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Fox News Crusade (Or Is It Jihad?) Against Textbooks and Islam

Reported by Priscilla - March 14, 2009 -

In 1095, in a field in Clermont France, Pope Urban II urged Christians to take up arms against Muslims who were harassing Christians in the Middle East. For their trouble, the crusaders were promised an indulgence; i.e. free ticket to paradise. In 2009, the modern guardian of Christian morality, Fox News, is waging a holy war against liberal textbooks – particularly those that don’t sufficiently reference Jesus or Islamic (stress on Islamic) terrorism. (No indulgences are given to the culture crusaders; so one wonders what the payoff is!) University of Dayton professor Larry Schweikart has been the chief agent provocateur; but on Thursday morning’s edition of Fox&Friends (March 12th) Fox’s “religion correspondent” Lauren Green added her voice to the ongoing culture war.

MENSA member Steve Doocy began the segment by saying that folks would be surprised that textbooks are being used for propaganda (Oh, I feel a little irony coming on). I guess that these surprised folks haven’t been watching the ongoing Larry Schweikart history side show! According to Steve, in addition to distorting history, these texts are distorting theology – oh, noooo…And in the spirit of Pope Urban, Steve Doocy acknowledged that “we have been sounding the alarm” about the texts. In introducing Green, Doocy claimed that there were “hundreds of mistakes.” Green, without identifying her source, claimed that there are 500 examples of errors in books used in every state – oh, noooo….She claimed that there is a disparity between Judaism/Christianity and Islam in that Islam is “held to a lesser light.” On cue, Doocy whined “what’s that about?” Green’s two examples did seem legitimate. One book described the 10 Commandments as laws that Moses “claimed” to have received as opposed to the book’s unqualified statement that revelations in the Koran were “received” by Mohammed from God. The chyron read “Pro Islamic propaganda, report finds bias in K-12 history books.” The other book described Jesus as a Palestinian when, as noted by Ms. Green, he was a Jew who preached in the Roman provinces of Judea and Galilee. At this point, the chyron read: “Islamic Extremism Ignored, Terrorism Downplayed, Glossed Over.” Please allow me a Lewis Black moment: “GREEN DID NOT MENTION ANYTHING ABOUT TERRORISM!!!!! There, I feel better.

Comment: I really didn’t have a problem with Ms. Green although, as with the Schweikart segments, hers was presented with no counterpoint. Her presentation, with the exception of not identifying the report from which she sourced, was well informed and done in a professional manner. Unlike some screamers at Fox (you know who they are), she is a dignified and educated commentator who is also concert pianist. Her commentary, in this piece, was devoid of the silly joking and tee-hees that we see in a Larry Schweikart piece. Her approach was scholary and she also didn’t editorialize about evil liberals as does University of Dayton professor Larry Schweikart. I did find it interesting that the book, “The Trouble With Textbooks” (Gary Tobin, Dennis Ybarra), references these two errors; yet Green didn’t mention it. The real issue here was the incendiary and what could arguably be seen as anti-Islamic chyrons – one of which inferred that the mistakes were “pro Islamic propaganda" and one which did not remotely connect to the discussion. The medium is truly the message here. Who is really pushing the propaganda?