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Textbook Tyranny Over The Mind Of Man

By Tom Rodgers

Dallas, TX –

The Texas Board of Education will take a final vote next month on a new social studies curriculum. One change in particular bothers commentator Tom Rodgers.

In his novel, 1984, George Orwell described the so-called "Ministry of Truth": "Day by day...the past was brought up to date...Every prediction made by the Party could be shown by documentary evidence to have been correct...All history was scraped clean and reinscribed as often as necessary."

In the year 2010, Orwell's dark vision is alive and well at the Texas State Board of Education, where its radical alteration of textbooks affects schools nationwide.

The religious right has been trying to diminish scientific ideas like evolution and global warming for some time. But when the State Board said they were removing Thomas Jefferson from a list of revolutionary thinkers, an alarm went off in my head.

As a pioneer of limited government and individual freedom, how could conservatives turn Jefferson into a bad guy? Wasn't Ronald Reagan a fan of Jefferson, even jabbing Bill Clinton with, "You're no Thomas Jefferson!"

According to Cynthia Dunbar of the State Board of Education, Jefferson deserves removal because he uttered that most subversive phrase, "separation of church and state." Would she have us believe he was some kind of secular humanist?

Nothing could be further from the truth. His most-revered works contain references to God, Almighty God, the Altar of God. To Jefferson, separation of church and state did not mean separation from God. It came from a deep-seated fear of our founding fathers: When the state favors one religion, loss of liberty and even bloody wars can result. They'd seen a century of Reformation wars, Christian sects viscously fighting, burning both Catholics and Protestants at the stake, massacring whole towns, including women and children.

Ms. Dunbar says she studied the Constitution at Pat Robertson's Regent School of Law in Virginia, but perhaps she forgot Jefferson almost single-handedly wrote our Declaration of Independence and inspired revolutions in France and elsewhere. Up the road from law school, she'd find it at the Jefferson Memorial. On its northwest wall, she could read his Virginia "Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom": "Almighty God hath created the mind free...No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship or ministry or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions..."

But the largest inscription speaks particularly to the State Board: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Here is the ultimate irony: unenlightened tyrants on the State Board removing the man who warned us about such tyranny.

Another man from Orwell's time said, "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future." That man's name was Adolf Hitler.

Tom Rodgers is a writer living in Arlington.