Government-Approved History Sparks Furor With "PC" Portrait of America's Past

Click here for a sample of the bookWashington, D.C. (Hypernet News Service) - Today, the federal Agency for Sensitivity in Schools released its new "model history text," The Politically Correct Guide to American History, which has proven controversial. The book's interpretation of the past differs sharply from what Americans have traditionally been taught in class: Paul Revere is berated for riding his "equestrian partner" to exhaustion during his famous midnight ride. Abe Lincoln is depicted as harshly intolerant of "regional diversity" for his refusal to let Confederate officers crack the Union Army's glass ceiling.

Even hallowed documents like the Constitution have been updated to reflect modern norms. A revised First Amendment reads: "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech--except for V chips, Internet guidelines, and music warning labels." And Betsy Ross created a flag, the text states, "that anyone has an unquestionable right to burn."

The taxpayer-funded book "provides high school students with a blueprint for how they should think about public issues," according to a spokesperson from the Agency for Sensitivity in Schools. Meanwhile, several groups have already expressed concern over its message.

Religious leaders strongly object to the portrayal of Satan as a "misunderstood Being afflicted by fire-and-brimstone syndrome" in the chapter titled "The Victimized Devil and Daniel Webster." Veterans' groups decried a section on World War II that describes Nazi Germany's "defense of its unique culture."

Congressional leaders, taking time out from their campaigns and book tours, denounced The Politically Correct Guide to American History, and have called for the abolition of the Agency for Sensitivity in Schools. On the steps of the Library of Congress, worried bureaucrats ignited a huge bonfire of the divisive book material. A White House aide objected to the book cover's portrait of the First Lady, remarking, "They didn't get the hair style right."

Other organizations, however, heaped praise on the book. The National Order of Wompersons (N.O.W.) declared the chapter "Paula Bunyan, Lumberjane" a "refreshing new twist on an old sexist legend"; the American Criminal Liberties Union praised the book's depiction of the Menendez brothers as innocent victims of parental abuse; and the Ozone Layer Defense Council lauded a section that condemns the Boston Tea Party's pollution of Boston Harbor.

Militia groups were less sanguine. "It's all a plot," said militia head Heinrich "Bo" Wolfendorf. "Helicopters are secretly dropping cartons of this text at bookstores throughout America."

The Politically Correct Guide to American History figures to be a prominent issue in the presidential campaign. The Republican candidate stated he will offer his opinion on the text after conducting a poll to see what voters want him to say. The Democratic candidate said he would reserve comment until the Republican position became clear, at which time he would adopt that view.

The provocative textbook was written as part of the government's "Roles 2000" project, which was designed to shape and improve the thought processes of students in U.S. schools. It was paid for with $43 million in funds transferred out of the federal student loan program and an Arkansas S&L.

Talk radio hosts and call-in psychic hotlines report receiving calls from several anonymous sources claiming that The Politically Correct Guide to American History is not an actual textbook, but a comic parody. Skeptics note the book's author, Edward Moser, writes for "The Tonight Show" and has penned satires for such reputable periodicals as the Washington Post.

The Politically Correct Guide to American History is published by Crown Publishers, Inc., a division of Random House. (For fear of another government shutdown, Washington contracted the book out to a private-sector publisher.)

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elke Villa, 212-572-2253, evilla@randomhouse.com
Random House has additional information about the book.



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Last updated on September 27, 1996