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Why Learn From History When You Can Just Erase It?
From the AP, Japan's putting out high school textbooks with a sanitized version of history:

Japan's government ordered changes to seven history textbooks that said the country's army forced civilians to commit mass suicide at the end of World War II, amid moves by Tokyo to soften brutal accounts of its wartime conduct.

...In one of the key correction orders announced Friday, seven history textbooks were ordered to modify sections that said the Japanese army — faced with an impending U.S. invasion in 1945 — handed out grenades to residents on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa and ordered them to kill themselves rather than surrender to the Americans.

"There are divergent views of whether or not the suicides were ordered by the army, and no proof to say either way. So it would be misleading to say the army was responsible," said Education Ministry official Yumiko Tomimori.

The publishers of the textbooks, slated for use in high schools next year, have been asked to make relevant changes and submit them for approval by a government-appointed expert panel, said.

Accounts of forced group suicides on Okinawa are backed up by historical research, as well as testimonies from victims' relatives. Historians also say civilians were induced by government propaganda to believe U.S. soldiers would commit horrible atrocities, thereby killing themselves and their families to avoid capture.

But in recent years, some academics have questioned whether the suicides were forced — part of a general push by Japanese conservatives to soften criticism of Tokyo's wartime conduct.

In the UK also, history is being cleaned up (No more Holocaust! Bye-bye, Crusades!) to keep from offending Muslims whose beliefs include Holocaust denial, and for whom lessons about the Crusades might contradict what they're taught in local mosques. And even the Christians got into the revisionistic act! From a story by Laura Clark in the Daily Mail:

The report concluded: "In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship."

But Chris McGovern, history education adviser to the former Tory government, said: "History is not a vehicle for promoting political correctness. Children must have access to knowledge of these controversial subjects, whether palatable or unpalatable."

The researchers also warned that a lack of subject knowledge among teachers - particularly at primary level - was leading to history being taught in a 'shallow way leading to routine and superficial learning'.

Lessons in difficult topics were too often 'bland, simplistic and unproblematic' and bored pupils.

You know, if you can't deal with real life in the post-Enlightenment west, with freedom of speech and free and open societies -- perhaps you belong elsewhere...in those special societies where there's tight control over "history," textbooks, and the press.

Posted by aalkon at April 3, 2007 7:02 AM

Comments

Hey, get with the program. Oldthinkers unbellyfeel ingsoc. Consult your newspeak dictionary. It's the next logical step in any government seeking more power - though it shows less finesse than one allowing the freedom of speech to sate the public, happy to submit to all kinds of restrictions so long as they can complain about it. Or being totally fooled by "political correctness", that peculiar method of lying by which the contents of the toilet bowl may be picked up by the clean end if it's called by a different name.

History starts now. If you'd like to see a better example of social stupidity, ask around using the actual language of the Constitution.

Posted by: Radwaste at April 3, 2007 2:35 AM

I'm not especially surprised to hear of historical revisionism by the Japanese. But avoiding a discussion of the holocaust in the U.K.? Are you fucking kidding me? The same nation that resolutely stood up to daily bombings by the Luftwaffe caves to immigrants who might be upset to learn the truth about what happened during that war? What a travesty.

Posted by: justin case at April 3, 2007 8:38 AM

Seperation of School and State !!

Posted by: Jon at April 3, 2007 12:59 PM

Can someone give me any reason to be hopeful that the West hasn't already lost? I mean, if Europe is willing to give in to the Islamists this easily, then everything we've done since 9/11 really WAS a waste of time.

It's news like this that makes me glad I have no children.

Posted by: brian at April 4, 2007 6:19 AM

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