No, the Koran does not tell the story of Muhammad's trip on the flying horse. The flying-horse myth is an extra-Koranic invention, and the notion that it appears in the Koran is a metamyth -- i.e., a myth about a myth [note 20].
Page 88 "Muslims [at Medina] pledged to be loyal and helpful to each other. . . . Muhammad also asked his followers to respect Christians and Jews. Like Muslims, these 'People of the Book' believed in one God."
That is deceitful rubbish. In sura 5, verse 51 of the Koran, the book that allegedly conveys Muhammad's utterances, we read: "O believers, do not hold Jews and Christians as your allies. They are allies of one another; and anyone who makes them his friends is surely one of them; and God does not guide the unjust." Moreover, the Koran explicitly says (in sura 9, verse 29) that Jews and Christians must be attacked and subjugated: "Fight those people of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, who do not prohibit what God and His Apostle [i.e., Muhammad] have forbidden, nor accept divine law, until all of them pay protective tax in submission."
Page 88 "In March 632, Muhammad led his final pilgrimage. . . . Shortly after his return to Madinah, Muhammad died."
Please remember that date, 632, as we read further.
Page 89 "[After Muhammad died] Abu Bakr became the first caliph, or Muslim ruler. He and the three leaders who followed him came to be known as the 'rightly guided' caliphs. These caliphs followed the Qur'an and the example of Muhammad."
Let us examine that claim. If Abu Bakr "followed the Qur'an" when he succeeded Muhammad, then the Koran must have been compiled before Muhammad died -- and if Muhammad died in 632, then the Koran must have been compiled before or during that year. There is no evidence, however, to suggest that the Koran existed, in any form, in 632 [note 21].
Page 89 We now read that Abu Bakr died in 634, that he was succeeded by a caliph named Umar, and that
[Umar] let Jews and Christians worship as they liked. In Egypt, treaties allowed for freedom of worship in exchange for the payment of tribute. Later, Muslims completed similar treaties with the Nubians, . . . .
Here we have an absurdity combined with a whitewash-job. The absurdity is the claim that subjugated Christians and subjugated Jews enjoyed "freedom of worship," even though they were not allowed to practice their religions unless they paid money for the privilege of doing so. The whitewash-job is the hiding of all the other restrictions and requirements that Muslims imposed on subjugated people who didn't follow Islam.
Page 90 The last section of chapter 8 (excepting the Chapter Summary) appears on page 90 and is titled "The Umayyad Dynasty." The narrative in this section spans the years from 661 through 732 [note 22]. Please remember that date, 732, as we turn to chapter 9.
Chapter 9 Chapter 9, "The Teachings of Islam," begins thus:
In Chapter 8, you learned about the prophet Muhammad and the early spread of Islam. Now you will take a closer look at the Islamic faith.
Whoa! Almost thirteen centuries have vanished! The writers of Medieval World have hopped all the way from 732 to the present. They have hopped all the way to what students might encounter in "any city in a Muslim country today." What are the TCI writers up to?
The answer is: They are launching a deliberately confused, confusing chapter that is set in the present but is spiked with pseudohistorical flashbacks to the past. This scheme -- this alternation between present and past -- helps to create the confusion that the writers have sought. Let us read:
Page 94 "Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have much in common."
Let us ignore the fact that it is an overstatement to say that those three religions have "much" in common. What is really important here is that TCI's writers shun the question that must occur to any alert student: Why do Judaism, Christianity and Islam have anything in common? In other words, how can we explain their sharing any features at all? The explanation lies, of course, in the history of Islam: Islam arose as a derivative of Judaism, and it later absorbed material from Christianity. But students won't learn this from Medieval World because TCI's writers say nothing -- exactly nothing -- about how Islam's resemblances to Judaism and Christianity originated. In Medieval World, those resemblances seem to be mere accidents or coincidences.
Page 94 "Muslims believe that all three religions [Judaism, Christianity and Islam] worship the same God."
