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on July 19, 2004
I doubt there's any US History textbooks more excitingly written for kids age 9-12 than Joy Hakim's. (Her series is the one used in one of the best private schools in Silicon Valley.) They're glossy and beautiful, and well-nigh irresistible. What an incredible shame. What's the problem? The problem is they contain a version of history so slanted as to amount to an utterly shameless propagandizing of children. I'm a liberal atheist, but, really, her books should be sealed into a time capsule, to entertain future historians.
I assume Hakim simply doesn't know any better, but even a Marxist with a PhD in American History would blush a little to discover that a child reading this series would never suspect that close to 100 million innocent men, women, and children died under the yoke of socialist regimes, nor that a third of the world was plunged into an unnecessary grinding poverty for decades. On the other hand, they will learn, as they should, that National Socialism murdered six million innocents, and that the Ku Klux Klan `grew hugely' in the 1920s. But they won't learn that any other serious totalitarian movements also grew hugely in the 1920s, or that five million innocents died under the rule of Lenin's first experiment in socialism in the 1920s.
On the contrary, all anti-Communism in the twentieth century is presented as nothing better than a witch-hunt. Indeed, anti-communism is literally referred to as a `witch-hunt,' several times. Come on. So, was the fight against Hitler's National Socialism a `witch-hunt'? Why such a palpable double standard for twin evils? Hakim teaches children that while National Socialism was indeed a real and present danger, and even worth waging an unprecedented World War to fight it, on the other hand, international socialism, or Communism, was, as she tells it, never any real danger to Americans.
For instance, there's a chapter on the HUAC hearings in which McCarthy is referred to as a 'liar' about a half a dozen times. The chapter literally begins with the opening sentence "Joe McCarthy was a liar." Sure, he's controversial, but the latest research by historians just doesn't back up Hakim's wild-eyed account of liberal anti-socialism in America as nothing better than a nefarious `witch-hunt' conducted by `liars' and oppressors. Totalitarian Communist Lillian Hellman is profiled as a hero, and the overall impression is given that none of these people really were Communists, but, instead, were all just as falsely accused as the supposed `witches' of Salem.
This conclusion is then used to prove the statement that Americans are a fundamentally paranoid people, who basically lose their marbles very once in a while. (See book "Not Without Honor." on McCarthy and PBS documentary on Salem to find out why even Salem wasn't actually paranoia after all, but a toxic crop of moldy rye.)