Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Tea Party Groups In Tennessee Demand Textbooks Overlook U.S. Founder's Slave-Owning History

Tea Party Groups In Tennessee Demand Textbooks Overlook U.S. Founder's Slave-Owning History

Slavery In School Textbooks
A little more than a year after the conservative-led state board of education in Texas approved massive changes to its school textbooks to put slavery in a more positive light, a group of Tea Party activists in Tennessee has renewed its push to whitewash school textbooks. The group is seeking to remove references to slavery and mentions of the country's founders being slave owners.
According to reports, Hal Rounds, the Fayette County attorney and spokesman for the group, said during a recent news conference that there has been "an awful lot of made-up criticism about, for instance, the founders intruding on the Indians or having slaves or being hypocrites in one way or another."
"The thing we need to focus on about the founders is that, given the social structure of their time, they were revolutionaries who brought liberty into a world where it hadn't existed, to everybody -- not all equally instantly -- and it was their progress that we need to look at," Rounds said, according to The Commercial Appeal.
During the news conference more than two dozen Tea Party activists handed out material that said, "Neglect and outright ill will have distorted the teaching of the history and character of the United States. We seek to compel the teaching of students in Tennessee the truth regarding the history of our nation and the nature of its government."
And that further teaching would also include that "the Constitution created a Republic, not a Democracy."
The group demanded, as they had in January of last year, that Tennessee lawmakers change state laws governing school curricula. The group called for textbook selection criteria to include: "No portrayal of minority experience in the history which actually occurred shall obscure the experience or contributions of the Founding Fathers, or the majority of citizens, including those who reached positions of leadership."
The latest push comes a year after the Texas Board of Education approved revisions to its social studies curriculum that would put a conservative twist on history through revised textbooks and teaching standards.
The Texas revisions include the exploration of the positive aspects of American slavery, lifting the stature of Jefferson S. Davis to that of Abraham Lincoln, and amendments to teach the value of the separation of church and state were voted down by the conservative cadre. Among other controversial amendments that have been approved is the study of the "unintended consequences" of affirmative action.
The board approved more than 100 amendments affecting social studies, economics and history classes for Texas's 4.8 million students.
The influence of the amended textbooks will likely reach far beyond the state of Texas. The state is one of the largest purchasers of textbooks, and many other states adopt Texas's books and standards.
The curriculum changes were pushed through by a majority bloc of conservative Republicans on the Texas school board, who have said the changes were made to add balance to what they believe was a left-leaning and already-skewed reflection of American history.
"There is some method to the madness besides vindicating white privilege and making white students feel as though they are superior and privileged and that that it is the natural order of things," Gary Bledsoe, president of the Texas State NAACP, told The Crisis magazine last year about this time. "The agenda being pushed and the ultimate impact intended is to make young people automatically identify with one political party."
The groups sought a federal review of the state's public education and have raised claims that the Texas State Board of Education has violated federal civil rights laws. In a formal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education, the groups charge that the new curriculum was devised to "discriminate."
The measures went as far as to replace instances of the trans-Atlantic slave trade with "Atlantic triangular trade."
"It is going to be extremely psychologically harmful to African-American young people because they are marginalized in the curriculum," Bledsoe said. "It will require them to be taught things such as the benevolence of slavery and the problems with affirmative action rather than the good and the bad."
"They voted down a motion that requires students to be taught about the terrorism brought about by the Ku Klux Klan and what they did to ethnic and racial minorities, but they turn around and pass a provision that requires the teaching of the violence of the Black Panther Party."

Playing “jazz” is a crime in North Korea By Geoffrey Cain


Kim Cheol Woong was the country's star pianist before his musical taste landed him in trouble... SEOUL, South Korea — Kim Cheol Woong belonged to North Korea’s coddled elite. Then in 2001 he was accused of treachery.  His crime: playing a Richard Clayderman piece on his piano. Scion of a privileged political family in the reclusive state, Kim was a star pianist in North Korea’s state symphony. He grew up memorizing garish children’s songs like “Revolutionary Army Game” — part of the nation’s required piano curriculum. 

One day, alone in a room, he practiced the “capitalist” piano piece. He was hoping it would help him woo a woman he loved. Outside, a snitch heard the saccharin melody, and then reported the instrumentalist to authorities. The piece in question was Richard Clayderman’s classic, “’L’ for Love,” an elevator standard that Kim first heard while studying at the prestigious Moscow Conservatory. Clayderman is a French pianist known for his pop ballads and easy listening style. Some Westerners may wish Clayderman’s sleepy banquet-hall melodies would be banned. But regardless of where you stand, in reclusive North Korea the “crime” reflects the regime’s stark morals.

The government accused Kim of playing “jazz,” a blanket label for depraved Western music not sanctioned by the state. Police made him write a 10-page self-criticism over and over. Humiliated and angry, he fled his fatherland.
“Even if you are the greatest pianist in the world, you cannot play piano if you do not show sufficient loyalty to Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung,” said 39-year-old Kim, referring to the two former dictators of North Korea.
After a secret trek across the border to China, the performer realized that his comfortable life was finished.
In China, “people called North Koreans beggars and bastards,” he said at a July 13 concert. “I was ignored and humiliated by other people.”
Kim worked at a logging camp and then as a house servant. He eventually found a job as a church pianist and converted to Christianity.
After three unlucky arrests, however, Chinese police put Kim on a list for repatriation to North Korea. He narrowly escaped detention both times.

China sends home North Koreans because it considers them economic migrants and not political refugees protected under international law. But once in North Korean hands, returnees can expect months or years of beatings and hard labor.
With the help of a missionary network, Kim finally caught an airplane to Seoul in 2003.
Today he continues to raise awareness through his concerts, and has even performed at esteemed venues like Carnegie Hall in New York. In mid-July, he played piano in Seoul on behalf of the Citizens’ Alliance for North Korean Human Rights (NKHR).
Such performances wouldn’t fly in Pyongyang.
North Korea’s broad use of the word “jazz” to vilify foreign music dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, when genres like bebop, post-bop, and cool jazz were trendy in North America and Europe.
Communist regimes associated the American art with drugs, beatnik culture, and the vanities of so-called capitalist life.
“It generally follows the Soviet idea that jazz was basically bad — even though in the USSR it was also emphasized that in some cases it might be good as a ‘progressive Negro music,’” said Andrei Lankov, a Russian historian of North Korea.
Saxophonists like John Coltrane and Archie Shepp put their tunes toward social and spiritual advancement. But the musical egalitarianism never played into North Korea’s thinking, Lankov said.
The regime continues to denigrate many foreign genres. The ruling party mouthpiece, the Rodong Shinmun, pens the occasional editorial criticizing ex-communist states for their love of jazz and rock.
Western, non-revolutionary music contributed to ideological decay during the Cold War, while the North Korean regime stayed put and resisted evil influences, the newspaper opines.
But those strict social mores are changing. Today, North Koreans can buy bootlegged South Korean and American DVDs and CDs. The items make their way across the Chinese border and onto the black market, where they’re sometimes sold out in the open.
The foreign media has become so prevalent — at least since a famine broke down total state control in the 1990s — that even the police and soldiers watch them together, one former North Korean police commander told GlobalPost.
Yet the state still regards it as “enemy propaganda” and prohibits viewing it, at least on paper. It’s also illegal to own a radio or television that can be tuned to unapproved broadcasts, although Samsung televisions are sold on the black market, too.

Michael Moore's A Brief History of United States of America

"Do You Have A Personal Problem With White People?"