How will history textbooks treat the death of Trayvon Martin? Here’s a sneak preview

How will history textbooks treat the death of Trayvon Martin? Here’s a sneak preview
Image: Family photo

[Author’s note: This post originally appeared on July 3, 2013 and has been updated.]

If you have any doubt that contemporary education hews slavishly to a leftist agendum, just check out a current school textbook. It hardly makes a difference what subject area the book is in. Even math books nowadays are required to carry the party line.

But when it comes to history — or social studies, as it is commonly known up through Grade 6 — school book publishers and the teachers who use them pull out all the stops.

When the kids stray, the teachers will rely on their own liberal instincts to force the little buggers back in line. They will inform them, as one teacher did, for example, that speaking ill of the president can get you thrown in jail — at least so long as his name is Barack Obama.

The creators of some lesson plans don’t wait for history to unfold. They decide in advance of the facts what lessons their young charges can take away from selected events of the day.

Take the death of Trayvon Martin. A number of fatal shootings of other young, unarmed black males have occurred since Martin met his violent end on Feb. 16, 2012, but his name remains a rally cry among the black community at large and its liberal enablers. So much of a symbol of excessive force by police or quasi-police (the shot that killed Martin came from a gun owned by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman) does the 17-year-old remain that Hillary Clinton has invited Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, to stump for her.

The details of what transpired between Martin and Zimmerman on that fateful night in 2012 were still largely shrouded in mystery a month later when school teacher Hassan Adeeb published his lesson plan on Trayvon Martin at the website African American History.

EAGnews determined that Adeeb is a teacher in Waldorf, Md. His lesson, EAG notes, compared the killing of Martin to that of Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old who was murdered in 1955 after he allegedly flirted with a white girl.

Needless to say, race relations have changed dramatically in the 57 years since the Till murder. This didn’t stop Adeeb from quoting MSNBC’s Ed Shultz observation that “the Trayvon Martin killing could be the Emmett Till moment of our time.” It seems not to have occurred to Adeeb — and it certainly didn’t occur to Shultz — that Till’s murder was a pivotal event in the American Civil Rights Movement. If Adeeb wanted to do service to the memory of Emmett Till, not to mention put his senseless murder in context, he might have quoted historian Hugh Stephen Whitaker, who wrote:

Mississippi became in the eyes of the nation the epitome of racism and the citadel of white supremacy. From this time on, the slightest racial incident anywhere in the state was spotlighted and magnified. To the Negro race throughout the South and to some extent in other parts of the country, this verdict [Till’s killers were acquitted] indicated an end to the system of noblesse oblige. The faith in the white power structure waned rapidly. Negro faith in legalism declined, and the revolt officially began on December 1, 1955, with the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott.

But Adeeb’s goal was not to shed light on the history of black-white relations but to sensationalize the death of a black teen, the details of which he scarcely knew.

Schultz is not the only source Adeeb turned to in preparing his lesson. He also provides “facts of the case” gathered from the Think Progress website.

His list of Related Resources is equally revealing. It includes an interview by Melissa Harris-Perry, another fixture of MSNBC, with young African American males, and material culled from the equally hard-left Mother Jones, The Grio, and Democracy Now.

EAG writes:

An educator would have students watching the court proceedings before drawing conclusions about the case. But what fun would that be? How could liberal teachers get any spin out of that?

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Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.


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