18 February 2007

SF schools to teach "witty and devastating portrait of US military history"

First JROTC programs are banned from San Francisco schools, and now Addicted to War: Why the U.S. Can't Kick Militarism is to be included in the public school curriculum.

Although the book has had significant distribution within the Los Angeles public school system for some time, San Francisco Unified is the first entire district to approve use of the book after a unanimous vote by the Board of Education's Curriculum and Program Committee last fall.

Covering 230 years of American wars and conflicts, the San Franciso Bay Guardian calls it a "well-researched text, footnoted from sources as varied as international newspapers, Department of Defense documents, and transcripts of speeches from scores of world leaders", as well as touting endorsements from Susan Sarandon, Noam Chomsky, Ramsey Clark, Medea Benjamin (of CodePINK fame), Helen Caldicott, and Cindy Sheehan.

On Manifest Destiny: (All ellipses and emphasis in original text.)

The American revolutionaries who rose up against King George in 1776 spoke eloquently about the right of every nation to determine its own destiny.

Unfortunately, after they won the right to determine their own destiny, they thought they should determine everyone else's too!

On The "Cold War" and the exploits of the Self-Proclaimed "World Policeman"

For the next 45 years, the world was caught up in a global turf battle between the "two superpowers". The U.S. was always much stronger than its Soviet adversary, but both countries maintained huge military forces to expand their own "spheres of influence".

For its part, the U.S. moved to expand its sphere of influence beyond the Americas... To put down insubordination, disorder and disloyalty in its sphere of influence, the new "majority stockholder" also appointed itself the "world policeman".

I confess I haven't read the whole 77 page comic book (yes, it's a comic book), but I don't imagine there's any mention of the fact that it was NOT clear the "U.S. was always much stronger" (Ronald Reagan being the first to seriously question if they were really as strong as universally believed). And I don't suppose the tens of millions killed by Stalin are discussed. Or the millions who achieved freedom through U.S. military intervention.

The "New World Order" is discussed in Chapter 3. Ronald Reagan stepped up the arms race, the poor Soviets with their much smaller economy "struggled to keep up", putting a "tremendous strain on Soviet society, contributing to its collapse." Behind closed doors, "top U.S. government strategists" (apparently bored and looking for new ways to bully others) decided that it would be fun to go after much weaker countries now where we could achieve "decisive victories".

Had enough? Wait - there's more. Chapter 4 covers the "War on Terrorism":

After the horrific September 11 terrorist attacks, one question was so sensitive it was seldom addressed by the U.S. news media: "Mom, why did they do it?"

Well, to find out, the book helpfully suggests it makes sense to ask the terrorists. And quotes Osama bin Laden.

You can see where this is going. It's all our fault. Besides that, there's a lot of money and power to be gained by "The War Profiteers" (covered in Chapter 5). And don't forget the government and the media are in cahoots to whip up support (Chapters 6 and 7) but you CAN "Resist Militarism" (Chapter 8).

Did I mention the book - conceived in 1991 to highlight the "real story" behind the 1991 Gulf War - has now been updated to cover the "current quagmire in Iraq"?

Wouldn't want to leave that out.

The author, Joel Andreas, has been an anti-war activist since being dragged by his parents to demostrations against the Vietnam war. He later became a PhD in sociology studying the aftermath of the Chinese Revolution and now teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

The books themselves have been purchased and donated to the San Francisco Unified School District using contributions collected by local peace activist Pat Gerber.

What's going on in our schools? Since when has it become acceptable to make certain personal political opinions an official part of the curriculum while banning others?

More importantly, has moral equivalency become so pervasive in America that there is no longer any differentiation made between the concepts of American pluralism and communism? And will they have our children believe there is no difference between the American Soldier and the 9/11 terrorist?

William Arkin calling our soldiers mercenaries pales compared to this outrage.

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