Sunday, April 24, 2016

245.3 - Outrage of the Week: censoring a textbook

Outrage of the Week: censoring a textbook

And now for our other regular feature, this is the Outrage of the Week.

The Outrage of the Week this week is a tiny bit anachronistic because it involves something that happened over a month ago, but which I just learned of a few days ago.

Textbook publisher McGraw-Hill Education had put out a a college-level political science textbook called Global Politics: Engaging a Complex World. It was described as "stress[ing] the importance of global events and offer[ing] students a number of lenses through which to view the world around them." Which seems like a laudable goal and suggests embracing the ability to recognize that not everyone views the world in the same way, the different people can interpret events and histories differently, and dealing with those differences is part of what's involved in "engaging a complex world."

However, it seems that in one area, such recognition of differences are not be allowed.

In a discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the book contains a graphic of four maps, intended to illustrate the loss of Palestinian land over the past 70 years. There is some legitimate dispute about whether the maps accurately reveal what they say they do - one of those matters of different people having different interpretations of the same history - although, interestingly, it appears that no one claims that the last map, showing bits and pieces of Palestinian-controlled land engulfed by Israeli-controlled land, is inaccurate.

The point here, is that the idea of a "legitimate dispute" was unacceptable to the pro-Israel fanatics because it's not in line with Israeli government propaganda. So, no, these maps weren't one of "a number of lenses through which to view" the conflict, they were all LIES! Anti-Israel LIES! And if it's anti-Israel, why by definition that makes them anti-Semitic LIES!

Some of the complaints about these "mendacious maps" seem trivial - such as attacking the first map on the grounds that no one called them "Palestinians" at that time and the second on the grounds that the UN partition plan it shows was never actually implemented; some are head-scratchers - such as objecting to the third map on the grounds that there was no "Palestinian-controlled land" because there was no actual Palestinian state; and some are just out-of-their-minds nuts - like the claim the fourth map shows actual "Palestinian-controlled lands" but that was because Israel created them in some other-worldly act of kindness and generosity toward the Palestinians. But none of that matters, because the maps are LIES!

So what did McGraw-Hill Education do? According to a spokeswoman, "As soon as we learned about the concerns with it, we placed sales of the book on hold and immediately initiated an academic review. The review determined that the map did not meet our academic standards." She even lamely added that the company really, truly, we pinkie-swear that we have no idea how those maps got in there in the first place.

The book was withdrawn and is being destroyed.

In other words, McGraw-Hill Education ran - "as soon as" complaints were made, they "immediately" reacted - the company ran to allow pro-Israel partisan zealots to censor its textbook. Because there are some lenses through which you are not to be allowed to look.

In an open letter to McGraw-Hill Education, over three dozen respected Palestinian, Israeli, and American academics called on the publisher to reverse what they called a "shocking and unacceptable" "blatant act of censorship."

I call it an outrage.

Sources cited in links:

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