Here the TCI writers are reinforcing a notion that they introduced on page 86 -- the notion that the god of Islam is identical with the god of Judaism and Christianity. On page 86 this was something that "Muhammad taught." Now it something that "Muslims believe." To evaluate this notion, students would have to know, and would have to ask questions about, some of the things that the god of Islam has done. The students cannot do this, of course, because TCI's writers and their Muslim masters have deprived the students of all the information that might be relevant here. Let me take the students' place and ask, on their behalf, a few questions about what "Muslims believe":
I have an editorial question too: Why do TCI's writers tell us what "Muslims believe" -- but not what Jews or Christians believe -- about this matter of a shared god? Students will wonder whether Jews and Christians subscribe to the claim that the Muslim god is identical with the god of the Jews and the god of the Christians, but TCI's writers say nothing about Jewish or Christians opinions. Why is the Muslim view important while views held by Jews and Christians are unworthy of notice?
I hope that TCI's writers, if they encounter this report, will send me their answers to the questions that I have posed.
Page 95 "Through the Qur'an, God describes his laws and moral teachings, or the 'straight path.' "
TCI's writers again have disguised untestable, supernaturalistic woo-woo as fact.
Page 95 In a flashback to the 7th century, the TCI puppets tell (again) that Muhammad's followers memorized his utterances, and that the utterances were written down. The puppets now attribute the writing-down to "scribes," but they refuse (again) to give any answers to these obvious questions: When did the writing-down take place? -- during Muhammad's lifetime or afterward? And when were the written-down utterances turned into the Koran? -- during Muhammad's lifetime or afterward?
Page 95 Here comes another flashback:
In about 651 C.E., Caliph Uthman [the successor to Umar] established an official edition of the Qur'an. He destroyed other versions. The Qur'an used today has not changed since then.
That stuff about Uthman's "official edition" projects the inescapable implication that multiple versions of the Koran existed by 651 or so (roughly twenty years after the alleged date of Muhammad's death). In truth, there is no evidence to suggest that even one version of the Koran existed in 651 -- and the claim that "The Qur'an used today has not changed since then" is ridiculous on its face.
Page 95 Now we get a flashback to the alleged origins of the hadith, which are canonized stories about things that Muhammad supposedly said and did:
Within 200 years after Muhammad's death, thousands of reports about the prophet had traveled throughout Muslim lands. Scholars looked into each story. They placed the stories they could verify into collections.
The "stories they could verify"? How, pray tell, did those so-called scholars "verify" stories that had been originated by people long dead -- stories that had mutated again and again, as they were told and retold, during a period of 200 years?
Page 95 Continuing their tale of the hadith, TCI's writers say:
Called hadith (tradition), these accounts provided written evidence of Muhammad's Sunnah as seen in his words and deeds. They continue to have this role today.
What a spectacle! The TCI writers' contempt for students evidently has no limits. Hearsay doesn't become "written evidence" merely because someone jots it down on a piece of paper -- and according to the TCI writers' own narrative, the hadith are nothing more than collections of hearsay. Even if the hadith were carved in stone, they still would be nothing more than collections of hearsay, and they still wouldn't constitute evidence of anything.
Given the gross dishonesty of TCI's writers, I find it perversely appropriate that, in all of chapter 9, the only passage which includes the word "evidence" is a lie. I find it perversely appropriate that the only occurrence of the word "evidence" comes in a passage which has been calculated to deceive students and to mock the very concept of evidence.
After their flashback to the concocting of the hadith, TCI's writers return to the present day and say that "The most basic acts of worship for Muslims are called the Five Pillars of Faith." Then they devote five full pages -- pages 96 through 100 -- to telling about the "pillars," i.e., shahadah (the profession of faith), salat (prayer), zakat (the giving of alms), siyam (fasting) and hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca). This material on on pages 96 through 100 is set in the present, is written with present-tense verbs, and has three noteworthy properties:
I cannot leave chapter 9 without returning to its opening page and to the TCI writers' claim that, during a visit to any city in a Muslim country, students "would find that Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork." There, in only a few words, the TCI writers and their Muslim masters provide two blazing demonstrations of their zeal for bamboozling young students: They convey a false "fact" about Muslims, and they teach students to embrace a logical fallacy.
The false "fact" is the notion that Muslims don't drink alcohol or eat pork. (Here is the truth: Islam formally prohibits the consumption of alcohol and pork, and many Muslims observe these restrictions -- but other Muslims do not.) The logical fallacy is the notion that the students, by roaming through a city for a while and making some observations, would gain a perfect knowledge of how all Muslims behave at all times. Let me elaborate:
The statement that "Muslims do not drink alcohol or eat pork" is a universal negative, equivalent to the more formal statement "No Muslim drinks alcohol or eats pork at any time." As it happens, a universal negative cannot be established by any finite number of observations, no matter how large the number of observations may be.
