Mark A. Chancey: Islam Resolution Reflects Frightening Agenda





[Mark A. Chancey is chair of the Department of Religious Studies in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at Southern Methodist University. His e-mail address is mchancey@smu.edu.]

Let's not pretend that the resolution on Islam that the Texas State Board of Education is considering is about balance in textbook coverage of the world's major religions. While its final lines sound reasonable – "reject future prejudicial Social Studies submissions" that have "significant inequalities of coverage space-wise" or that reflect bias "by demonizing or lionizing" one religion over others – the rest of it is clearly not about fairness. It is about fear – specifically, fear of Muslims, including, presumably, the numerous Texas Muslims among the board's constituents.

If the resolution were really motivated by concern for various religions, we might expect it to at least mention them. But it names only two traditions, Islam and Christianity, which it presupposes are in conflict. Its first line complains that "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian bias has tainted some past Texas Social Studies textbooks." It later objects that "pro-Islamic/anti-Christian half-truths, selective disinformation, and false editorial stereotypes still roil some Social Studies textbooks nationwide." In its rhetoric, the terms "pro-Islamic" and "anti-Christian" go hand in hand; whatever is "pro-Islamic" is by definition "anti-Christian."...

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