Iraq's Education Ministry bans books of Saddam's era

Kuwait News Agency - Kuwait, has a very short blurb that says Iraqi Education Minister Falah Hasan on Sunday said that all school books printed before 2004 were banned to avert the negative ideas of Saddam Hussein's regime.

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Perhaps I'm unclear on the concept

I was under the impression that American style democracy and freedom were all about allowing ideas, including those with which you do not agree.

Oh, wait. This is the neo-con, right-wing nut, New World Order style of democracy and freedom, isn't it?

Censorship is bad. It's bad for everyone; including neo-con, right-wing nut, New World Order advocates. Pity they don't see that.

Re:Perhaps I'm unclear on the concept

Choosing which textbooks to use with children is a little different than censoring them. The textbooks will still exist! It may make sense for some college-level classes to analyze all the propaganda in the old books, but the kids need modern textbooks.

In short, what you are missing is that left-wingers like to dictate what is in textbooks in this country. In this country, we try to have textbooks that don't include hate speech, for example. We don't censor hate speech, we just don't make school teachers teach it. Makes sense, doesn't it.

Re:Perhaps I'm unclear on the concept

In short, what you are missing is that left-wingers like to dictate what is in textbooks in this country.

I beg your pardon, did I also misinterpret the part where right wingers are bringing economic pressure to bear to force textbook publishers to partake in anti-intellectualism? That couple in Texas who do everything they can to have get biblical teachings into science texts, for instance, in place of scientific findings? Not to mention the various movements to outlaw the teaching of evolution over the years, and the more recent movement to have Intelligent Design treated as science.

If we interpret the effort to influence what is published as "dictating what is in textbooks", we are thinking too simplisticly. Expecting science textbooks to contain factual information that was derived through scientific research is hardly dictating in the context you used the word, whereas a law banning the teaching of evolution clearly is. The same goes for history, and art, and mathematics.

Nor is it dictating to differentiate by ruling that materials for different fields of study be sequestered in textbooks dedicated to each separate field. Religion gets studied as religion, science gets studied as science. These are restrictions that are reasonable as to time, place, or manner.

Moreover, kindly take note that dictating about what goes into textbooks is decidedly lopsided. Right wingers are demanding that science texts be rewritten to be in line with religious precepts, but no left wingers are demanding that the Bible be rewritten to contain evolution. There is no movement afoot to subvert religion to the cause of science by demanding that George Gamow's cosmology or Quantum Physics or Paleontology be preached from pulpits during Sunday services.

We don't censor hate speech, we just don't make school teachers teach it. Makes sense, doesn't it.

No; how are you supposed to recognize something that you've never been taught to recognize? If children are taught how to recognize hatred and why its precepts are so bankrupt, they'd be less likely to be seduced by it when they get older, don't you think?

What's going on in Iraq with banning textbooks from the Hussein era is almost certainly revisionism. And I can just bet that any new textbooks are going to printed under a very fat contract by some American publisher.

Re:Perhaps I'm unclear on the concept

"That couple in Texas who do everything they can to have get biblical teachings into science texts, for instance, in place of scientific findings?"

There has been religious people who try to take over the schools for at least 50 years in Texas, back when the Democrats were in charge. It may surprise you to learn that we still teach evolution in our biology classes here in Texas, and there are many, many, many Republicans who disagree with religious nuts. The fundamentalists do scare me, but they haven't had much effect in the schools, actually.

More to the point of your original post, the religious groups in Iraq who want a say now are not neo-conservatives, or pro-Bush people, but rather more like Islamic fundamentalists. From what I read, they want to make Iraq into a religious state and make the schools into religious schools. This is not good. But going back to all the Sadam textbooks is not good either. Yes, Sadam was a secularist, but also he was not big on telling students the truth.

"how are you supposed to recognize something that you've never been taught to recognize? If children are taught how to recognize hatred and why its precepts are so bankrupt, they'd be less likely to be seduced by it when they get older, don't you think?"

Yes I do, but going back to Sadam's textbooks would not teach them that. He was full of hatred and forced teachers to teach hatred.

"What's going on in Iraq with banning textbooks from the Hussein era is almost certainly revisionism."