Suppose that I have visited Chicago for a week (or a month or a year), and suppose that I haven't seen any Chicagoan wearing a dickey. Can I conclude that Chicagoans never wear dickeys? Can I infer that no Chicagoan ever wears a dickey, at any time? Of course not -- because I don't know whether there are Chicagoans who wear dickeys but who escaped my notice, and I don't know whether any Chicagoans donned dickeys after I made my observations. Obviously, the inference that no Chicagoan wears a dickey at any time would be unwarranted and fallacious.
TCI's writers are teaching students to embrace that kind of fallacious reasoning.
Chapter 10 Chapter 10 is titled "Contributions of Muslims to World Civilization." If my readers are familiar with the code-words that are used in trashy schoolbooks, they will immediately grasp the import of that word "contributions." It signals that the TCI writers and their Muslim masters are ready to stage a circus of glorification.
Predictably, the "contributions" claims in chapter 10 include falsehoods, gross distortions, and deep absurdities. Here are some examples:
Chapter 11 Chapter 11, "From the Crusades to New Muslim Empires," has eight sections (excluding the Chapter Summary). In six of those sections, TCI's writers pretend to tell about the crusades -- but their material is a load of Muslim claptrap, much like the "history" of the crusades that appears in other American schoolbooks which have been tailored to gratify Islamists.
Instructional materials sold by American publishers often depict the crusades as criminal enterprises and the crusaders as imperialists and thugs. These images of the crusades and the crusaders reflect the work of Muslim propagandists. Muslim pressure groups have induced the writers of various schoolbooks and curriculum manuals to teach American students that the crusades were malicious undertakings in which Christian aggressors attacked peaceful Muslims and tried to seize territory that properly belonged to such Muslim sweethearts as the Seljuk Turks.
In some schoolbooks and teachers' manuals, the passages of Muslim propaganda about the crusades are so inept and heavy-handed that they seem comical, as two examples will show:
The material about the crusades in Medieval World is, as I have said, another load of Muslim claptrap, and it diverges widely and often from anything that could be called history. I shall describe it here at some length, conveying information that was supplied to Janie White by the historian Thomas F. Madden.
Thomas F. Madden is a professor of history at Saint Louis University (in St. Louis, Missouri), a specialist in the history of the crusades, a coauthor of The Fourth Crusade: The Conquest of Constantinople (issued in 1997 by the University of Pennsylvania Press), the author of A Concise History of the Crusades (issued in 1999 by Rowman and Littlefield), and the author of The New Concise History of the Crusades (issued in 2005 by the same publisher). Janie White sent him copies of the Medieval World pages on which TCI's writers purport to tell about the crusades, and Madden responded to her by sending a partial analysis of the TCI writers' narratives.
Madden's analysis wasn't intended to be comprehensive or exhaustive, but it exposed many of the falsehoods and vicious distortions that TCI's writers have presented to students. Let me cite some items from his report:
Madden begins by remarking that the treatment of the crusades in Medieval World displays a great many errors, and he observes that TCI's writers sometimes seem to be making things up. Then he says:
The choice of words [used by TCI's writers] is often surprising. When the Seljuks or other Muslim groups attack Christian peoples, kill them, and take their lands it is referred to as "building" an empire. Christian attempts to restore those lands are referred to as "violent attacks" or "massacres."
Madden then turns to analyzing some specific passages and assertions that caught his eye as he read the Medieval World pages:
Page 120 In accounting for the genesis of the crusades, TCI's writers assert that European Christians reacted with fear to the expanding power of the Seljuks -- "[Christians in Europe] feared for the safety and property of Christians living in the east," and "Christians feared they would no longer be able to visit Jerusalem and other sacred sites in the Holy Land," and "this fear helped pave the way for the crusades."
Such statements, Madden says, suggest that the crusades originated because European Christians were paranoid and were driven by their fear of things that might happen in the future. But in fact, Madden explains, these things already had happened -- indeed they had been happening for many years. "The crusades were a belated response to these events," Madden writes. "Fear had nothing to do with it."
Page 121 The TCI writers tell that by 1095 the Seljuks had advanced to within 100 miles of the capital of the Byzantine Empire, Constantinople, and that the Byzantine emperor appealed to Pope Urban II for help in thwarting the Seljuks' territorial ambitions. Then the writers say:
The pope called nobles and church leaders to a council in Clermont, France. There he called for a crusade to drive the Muslims back and reclaim Jerusalem. He promised entry to heaven to all who joined the fight.
