How biased can school textbooks be?

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By Zack Downing, Staff Writer

While the internet has been swimming with fake news since the 2016 election, the mainstream media hasn’t been the picture of perfection to counter it. FOX News has been consistently biased towards Donald Trump, and every other news network has been at least a little biased against him. 

While bias from the media is standard fare, you don’t expect to find the same kind of slant in a place like a history book. However, a high school AP History book titled “By the People” (5th edition) has many conservatives up in arms over what they claim is anti-Trump bias. 

Written by James Fraser, this new edition of the book covers the 2016 election and the Black Lives Matter movement. As pointed out in tweets by a radio personality from Indianapolis named “Alex On-Air”, there are indeed many instances of questionable writing in the coverage of Trump.  

The book says that Clinton supporters feared Trump’s “mental instability” and that the election might be determined by “people who were afraid of a rapidly developing ethnic diversity”. It also claimed that Trump was wielding a “not so hidden racism” and that his campaign was tearing the nation’s social fabric. 

Conversely, Hillary Clinton is treated as the well-meaning candidate that fell to America’s racism. While she’s never explicitly praised, her email scandal was barely touched upon and the Benghazi incident was not discussed. 

Now, the touchy opinions about Trump sure are out of place in an AP textbook, but I think the glossing-over of Hillary’s issues are the bigger deal. 

The story of Clinton’s catastrophic failure to defeat such an unqualified candidate is fascinating, and begs to be covered in a history textbook. One cannot spend a chapter ragging on Trump and conclude with, “well, he won anyway”. 

Believe it or not, there will be kids in the future who know very little about the 2016 election, and without a complete coverage of both sides of the race, they’ll be baffled as to how Clinton lost. 

It’s simply a fact that her deletion of 30,000 emails was an objectively bad action that probably lost her the election. The Benghazi scandal was also instrumental in giving her an evil reputation, and even though it was before 2016, it’s necessary to mention for context. 

Trump’s election is a very dense topic, and though there’s a lot to cover, you can’t leave large details like the email scandal out just because you want Hillary to look like she deserved the win. 

That being said, the inclusion of those words against Trump (tearing the social fabric, afraid of diversity) are somewhat necessary as well. People who didn’t live through the election won’t understand the social context of the race and his supporters’ feelings, assuming America heads in a more progressive direction a century from now. 

A lot of these opinions do represent the atmosphere of the election, and to an extent, represent the truth. However, it’s an educator’s responsibility to only present the facts as facts and the sentiments as sentiments, not to explicitly say that Trump was tearing the nation’s social fabric. 

All that needs to be done in that case is to present the feelings of both supporters as feelings. Including a segment about what each side’s supporters thought of the other side is an easy way to include opinions without selling them as fact. 

Tell the readers that Hillary’s supporters thought Trump was a racist while Trump’s supporters thought Hillary was a liar, and then explain the reasons behind each. Even if you agree with one side, and even if that side is probably the right side, it’s essential to include every angle in a textbook, especially when those angles shaped history so acutely. 

Details about the 2016 election could fill encyclopedias, and it’s almost incomprehensible that textbooks of the future will probably have to relegate it to only one page. There may be countless moments that don’t make it into the history books, but Hillary’s email scandal can’t be erased. Kids of the future must know that it wasn’t just Caucasian America that won Trump the election, it was Hillary that lost it. 

Photo Courtesy: CBN

 

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