Yesterday, I wrote about the AP U.S. History textbook By the People that calls President Trump and his core supporters “racists” and suggests that the president is “mentally unstable.” Today, I want to write about James W. Fraser, the author of this egregiously biased left-wing book.
Stanley Kurtz blew the whistle on Fraser a year ago. Rereading Stanley’s piece made my blood boil, just as it was simmering down.
Fraser isn’t just a hard-leftist. Stanley shows that, at a minimum, he’s a communist sympathizer. That phrase went out of style decades ago, perhaps for the best. But applying it to Fraser actually gives him the benefit of the doubt.
[Fraser’s] most striking claim [in his contribution to the book “Mentoring the Mentor: A Critical Dialogue with Paulo Freire”] is that the textbooks used under Eastern European Communism were excellent in substance, even if their lessons were hammered home too harshly by teachers: “…in their critique of capitalism and imperialism, in their sophisticated approach to anti-Semitism, Fascism, and revolutionary struggle — [Eastern European communist textbooks] represented a very liberating view of the world…But sadly the pedagogy was as repressive as the content was liberating.”
This is a stunning claim. Fraser believes that if only Eastern Europeans had taught communism in a less authoritarian manner, a public freed from the Soviet yoke might not have rejected communism for capitalism. That is, Fraser sees the turn to capitalism by Eastern Europe as an avoidable “tragedy” caused by the unnecessarily harsh teaching methods of communist schools.
Unfortunately for AP students, Fraser’s textbook seems like an attempt to succeed where Eastern European Communist educators failed.
Stanley calls Fraser’s praise for Eastern European textbooks “deluded.” It’s also quite frightening:
The content of Eastern European textbooks was every bit as authoritarian as communist pedagogy. Those textbooks, for example, included poems inspiring children to report even their best friends to the authorities for violations of party dictates.
Those textbooks taught that no one is allowed to have “purely personal cares and difficulties in a socialist collective,” and denounced Germans who tried to escape over the Berlin Wall. East German textbooks instilled hatred for the “capitalist and imperialist” United States, which was painted in nightmare colors. Or is this the content Fraser considers “liberating”?
And what of Paulo Freire, Fraser’s “mentor”? He was a Marxist. Freire’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed sought a pedagogy capable of inspiring the overthrow of capitalist hegemony and its replacement by a classless society. According to Stanley, Fraser’s contribution to the book lionizing Freire shows him to be a faithful acolyte of his mentor.
Not surprisingly, then, Fraser rejects the notion of the teacher as an even-handed purveyor of knowledge. Instead, “the teacher must begin with a commitment to social and political liberation.” Education is a form of “revolutionary struggle.”
So is Fraser’s AP U.S. History textbook. Fraser’s attack on Trump and his supporters, disgusting as it is, expresses mainstream liberal talking points. But the book is more radical than that. Says Stanley, it “present[s] every leftist movement of the time in glowing, uncritical terms.”
Conservatives, and not just those who support Trump, are savaged repeatedly:
Opposition to Clintoncare and Obamacare is said to be fueled by selfish insurance interests, not policy arguments. While leftists are presented via their own most inspiring rhetoric, conservatives’ actions are framed by quotes from their critics.
Again and again, Fraser portrays conservatives as heartless racists and sexists. He mischaracterizes the GOP’s “southern strategy,” and explains opposition to Hillary Clinton as the product of sexism. Concerns about crime are dismissed as code for racial bigotry. Controversies over single motherhood and conservative stances on social issues are treated as simple heartlessness or antiquated religiosity, rather than concern over family decline.
On abortion, opponents are not in favor of the right to life but said to be “opposed to abortion rights.” For Fraser, there’s no such thing as illegal immigrants, only those who came to the United States “without official approval.”
It’s scandalous that the international education giant Pearson entrusted a relentlessly leftist ideologue and admirer of Communist era Eastern European textbooks with the task of writing its AP U.S. History book. Any school in which the book is used should be the target of vigorous protests. The political blowback should be fierce.