The subject of Islam in America is front and center, with Rep. Peter King's hearings in Washington, D.C., on radical Muslims in the United States. While acknowledging that the vast majority of American Muslims are law-abiding, patriotic citizens, King pointed to a Pew poll that reported that 15 percent of Muslim American men between the ages of 18 and 29 could support suicide bombings. "There are realities we can't ignore," said King.
When it comes to how Islam is taught in our nation's public schools, I echo King's admonition—there are realities we can't ignore.
This past fall, the Texas State Board of Education passed a resolution against "Pro-Islamic/Anti-Christian Bias" in textbooks. As an example of the bias, the Texas board cited World History: Patterns of Interaction (McDougal) used in Texas high schools. The textbook taught students about the "Crusaders' massacre of Muslims at Jerusalem in 1099 while censoring Muslims' massacres of Christians there in 1244 and at Antioch in 1268."
Another textbook, World History: Connections to Today (Prentice) “described Crusaders' massacres of European Jews but not the Muslim Tamerlane's massacre of perhaps 90,000 fellow Muslims at Baghdad in 1401, and of perhaps 100,000 Indian POWs at Delhi in 1398."
"In many instances, when talking about historical facts of Christianity, such as Jesus' crucifixion, disclaimers state 'Christians believe,' implying an absence of credibility or historical evidence, while the myths, stories, legends and claims of Islam are presented as facts. In another textbook, Holt World History, one reads that Moses 'claimed to receive the Ten Commandments from god,' but Mohammed simply 'received' the Qur'an from god."
Many political and religious groups try to use the textbook process to their advantage, but the deficiencies in Islam-related lessons are uniquely disturbing.
Misinformation about Islam is more pronounced in junior high school textbooks than high school textbooks.
Deficiencies about Islam in textbooks copyrighted before 2001 persist and in some cases have grown worse.
Islamic activists use multiculturalism and ready-made American political movements, especially those on campus, to advance and justify the makeover of Islam-related textbook content.
For example, the report's author, Gilbert T. Sewall, writes:
"While seventh-grade textbooks describe Islam in glowing language, they portray Christianity in harsh light. Students encounter a startling contrast. Islam is featured as a model of interfaith tolerance; Christians wage wars of aggression and kill Jews. Islam provides models of harmony and civilization."
It is vitally important that each generation of Americans learn the biblical heritage of America and the foundational worldview that made our nation possible. Unfortunately, teachers rely on flawed textbooks and academic accuracy is sacrificed in too many classrooms, due, in many cases, to a lack of a well-rounded historical understanding of Islam. Teachers could, and should, fill in the gaps in the textbooks they’ve been given to use . . . if only they knew where they were.