Thursday, June 28, 2007

I'm currently working on a Spanish sixth-grade social studies text, of which the last three chapters are devoted to history, mostly Spanish and European, between the voyages of discovery and today. Of course I can't mention the company or the title, but I can say that the textbook follows the official curriculum and has been approved by the Ministry of Education.

The text's interpretation of history is rather bizarre.

It doesn't mention the 1492 expulsion of the Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Catholicism.
It mentions the forced conversions of the Muslims in the caption of a picture; it does not mention the rebellions of the Moriscos, which were brutally crushed and ended with more expulsions.
It doesn't mention the Inquisition or the Counter-Reformation. No one gets burned at the stake in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid, of which there is a large photo.
It mentions the Santa Hermandad, saying it was responsible for "security," but without going into the ugly details.
It fails to speculate that these expulsions and repression might have contributed to the decline of the Spanish Empire.
It does not mention the bloodiness of the Aztecs; it briefly mentions "sacrifice," but not human sacrifice.
Cortex and Pizarro get one sentence between them. War and battle are not mentioned, just "conquest."
It does not mention the great Indian die-off, caused mostly by epidemics but also by Spanish abuse and mistreatment.
It does not mention slavery in Spanish America or the large Spanish participation in the slave trade.
It does not mention the eighty-year Dutch War for Independence.
It does not mention the Spanish Armada and the failed invasion of England.
It blames imperial decline on "famines, epidemics, and wars" without mentioning the many shortcomings of Spanish society and culture.
It does not admit that following the War of the Spanish Succession, Spain was a French satellite state for a century.
It includes a Marxist analysis of the Industrial Revolution, including class struggle between workers and bourgeois; it fails to mention the growth of the salaried middle class, managers and technicians and clerks. Remember Orwell's 1984, in which Winston looks at a history text that includes a drawing of a fat bourgeois dressed in black with a top hat? THIS BOOK ACTUALLY INCLUDES ONE OF THOSE.
It calls the Peninsular War "The War for Independence," but doesn't mention that Spain sided with France until 1808 and saw its fleet destroyed at Trafalgar. It doesn't mention Joseph Bonaparte or the Duke of Wellington.
It doesn't mention the independence of Spanish America, or the wars that it involved. Simon Bolivar is not mentioned.
It doesn't mention the Carlist Wars.
It doesn't mention the Cuban war of independence or the Spanish-American War, which is a little surprising.
It mentions World War I, but doesn't say which countries it was fought between, and it doesn't mention the Russian Revolution. In fact, the word "Communism" does not appear.
World War II receives the same treatment; only Hiroshima and the Holocaust are mentioned. Adolf Hitler is not mentioned. Neither are Lenin and Stalin.
The Spanish Civil War gets four pro-Republican paragraphs. The killings behind the lines on both sides are not mentioned.
The Franco regime gets four paragraphs.
"Inequality in the 20th Century" gets two pages, including the code words "society of consumption," "social inequality," and "ecological problems."
"The European Union" gets two pages, too.

Interesting to compare this version of national history with that taught in American schools, which is all about the rights of minority groups and women, and how mean white men were to Indians, blacks, women, Chinese, Japanese, and people of alternative sexuality.

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