September 2nd, 2006



A few days ago, I was thinking about textbooks and classrooms thanks to an entry on a friend's journal. Then I ran across this article referenced over on Instapundit.

The article pretty much illustrates what my 'gut' was feeling regarding discussions of minority contributions in social studies classes. Some excerpts:

At least three-fourths of the children portrayed as disabled in Houghton Mifflin textbooks actually aren't....

Because, you know, not all disabled kids are pretty.

The cofounder of PhotoEdit Inc., a commercial archive that specializes in pictures of what it calls ``ethnic and minority people in all walks of life," advises publishers that images of Chicanos can be passed off as American Indians from the Southwest, because they ``look very similar." Similarly, Golden notes, a textbook photographer tells clients that since the ``facial features" of some Asians resemble Indians from Mexico, ``there are some times where you can flip-flop."

But hey, it's the diversity that counts.

Yet pictures of authentic Hispanics who happen to have blond hair or blue eyes don't count toward the Hispanic quota ``because their background would not be apparent to readers." In other words, rather than expose schoolchildren to the fact that ``Hispanic" is an artificial classification that encompasses people of every color, publishers promote the fiction that all Hispanics look the same -- and that looks, not language or lineage, are the essence of Hispanic identity.

There's a great picture in the wikipedia article.

``One major publisher vetoed a photo of a barefoot child in an African village," Golden writes, ``on the grounds that the lack of footwear reinforced the stereotype of poverty on that continent." Grinding poverty is in fact a daily reality for hundreds of millions of Africans.

I have no words for this one.

....a McGraw-Hill US history text devoted a profile and photograph to Bessie Coleman, the first African-American woman pilot -- but neglected even to mention Wilbur and Orville Wright. ``A company spokesman," the Journal reports dryly, ``said the brothers had been left out inadvertently."

And this pretty much illustrates my entire objection. Illustrating the contributions of all people of various groups is a good thing, but not at the expense of greater contributions.


Still too irritated to put together a coherent post, but it all boils down to this:

If the United Nations really, really thinks that I don't have a right to self-defense, then it really has become a useless organization.

More here and here.

The truly worst part lies in the selective use of statistics.

Despite self-defence justifications for possessing a firearm, research indicates that firearms are rarely used to stop crimes or kill criminals.39

And yet, footnote 39 says no such thing:

39 In 2003 only 203 justifiable homicides by private citizens using firearms were reported by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports, including 163 with handguns. This number compares to the 17,108 suicides, 11,829 homicides and 762 accidental
deaths caused by firearms in 2003, data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and

"Rarely used to stop crimes or kill criminals" has suddenly, in the footnotes, become "Rarely used to kill criminals" only.

Argh. And bullshit.