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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

America’s mis-history revealed in new textbooks

All students have disagreed at times with their teachers’ opinions. It is when textbooks disagree with reality that we need to worry. Glencoe/McGraw Hill’s most recent textbook, “World History and Modern Times,” has confused both students and teachers with its account of America’s War on Terror. The book paraphrases the 9/11 incident, describing al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. But then, after describing the terrorists and their actions, it quickly cuts to weapons of mass destruction and the war in Iraq.

“The 9/11 part is accurate, but having Iraq and weapons of mass destruction following in the next paragraph looks like a passive way to tie them together – to link them to your mind,” said Kate Vallee, a New Jersey substitute teacher and mother of a student who took a class featuring the book, via e-mail.

“World History and Modern Times” conveys to students that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, capable of terrorism.

According to an article featured in Christian Science Monitor, after 9/11, only 3 percent of Americans linked Saddam Hussein and Iraq to 9/11. By 2003, in a Knight Ridder poll, 44 percent of Americans linked Iraq to “some” or “most” of 9/11.

“The victor gets to write the history books, I guess,” said Vallee.

Textbooks have communicated false implications and even clear-cut lies for years now. As highlighted in “Lies My Teacher Told me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong,” a book used in the Guilford English course “Creation of the American Self,” Americans have lost touch with their history.

“Our situation is this: American history is full of fantastic and important stories . The stories that history textbooks tell are predictable; every problem has already been solved or is about to be solved. Textbooks exclude conflict or real suspense. They leave out anything that might reflect badly upon our national character,” wrote James Loewen, author of the book.

Some students never doubted their textbooks until reading Loewen’s book. Now, some tend to doubt history through text.

“A lot of stuff we’ve learned through our years in school were proved to be untrue in this book,” said senior Josh Lane, a history major and a student in “Creation of American Self.” “If American history erased racism, I’d hate to be learning recent history through textbooks.”

The “World History and Modern Times” account of 9/11 and the war in Iraq is a good example of what Loewen highlights in his book.

“The class used the book to highlight that some of the stories told in our history classes aren’t full-out lies,” said first-year and student of the class Alex Starbuck, “but they are changed in favor of American’s image.”

Writing a textbook is certainly a difficult task, but shortcomings of America have not been correctly covered, and important events that have happened recently have been falsely covered. College students are old enough to figure out what has or has not happened in American history, but some believe the younger generation is more impressionable.

“It scares me with the young children that are being taught all of this stuff that just isn’t true,” said Lane. “This isn’t just George Washington and the cherry tree anymore; it’s going to war and the reasons why we went to war. Whether we were right or wrong to go to war, the truth should be expected in textbooks.

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