Madden comments: "It is incorrect to say that the pope 'promised entry to heaven to all who joined the fight.' " We do not know, Madden says, what the pope promised, but in no medieval account does he promise automatic admittance to heaven. He may have promised the standard indulgence that was associated with a pilgrimage, but this would only have provided remission of the temporal penalties for sins. By itself, such an indulgence couldn't have sufficed to enable a crusader to gain a free entry into heaven.
Page 121 "Throughout the crusades," TCI's writers declare, "Christian faith inspired many to put on the red cross worn by crusaders."
Madden explains that the red cross was worn by the Templars. Other crusaders wore crosses of different colors, and the color of each man's cross usually indicated his native land.
Page 121 TCI's writers claim that some people joined the crusades because they hoped to acquire wealth: "Merchants saw the chance to earn money through trade. Younger sons of nobles hoped to gain estates in the Holy Land."
Madden remarks that four decades of scholarship have discredited the 19th-century idea that merchants and young noblemen took the cross for gain.
Page 121 The TCI writers assert that "Four nobles led the First Crusade."
Not true, Madden says. There were many more leaders than that.
Page 121 In their account of the First Crusade, the TCI writers make these claims:
[In June 1099] the crusaders surrounded Jerusalem and scaled the city walls. In July 1099, the city surrendered. The victorious crusaders massacred Muslims and Jews throughout the city. The survivors were sold into slavery.
Madden raises several objections to that passage. First, the defenders of Jerusalem didn't surrender. (If they had yielded, they could have sued for terms; but they didn't yield, and their city was taken by force.) Second, the TCI writers' claim that the victorious Christians "massacred" Jerusalem's Muslims and Jews is false. And third, the inhabitants of Jerusalem who survived the capture of their city weren't sold into slavery: Many of them were allowed to go free, and others were ransomed to their relatives. Madden points out that the selling of captives into slavery was a custom practiced by Muslims, not by Christians.
Page 122 In their short passage about the Second Crusade, the TCI writers say that Christians set out to take Edessa, and that they incidentally mounted an attack on Damascus:
In 1144, Muslims captured Edessa, the capital of the northernmost crusader kingdom. Christians answered by mounting the Second Crusade.
Here too, Madden raises several objections. First, Damascus was not "on the way to Edessa." Next, the crusaders who attacked Damascus had already abandoned the idea of recapturing Edessa. Next, the Muslims who intended to help the defenders of Damascus came from Aleppo, not Edessa -- and they did not "beat back the crusaders." Long before those Muslim troops arrived at Damascus, the crusaders had concluded that their own position was untenable.
Page 122 In their account of the Third Crusade, the TCI writers tell that Salah-al-Din (Saladin) captured Jerusalem in 1187 and that he "did not kill his prisoners, as the crusaders had done."
Madden discloses what TCI's writers have concealed: Saladin had planned to kill the entire population -- but Jerusalem's defenders, by threatening to destroy the Muslim holy sites that lay within the city, forced Saladin to allow them to surrender peacefully.
Page 122 TCI's writers give this account of the capture of Acre by crusaders under the command of Richard the Lionheart:
In 1191, Richard's army forced the surrender of the Palestinian town of Acre. Afterward, arrangements were made between the two sides to exchange prisoners. After waiting for a time, Richard felt that Salah al-Din was taking too long to meet his end of the bargain. Growing impatient, he ordered his men to kill all 2,700 of his Muslim prisoners.
Madden refutes the TCI writers' claim that Richard ordered the killing of those 2,700 Muslims because he "felt" that Saladin was taking too long to act on their agreement. Feelings had nothing to do with it, Madden explains: Saladin had missed the agreed-upon deadline for the exchanging of prisoners, and Richard suspected (probably rightly) that Saladin was stalling for time so that he could raise more troops.
Madden also makes this observation: TCI's writers tell that Richard's men massacred 2,700 Muslim soldiers at Acre in 1191, but the writers do not tell that Saladin's men had massacred more than 5,000 Christian prisoners after the Battle of Hattin, in 1187.
Page 122 TCI's writers claim that "Richard then fought his way toward Jerusalem, but his army was not strong enough to attack the city."
