An organization promoting American history says that the most widely used history book ever is jam-packed with partisanship and historical revisionism.
The group, the Education and Research Institute (E&RI) made the claim in its new report titled, “Liberal Bias and Textbooks.” The report is available here.
The book in question is The American Pageant. The book was first published in 1956 and has been updated and expanded over the decades into the current 17th edition, having been read by tens of millions, being especially popular in Advanced Placement (AP) courses.
E&RI says it did a first-of-its-kind quantitative and qualitative analysis to measure the book’s objectivity. Report author Daniel Oliver previously served as General Counsel for the Department of Education under President Ronald Reagan, as Chairman of the FTC, and Executive Editor of National Review.
The problem is that The American Pageant is a thoroughly unreliable narrator of U.S. history.
The American Pageant indulges in wildly revisionist historiography by glossing over the achievements and policies of Republican presidential administrations, while inflating their Democratic counterparts to superhuman levels. The textbook authors strive for a polite correctness that sacrifices mainstream historical narratives in favor of token identity politics and ends up veering far away from the common threads that unite our country. Where editorialized opinions are presented, they are repeatedly written with a partisan bias, tarnishing everyone from 20th century conservative icons to current incumbents of the nation’s highest offices.
Democratic presidents from the 20th century are mentioned twice as often as Republican presidents, with the Democrats shown as “destined for greatness and Republicans as bumbling idiots.”
Coverage of 20th century politics is skewed towards left leaning Presidents and policies by simple means of omission. A rhetorical analysis finds that The American Pageant mentions each Democratic administration an average of 124 times, compared to an average of 71 mentions for their Republican counterparts. If the depth of coverage in American Pageant is to be taken at face value, Woodrow Wilson’s time in office was more historically significant than any Republican administration of the 20th century. Indeed, American Pageant’s most detailed coverage of Republican politics is reserved for the presidency of Richard Nixon, in a chapter that gives far more weight to the Watergate investigation than conservative principles or Nixon’s significant legislative achievements.
21st century Republican President Donald Trump is not handled well either, the report says: “New York City real estate mogul and reality-television personality Donald J. Trump bullied, belittled, and bamboozled sixteen rivals to snag – some said hijacked – the Republican nomination. His legions of critics, including many Republican grandees, considered the brash billionaire a swaggering colossus of ignorance, vanity, and vulgarity.”
“The American Pageant reads like 1,000 pages of left-wing propaganda, designed to inculcate students with a warped view of the United States,” said E&RI Chairman Daniel Oliver.
The Education and Research Institute is a tax-exempt, educational organization founded in 1974. Its purpose is to create greater awareness and understanding of America’s history and traditional values.
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