Actually, I think most of the educators in Iraq are quite liberal, especially compared to the soldiers, and they are not interested in revisionism. It has been said that the "winners" write history, but in this case the "winners" aren't the Bush administration or the neo-conservatives, but instead are groups of diverse people in Iraq. And the teachers of Iraq are not stupid. If they saw textbooks that were full of propaganda, don't you think they would complain to the United Nations?

"And I can just bet that any new textbooks are going to printed under a very fat contract by some American publisher."

American publishers tend to be very liberal people, so it might just be a good thing for them to get involved. Have you ever heard of the committees that get together and write textbooks for our schoolchildren? They tend to represent a lot of minority interests and tend to be openminded. Don't diss American publishers so easily. Maybe you would prefer the "alternative" press to be involved. I would too, but I don't think the religious fanatics in Iraq would go for that.

"Save the easily offended: ban everything."

I'm not offended by what you say. I just think that forcing Iraqi children to read Sadam's textbooks isn't right.

Although it doesn't say what exactly was taught

perhaps it was also along the lines of the Movementarians in that Simpsons episode.

Mrs. Krabappel: And who can tell me where thunder and lightning come from? Yes, Bart?
Bart: The Leader, ma'am.
Mrs. Krabappel: Very good, Bart! And who invented Morse Code?
Bart: Oh, I should know this one... the.. the Leader?
Mrs. Krabappel: Ah, correct again!

Not that blatent maybe but as historical revisionism is certainly not beyond any democratic country let alone a dictatorship it's something to be considered.

Of course anything to do with religion, especially from the US should not be given to these children.

Re:Perhaps I'm unclear on the concept

American publishers tend to be very liberal people, so it might just be a good thing for them to get involved.

Publishers are liberal primarily in regard to profit. If they were strongly liberal in their principles, then textbooks would not be subject to the censorial influences they are subjected to.

An analogous situation arises with the teachers in Iraq. If you want a model of what Iraq is most likely to become, look to Iran. There are liberals (read: moderates) there as well, but the religious police state continues nonetheless.

I just think that forcing Iraqi children to read Sadam's textbooks isn't right.

It isn't right, but it is also equally not right to force them to read the new regime's party line to the exclusion of all else.
"Everything has a place, and everything in its place."

Condemn Them Sight Unseen?

"... but going back to Sadam's textbooks would not teach them that. He was full of hatred and forced teachers to teach hatred."

I would be interested to know if you've actually seen any of these supposedly wretched textbooks? And I presume that if you have seen them, you are able to read Arabic or Farsi or whatever language they are in?

You would so easily conclude that Iraqi textbooks published before 2004 were full of hatred, even though prior to our 2003 invasion there were zero Iraqi terrorists? Whatever else Hussein was, he was a secularist and he did not allow the kind of madrases that our 'friends' in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan still operate to this day. Your blind acceptance that 'if it was Hussein's it must be evil' sounds like superstitious, magical belief to me.

It will be interesting to find out what all these textbooks are teaching. And to see if a big fat contract is awarded to an American publisher. More interesting still to see if an American publisher is going to produce textbooks for an Islamic fundamentalist state, the new Iraq.

Re:Condemn Them Sight Unseen?

"It will be interesting to find out what all these textbooks are teaching."

Let me point you to an article in the Harvard International Review, Vol. 26, 2005, entitled "Rewriting the Textbooks: Education Policy in Post-Hussein Iraq" by Tina Wang:

"When Hussein and the Baath party rose to powe
in the 1970s, the Iraqi education system became one of indoctrination. The clearest proof, by far, is found in the textbooks written during the period. . . .

"According to a New York Times article on October 1, 2003, an elementary school teacher at the Tigris School for Girls in Baghdad said of Hussein, 'We had to include him in every lesson plan or we'd be in trouble with the Baath Party'". . . .

"Iraqi education bas been limited to government-imposed education practices, which are heavily focused on memorization, recitation, and regurgitation of information. Hussein considered tbe Ministry of Education an important branch of government for the Baath party and used education as a means of ensuring tbe loyalty and obedience of the youth to tbe government, particularly those born after he came to power in 1979". . . .
"The curriculum left no room for students to develop critical and analytical tbinking skills or to engage in debate and discussions. The creativity and innovativeness of teachers and students have been stifled."

I think you'll find, if you do a little reading, that educators worldwide were more than aware of how bad those textbooks were.

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