That isn't true, Madden says. Richard's army was strong enough to take Jerusalem, but the Christians would not have been able to maintain an adequate garrison -- a garrison strong enough to hold the city indefinitely -- after Richard's army went home.
Page 122 In a passage labeled "Later Crusades," the TCI writers say:
Some crusades were popular movements of poor people rather than organized military campaigns. In 1212, for example, tens of thousands of peasant children from France and Germany marched in a "Children's Crusade." Few, if any, ever reached the Holy Land. Some made it as far as European port cities, only to be sold into slavery by merchants. Many disappeared without a trace.
That material, Madden says, is "wretchedly confused" and seems to have come from an old dime-store publication. The so-called Children's Crusade Madden explains, was neither a crusade nor an expedition of children. It acquired its misleading name because medieval writers used the term pueri (the Latin word for boys) in referring to members of the lower classes, and some 18th-century readers of medieval accounts took pueri literally. In fact, the "Children's Crusade" was a mass movement of adults, mostly poor, with some adolescents and a few children thrown in. The claim that merchants in Marseilles sold these people into slavery is a very late embellishment, and no historian accepts it as history.
Page 124 In a section titled "Christians and the Crusades," a subsection called "Impact on Christians as a Group" includes these claims:
The crusades brought many economic changes to Europe. Crusaders needed a way to pay for supplies. Their need increased the use of money in Europe. Some knights began performing banking functions, such as making loans or investments. Kings started tax systems to raise funds for crusades.
Madden remarks that he has no idea of where TCI's writers got that material, but they certainly didn't get it from any scholarly history written in the last century. Then he writes: "The suggestion that the European economy developed liquid capital, banking, and taxation because of the demands of the crusades is laughable. Those elements existed before the crusades. It was the increase in European prosperity that made the crusades possible in the first place."
Furthermore, Madden tells, most historians today hold that the crusades had a negative impact on the European economy because they required enormous outlays of capital but produced virtually no returns. And it is absurd, Madden says, to suggest that monarchs gained power because their nobles left home to fight in crusades. Even a seventh-grade student will notice that the kings, too, left home: Most of the crusades described in TCI's book were led by kings.
Page 124 TCI's writers say that Richard the Lionheart spent most of his reign on crusade.
Madden replies: "The Third Crusade was 1189-1192. Richard's reign was 1189-1199. Do the math."
Page 126 At the start of a section headlined "Jews and the Crusades," TCI's writers declare:
The violence unleashed by the crusades caused great suffering for Jews. Crusaders in the Holy Land slaughtered Jews as well as Muslims. Other Jews became slaves.
That passage, Madden says, suggests that crusaders regularly practiced the slaughtering and enslaving of Jews, yet TCI's writers do not cite any cases in point. Madden tells that during an isolated incident that occurred in 1099, crusaders killed some Jews whom they had captured -- but even in that instance, most of the Jewish captives were released and went to live in Ascalon. Madden then writes: "So when did all this slaughtering and enslaving happen? (Short answer: It didn't.)"
Page 126 Later in the section on "Jews and the Crusades," TCI's writers say:
During the First Crusade, European Jews suffered a series of violent persecutions. As crusaders crossed northern France and Germany, some of them murdered whole communities of Jews. They destroyed synagogues and holy books. They looted homes and businesses. Some crusaders tortured Jews to make them accept Christianity.
The TCI writers' narrative, Madden says, creates the false impression that killing Jews was a regular part of crusading. Then Madden asks these questions: Shouldn't the TCI writers have noted that the killing of Jews was forbidden by church law, and that persons who violated that proscription were considered criminals? And shouldn't the writers have described how the bishops of European cities tried to save the lives of Jews who were in danger of being murdered? "As it stands," Madden observes, "this section is highly misleading."
Madden concludes by remarking that the treatment of the crusades in Medieval World contains many more defects than he has cited in his analysis.
Part 5 A TCI Officer's Refusal to Disclose Sources
On 15 February 2005 I sent an e-mail message to Lobdell, with a copy to Bower [note 26], and I made two requests:
1. In chapter 8 of The Medieval World and Beyond, the first six sections -- 8.1 ("Introduction") through 8.6 ("From the Migration to Madinah to the End of His Life") -- purport to cover the early life of Muhammad, the origins of the Koran, and the origins of Islam. Please identify for me the source or sources from which you and Bert Bower derived the material that is set forth in those sections.
Lobdell replied to me on 18 February. He refused my requests, and he said: "Unless required by a public agency, as a company policy we do not share specific source information for discreet [sic] passages."
