On March 15, 2014, State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) told The Anniston Star that he strongly objected to several inclusions in a high school literature textbook for messages that he considers to undermine "American values."
Chief among Beason's gripes is the inclusion of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, based on a sidebar which asks students to compare the events depicted in the play with Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt in the early 1950s.
According to Beason, this is unfair because Joseph McCarthy "-turned out to be right."
Speaking personally as someone who actually lived in Salem, MA, I have been made very familiar with The Crucible and can provide the cheat sheet for this sidebar challenge:
- In both the Witch Trials and the Red Scare, there were actual practitioners (or at least people willing to profess to doing so).
- Most of the accused, however, were innocent.
- The scope of the Trials / Scare expanded as it did through false accusations. Many victims of the Witch Trials had been accused of witchcraft by individuals with whom there had previously been legal or personal disputes, while Joseph McCarthy predominantly levied accusations of Communism against his most recent critics and detractors.
That last point may be an especially sore spot for the American Taliban as it could also be applied to the Religious Reich today.
Beason's full list of grievances with the curriculum follows the A.T.'s typical pattern of taking great offense to the very existence of opinions contrary to their own.
Beason also objects to an essay by John Muir, which is critical of "those who are wealthy and steal timber wholesale," which Beason insists does not represent "American values."
Beason also objects to an excerpt from John Hersey’s Hiroshima because it tells the story of the atomic bomb "from the Japanese view," which creates "a lack of balance that undermines American values."
Beason even takes issue with an excerpt from Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried because its narrator expresses regret for killing a North Vietnamese soldier.
"What is the message that’s being put across?" Beason asked. "Is it that we were the bad guys in Vietnam, or was it that we were the good guys in Vietnam? I think we’re the good guys. But I don't get that out of this argument, I mean, of this story."
How about "war is wasteful" for a message? Would it really be too hard for Beason to accept that everything isn't always a clear distinction between absolute good and absolute evil?
Ultimately, this is Beason's problem: The textbook encourages critical thinking. And as anyone in the American Taliban will tell you, critical thinking is for pinko commie America-haters.