This wasn't the only textbook tempest, and it may not be the last. Not only are Chinese authorities bracing for further protests, but just before this week's marches, Japan objected that China's patriotic education breeds anti-Japanese sentiments, and South Korea castigated the Japanese textbooks for allegedly trying to justify a colonialist past.
Although it may yet be decades before the three countries agree on history, they have long shared a common trait that helps explain how revisions can stir such deep emotions. Their students learn history through government-approved textbooks that are, especially with nationalism rising in all three countries, useful tools in shaping national identities. Since the textbooks require the central government's imprimatur, they are taken as a reflection of the views of the current leaders.
"In all three countries, there is a tendency to propagandize history," said Jee Soo Gol, a professor of history education at Kongju National University in South Korea...
Given the scrutiny and Japan's comparatively long record of democracy, the textbooks here are perhaps more balanced than others in the region. China's textbooks, for instance, teach that Chinese resistance, not the United States, defeated Japan in the war; they say nothing of the postwar Great Leap Forward, in which some 30 million Chinese died because of Mao Zedong's misguided agrarian policies.
Now, from the Washington State Civics curruciulum...
Inquiry, Information, & Group Process
❐ I selected a public issue.
❐ I made sure that the issue…
relates to our democratic ideals.*
relates to constitutional rights, protections, and responsibilities.*
involves people with a variety of perspectives on this issue.
* I reviewed the following list and connected the appropriate beliefs and principles to the issue I am studying.
Our democratic ideals are:
• Pursuit of Happiness
• Common Good
• Popular Sovereignty
Constitutional Principles are:
• Rule of Law
• Separation of Powers
• Representative Government
• Checks and Balances
• Civil Rights
• Human Rights
I'd prefer to quote from textbooks, but suffice it to say the practical effect of the above in Washington State is to paint a rosy view of American history.
"Patriotism" in particular is hardly a "democratic" ideal, and in fact, the democratic tendencies of the constitution are deliberatley thwarted, to prevent mob rule.
But no matter: democracy goood. US goood.
Japan's nationalist propaganda baaad. China's nationalist propaganda baaad.