Part 6 The Workbook That Accompanies Medieval World
The first feature is the absence of any exercise that calls for critical thinking about claims. During my own reading of the Notebook, I haven't noticed any exercise in which students are required to consider how a claim, put forth as an item of history, can be evaluated. Nor have I seen any exercise in which students are required to describe the kinds of evidence that they might demand before deciding whether a claim, put forth as an item of history, merits acceptance. Nor have I seen any exercise which acknowledges, in any way, that a claim which has been put forth as an item of history may be false and, indeed, may be an outright lie.
The second noteworthy feature of the Notebook is a bizarre exercise which leads students to discern that Muhammad was the most influential person who ever has lived! This exercise, titled "Preview 8," is one of various activities related to Unit 2 of the Medieval World textbook. There are other "Preview" items distributed throughout the Notebook, but none of the others bears any resemblance to "Preview 8."
In performing the "Preview 8" exercise, each student must read "a list of people that many historians have named as being very influential in the history of the world"; then the student must offer an opinion about which of the listed persons was the "most influential" of all. The names on the list are Buddha, Julius Caesar, Albert Einstein, Queen Elizabeth I, Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mozart, Muhammad, and Rosa Parks.
A sophisticated reader will immediately notice three properties of this exercise:
Students in the 7th grade, however, are not sophisticated, and very few 7th-graders understand the distinction between the historical Jesus and the literary Jesus, or the distinction between the historical Muhammad and the literary Muhammad. On the other hand, most 7th-graders will readily grasp that they are supposed to pick Muhammad as the winner of the "most influential" contest. TCI's writers and their Muslim masters have rigged the contest, heavily, to favor this result.
Muhammad enjoys an obvious advantage because "Preview 8" is linked to Unit 2, the textbook's unit about Islam -- and this immediately signals to students that they are expected to designate Muhammad as Mr. Influential. Muhammad enjoys other advantages as well, because the other contestants are competing under crushing handicaps. Buddha surely will lose, for the students haven't encountered him yet: The first acknowledgment of Buddhism in Medieval World will come in Unit 4, "Imperial China." Good Queen Bess will lose, too: The students won't encounter her until they reach Unit 7, "Europe's Renaissance and Reformation." Julius Caesar, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Mozart and Rosa Parks certainly will lose because Medieval World, according to its index, doesn't tell anything, anywhere, about any of them.
That leaves Jesus. Jesus is mentioned several times in Medieval World, though all of the mentionings occur in Unit 2, where he is cast as a subsidiary character in Muslim lore -- one of Muhammad's prophetic predecessors. (See, above, my accounts of how Jesus turns up in chapters 8 and 9 of TCI's book.) Even so, Jesus will be a formidable contestant because many students will have encountered him in other contexts. These students will know that Jesus isn't merely a minor attraction in Islam's parade of prophets, they will know that he is an important religious figure in his own right, and they may be tempted to give him the prize for influence -- so TCI's writers have provided the classroom teacher with some rhetorical tactics for helping students to see that the prize properly belongs to Muhammad.
These tactics are set forth in Lesson Guide 1, a pedagogic manual that TCI sells with Medieval World. On page 177 of Lesson Guide 1, TCI's writers direct the teacher to tell students that Muhammad already has been cited as history's most influential person in a book written by one Michael Hart (whoever that may be). Then the writers give the teacher this instruction:
After students have shared their ideas, say, Some people think Muhammad was the most influential person in history. If you don't know much about him, you may not have considered him. Explain that Muhammad influenced the world in many ways. He and his followers created an empire that stretched from Spain to India. Today, one of every five people worldwide are followers of Islam, the religion he followed . . . .
Anyone who is worthy of the title "teacher" will refuse to engage in such bald manipulation of students -- just as anyone who is worthy of the title "history teacher" will refuse to have anything to do with Medieval World.
Part 7 Constitutional Matters
It is equally clear that the Scottsdale Unified School District, by compelling students at the Mohave Middle School to endure instruction based on Unit 2 of TCI's book Medieval World, has effected a violation of the Constitution of the State of Arizona. In its Article 2, Section 12, Arizona's Constitution explicitly prohibits the application of public money "to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or to the support of any religious establishment."
Part 8 "C.E."
