Muslim apologists are hardly alone in attempting to present their faith uncritically in textbooks. Christians, Jews, Hindus and others simply don't enjoy the same clout in an environment of unquestioned multiculturalism. Islamists fuse faith with political activism and bully academic writers, editors and state bureaucrats responsible for overseeing curriculum standards.
The most important place to push the hot button is in California, mandated by its sheer size. Meeting state standards is big business worth hundreds of millions of dollars for publishers after texts are adopted. California, which is especially sensitive to political correctness, buckles easily under the bullying of the California-based Council on Islamic Education (CIE), which with other Muslim groups spreads Islamic propaganda through the newspapers, film and television studios. Islamic groups pursue a rich textbook market in Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, as well.
The textbook publishing troika consists of Pearson, McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin. When McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin sought definitions of "jihad" and "sharia," they cowered under Muslim intimidation. Instead of showing the links connecting religion, law and ritual, they simply dropped all discussion of them. There is no mention of the Islamic mistreatment of women, homosexuals and members of other faiths.
The Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI), a relatively new company in the California textbook market, produces a social studies series titled "History Alive!" Teachers know it for its amateurishness and wealth of errors, but it is nevertheless popular for its trendy multicultural treatment of history. A seventh-grader who reads a Prentice Hall textbook will learn that medieval Islamic Spain was a "multicultural society." (This is news.) An ambiguous "team of terrorists" is responsible for Sept. 11; the religion of the hijackers is not mentioned. (How convenient.)
The Council on Islamic Education (CIE), which Sewall describes as an organization of "injustice collectors," has exerted enormous power over textbook publishers, forcing revisions and rewrites while managing to conceal exactly how much it controls content." What is in fact a propaganda machine," says Sewall, "presents itself as a resource center and scholarly authority."
Trusting parents are easily gulled into believing that their children's textbooks are based on legitimate scholarship. Americans stretch out to accept other faiths in good faith and with good humor, and are especially sensitive to the Muslim cry of scape-goating. But Sewall's disturbing research wistfully recalls the simple and innocent poetry of Omar Khayyam:
"The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it."