Volusia County is a large swing county here in Florida. As usual, there are more registered Dems than GOP, but it tends to elect conservatives. The county went for Mitt (albeit just barely) in 2012, and all of the state legislators in that country are GOP. Yet given that there are many Dems here you would think moderate voices would prevail. You would think wrong.
The moderate chairman of the Volusia Co. GOP was ousted in favor of a crazed, teabagger wingnut named Tony Ledbetter. Once elected he sent out press releases demanding $11 million in cuts to the County, even though he was told by all sides that his calculations were way off and to get bent. He consistently organized protests against a variety of conservative bogeymen, like taxes and the latest one--Common Core Standards. Yet, they flopped miserably.
Ledbetter suddenly became a sensation in wingnuttia. He was invited to rant on FoxNews (of course), hate radio jumped into the mix, the rightwing sphere of the interwebs blew up, and Ledbetter's protests suddenly swelled with Glen Beck's rejects demanding our schools be protected from factual textbooks.
Megyn Kelly of course picked up the story, reporting in all seriousness that the wingnut parents were simply demanding to rip out the offending pages of the textbook until a suitable replacement could be found. I suppose book burning would be a little too on the nose.
One hate site supporting Ledbetter, which features the lovely photo of the GOP chair below yelling at a Muslim, claims that the textbook is full of omissions and errors that favor Islam over other religions like Christianity and Judaism. Never you mind that Christianity is referenced throughout the entire book far more than Islam. Never mind that the GOP can't find ONE damn statement to point to that is untrue or offensive.
I have looked all over the internets and the youtubes for just one of these totebags to provide one example--just one. Since the wingnuts all are claiming it "indoctrinates" students and the book is "filled with lies"... surely you can provide ONE freaking sentence? How about it Megyn?
Alas, none is provided. Because its a damned textbook. It gives timelines, dates, and actual history. And because its a book, the hatemongers don't have to worry about their target audience actually bothering to read any of it. They were TOLD the book is a lie: and for those dumb enough to get their "news" from Rush and Fox, that's good enough.
As Ormond Beach Mayor Ed Kelley said:
"Why are people against things when they don't know what the thing they're against is?"
Because your local party is a microcosm of the national party: filled with ignorant jagoffs, Ed.
The only argument I can find that the book contains indoctrination or is untruthful is that it doesn't spend the whole chapter in a Mein Kampf-like fashion bashing Muslims. The hate site BareNaked Islam quoted several protesters who explain the mindset:
"This book is ridiculously biased. The whole history of Muslim is violence"--Armando Escalante of Port Orange
"This is a vanilla history,” said Joel Paige of New Smyrna Beach.
Walter Hanford said the book “whitewashes” the history of Islam and its Muslim followers, including involvement in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the shootings at Fort Hood, Texas.
Imagine the outcry if a textbook only spoke of Christianity in terms of the violence--the crusades or the bombing of Oklahoma. Suppose it only spoke of the hate-filled Christians, like these guys or of Rev. Phelps and his gayfolk-hating ilk. I can imagine phrases in the book like "And therefore we can objectively conclude that Christianity is the root of all evil" or "What is it about Christianity that takes otherwise intelligent people and turn them into raving heathens?"
Of course, then it wouldn't be a textbook anymore......just biased, hate-filled propaganda. People would be justifiably outraged. Yet that is EXACTLY what they want to happen with this textbook and Islam. The parents are infuriated because the textbook is written in a neutral fashion (like any textbook should be), and it is somehow the equivalent of indoctrination and smears. The mere acknowledgment of the second largest religion in the world cannot occur without condemnation in the mind of your average teabagger.
I'm sure these protestor's kids get to learn plenty about bigotry and hatred at home.. they don't need a textbook to do it for them. This is evidenced by the hatefully scribed thoughts from local GOPers on a lot of these sites saying Islam is evil and their followers need to be wiped off the Earth. I was going to cut and paste a few, but why bother. You can find them everywhere anytime the topic of Islam and tolerance is brought up.
The irony here is that since there is so much fiction presented about Islam, mostly by people like Ledbetter and his hate group followers, it makes teaching about other religions and cultures even more critical. Teaching facts is not the same as indoctrination. I can't imagine one person has ever converted to another religion by reading facts in a textbook. Hell, in my American History class back in the 1980s, my textbook had several pages devoted to the freaking Ku Klux Klan! For some reason I learned about their history, structure, "konklaves", and other nonsense. I never thought "Hey, I'd like to dress up like an idiot and be part of that". Although it was talked about in a historical context, I think I could have made a pretty good argument that we didn't need to know so much about an outdated hate group--but I had more important issues to concern myself with during that time in my life (like my Pac-man score and when to ask Debbie Peterson out).
But Islam, unlike the Klan, is actually relevant. It has billions of followers. It guides the policies of large swaths of the world populace, including nations that America has to deal with quite a bit. OF COURSE you should f&*king at least know the basics so you can be informed. It would benefit them a lot more than learning about an American hate group, but I'm willing to bet any amount of money that if the book had a chapter devoted to the KKK instead they never would have had a problem with it. After all, the Klan's membership thrives on ignorance: which is the same quality that drives membership in today's GOP.
UPDATE: I failed to mention that, without a hint of irony, the Volusia School Board was forced to cancel their meeting because of violent threats against them. This link also includes video of Ledbetter's intellectual argument with a Muslim.