As many of my readers will know, "C.E." is an abbreviation that some people use as a substitute for the conventional English datemark "A.D." "A.D." stands for Anno Domini, a Latin phrase meaning "in the year of the Lord." "C.E." stands for "Common Era." The purpose of substituting "C.E." for "A.D." is to suppress a classic manifestation of the importance of Christianity and Christian scholarship in the history of the world [note 28].
The people who want to do this have another abbreviation -- "B.C.E." -- which they substitute for the customary English datemark "B.C." "B.C." stands for "Before Christ." "B.C.E." stands for "Before the Common Era."
"C.E." and "B.C.E" were devised decades ago, but they didn't gain much popularity until 1990 or so.
Because Medieval World covers a period that didn't begin until A.D. 476 -- long after the conventional date that has been assigned to the birth of Christ -- TCI's writers didn't have to use any datemarks at all. Yet they have littered their text with wholly pointless, wholly gratuitous "C.E." abbreviations.
At the same time, they have flatly refused to explain what "C.E." signifies, and they have refused to place "C.E." in any historical context. To see what I mean, turn to page 4 of Medieval World. There the terms "C.E." and "B.C.E." are mentioned and dispatched in a single sentence that is utterly inane and is enclosed in parentheses:
The period of time we call medieval began with the fall of the Roman Empire and lasted until about 1500 C.E. (C.E. means Common Era, and B.C.E. means Before the Common Era).
The TCI writers have refused to answer the questions that will occur to any alert student: When did the Common Era begin? Why did it begin then? When did the Common Era end? Why was it common? Was the previous era -- "Before the Common Era" -- an uncommon era? If it was uncommon, what made it so? If it was uncommon, why isn't it called the Uncommon Era instead of "Before the Common Era"? And so forth.
I think I know why the writers have refused to address those questions: To do so, they would have had to disclose that the so-called Common Era began 2005 years ago, in the year that once was thought to have included the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. This disclosure, however, would have entirely defeated the writers' purposes -- viz., to indoctrinate students into the use of "C.E.," and to conceal the fact that historical time is reckoned with respect to Jesus's putative birth-date. So TCI's writers have run away and have left the student with nothing but the inane sentence that I have quoted. I say again: The TCI writers' contempt for students seems to have no limits.
Part 9 Presentations at the Mohave School by Agents of an Islamic Organization
Now I must note another mechanism that some Muslim pressure groups employ: They dispatch agents who, while posing as experts on the history and content of Islam, deliver propaganda to students and teachers during oral presentations. Sometimes these agents appear as guest speakers in classrooms, where they indoctrinate students directly. In other instances, they stage phony "teacher-training workshops" or "seminars" in which they deliver propaganda to teachers; then they rely on the teachers to transfer the propaganda to students [note 29].
On 1 February 2005, students in the 7th-grade social-studies course at the Mohave Middle School heard presentations by two agents of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona (ISBA), an organization affiliated with the Islamic Networks Group [note 30].
Far more students were taking the 7th-grade social-studies course than could be accommodated in one classroom, so the course was divided into several sections that convened at various times during the school day. One or the other of the ISBA agents made a presentation to students in each section.
There is no evident way to find out what went on during any of those presentations. One person who has tried to find out is Janie White, whose daughter, Rachel, took the social-studies course in a section administered by a teacher named Molly Hewlett. Janie White has sought to learn whether any functionary of the Scottsdale Unified School District made or possesses a recording of the presentation that Rachel attended, but all of her inquiries have been ignored or deflected. Both Molly Hewlett and the District's superintendent, John Baracy, have stonewalled and have refused to tell Janie White whether any such recording exists [note 31].
On 1 April 2005, I talked with Rachel White and learned a little about the presentation that she had witnessed in her section of the course. She told me that the ISBA agent who addressed that section was a woman named Azra Hussain, and that Azra Hussain had recited and translated phrases from Muslim prayers, had deplored the exclusion of praying from public-school activities, had claimed that Islam was a religion of peace, and had claimed that Jesus was connected with Islam and Muhammad [note 32].
I asked Rachel whether, during the presentation, a knowledgeable adult was present to monitor the ISBA agent's statements and to challenge any falsehoods, distortions or sectarian claims that the agent might have dispensed. No, Rachel said. No such adult was present.
William J. Bennetta is a professional editor, a fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, the president of The Textbook League, and the editor of The Textbook Letter. He writes often about the propagation of quackery, false "science" and false "history" in schoolbooks.