There are so many unsubstantiated claims about Mexican Americans in this book [including]…
There’s the assertion that Chicanos, as some Mexican Americans call themselves, are anti-education and anti-English…
The book goes on to claim that Chicanos want to destroy western civilization…
The book also blames Mexican Americans for their historically low educational attainment and overall lack of economic prosperity by comparing them unfavorably to Cuban Americans, “whose heritage promotes a positive view of business and advancement”…
Then there’s the section in Mexican-American Heritage that says claims of Anglo-American land grabbing from Mexicans during the late 19th century are largely exaggerated…
Editorial addendum from EA News: Page 289 of the proposed textbook has a rather curious definition of socialism. Excerpted portions include: “A way of organizing society based on collective ownership of production… causing individuals to become dependent on the state for all things… eliminates the individual’s opportunity to provide for oneself”.
To move from a factual definition to wild, unsubstantiated conclusions about the subject is a type of logical fallacy often used in propaganda. See here and here for a helpful list of propaganda techniques and how to identify them.
After activists demanded last year that Mexican American studies be included in Texas’ public school curriculum, the State Board of Education has responded with Mexican-American Heritage, the first textbook on the subject ever up for inclusion in the board’s list of approved books.
A sample of it was posted on the Texas Education Agency’s website earlier this month, and boy is it a piece of work. The excerpt is racist, revisionist and in some parts just blatantly false. That’s scary, because Texas’s textbook choices have a disproportionate influence on school book sales nationwide.
There are so many unsubstantiated claims about Mexican Americans in this book I couldn’t possibly list them all in this column, but I’ll give you a few standout examples.
There’s the assertion that Chicanos, as some Mexican Americans call themselves, are anti-education and anti-English. “Chicano philosophy, which pervades urban Latino areas,” the book says,
often reinforces the idea that rebellion against the establishment is part of the true Mexican identity. High school and college youth may refuse to attend class, speak English or learn certain subjects because they perceive injustice in the school system, sometimes led by well-meaning Latino adults. This hinders prosperity because adequate employment depends on many years of intense study.
This is hilariously off base, since Chicanos are a group of civically engaged Mexican Americans who are literally fighting to have their own curriculum put into schools.
Not to mention, Chicanos are a Mexican-American subgroup, not immigrants. According to US Census Bureau data, US-born Latinos are the main drivers of Hispanic population growth since the year 2000, and their English is often much better than their Spanish. Even among Hispanics (ages five and older) who speak a language other than English at home, 56% report speaking English very well, according to the Pew Research Center.
The book goes on to claim that Chicanos want to destroy western civilization, which is pretty ambitious for a group they claim can’t even get to class. I guess when western civilization only encompasses Anglo Americans, it’s not such a big job.
The book also blames Mexican Americans for their historically low educational attainment and overall lack of economic prosperity by comparing them unfavorably to Cuban Americans, “whose heritage promotes a positive view of business and advancement”. If you’ve been following along, dear reader, you’ll recall my column from last July laying out the difference between the Mexican-American and Cuban-American experience.
Long story short, our federal government displays a huge a double standard in favor of Cuban immigrants. Just for starters, when Cubans are caught entering the United States without documentation, they’re granted refuge if they have at least one foot on US soil, while Mexicans are deported or thrown in a detention center. But I’m sure it’s just the Mexicans’ bad attitude that’s keeping them from thriving economically in this country.
Then there’s the section in Mexican-American Heritage that says claims of Anglo-American land grabbing from Mexicans during the late 19th century are largely exaggerated. “Some deeds may have been acquired unscrupulously, but the majority was legally sold,” the book says.
I guess someone better tell Ulysses S Grant who, in his memoirs, wrote that the entire Mexican-American war was a front for acquiring more land that was unopposed to slavery. Not to mention the 187,000 acres of Tejano-owned land that was extorted through state sanction violence by the Texas Rangers, which has been documented by the scholars of the Refusing to Forget project.
All these mischaracterizations are being spearheaded by former Texas state board of education member Cynthia Dunbar, who owns the text’s publishing company, Momentum Instruction. Despite serving on the state board for four years, Dunbar homeschooled her children and wrote a book called One Nation Under God: How the Left Is Trying to Erase What Made Us Great. It calls public education a “subtly deceptive tool of perversion” due to the fact that Christians aren’t allowed to preach religion there.
Jaime Riddle, who lists herself on LinkedIn as the book’s primary author, wrote on Facebook that “it was an honor to learn about real Mexican-American heritage”, while writing … a textbook on the subject. She also maintains a rather extensive author profile on Amazon with her husband Will Riddle, which lists blog posts and YouTube videos featuring Will Riddle expounding on the shortcomings of academia in the face of biblical teachings.
Texans have until September to weigh in on this text before the board votes on whether to approve it. One group has already begun an online petition demanding the Texas Education Agency reopen the call for textbooks, a call that Mexican-American studies publishers say they never received the first time. With this board’s history of policymaking, I’m not holding my breath.
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