The latest on the California textbook controversy

September 6, 2006

The HAF lawsuit has produced an interesting result: one that allows all sites to claim victory on points. I suspect that is what the court was in fact trying to do: leave everybody with something that they could highlight to their supporters.

Having said this, the core issue, that of the impact of deliberate anti-Hindu propaganda, on sensitive Hindu children in the US, remains up in the air. The same textbooks that have the distortions in them will continue to be used by the school districts for the foreseeable future, although the court has rapped the CBE’s knuckles for poor procedure. And the court has dismissed the locus standi of the usual suspect rabble-rousers in this instance. Thus, as I said elsewhere, a half-victory.

What is entertaining in context is the fact that almost simultaneously, Chinese textbooks have dropped almost all references to the great Mao Tse-Tung. This, I suspect, is giving the leading lights of the Left in India sleepless nights, as their Great Leader is being declared as a god with clay feet by his own countrymen. What of the CPI-M which famously declared that Chairman Mao is “our Chairman”? The delicious irony is that the only places where Marxism still exists are:

  • Cuba (with the imminent demise of Fidel Castro this will change)
  • West Bengal
  • Kerala
  • Nepal
  • The Maoist corridor from Nepal to Andhra Pradesh
  • The BBC, and India’s ELM

That’s it!

Venezuela is not Marxist per se, merely anti-American and nationalist. And even though Marxism has become an expression of Chinese imperialism, and the rotting corpse of Mao is a ghoulish stop on trips to Beijing, China itself is declaring that it has outgrown the idiocies of this murderous ideology.

Marxism is now strictly for the consumption of others whom China hopes to dominate in its goal of world conquest, and this is where the “useful idiots” continue to be China’s storm-troopers.

“Do as we preach, not as we do” — says China now. In this, they have finally become the equal of the Americans, who have long been the champions of moralizing: they want all of us to listen to their rhetoric of free trade and so forth, but the moment we do free trade, they don’t like it because it gives them no advantage. Quite hypocritical, indeed.

Underground processes, Hostile academics
By Ari Saja

11 Responses to “The latest on the California textbook controversy”

  1. Randhir Says:

    Congrats on the new blog Rajeev.

  2. Ramdak Says:

    Congrats on the new blog.

    Please consider doing something about the centre alignment. It’s a shame to waste so much screen space and it actually is difficult to read. Everything feels so congested.

  3. RSK Says:

    Here is unbelievable garbage printed by the Toilet paper of India. It is astounding how shameless these bastards are.,curpg-1.cms

    NEW DELHI: In India, a sharply divided community of historians has failed to resolve the controversy about history textbooks.

    But in a similar controversy in US, a crucial affidavit by eminent historian and president of the Indian History Congress, D N Jha, in the superior court of the state of California played a major role in the court dismissing the petition of Hindu American Foundation against the California State Board of Education (CSBE).

    The matter in US relates to the Class 6 ancient history textbook. When the book came out, HAF protested against the content relating to the caste system, women and deities, origin of Aryans apart from alleging that the book was generally anti-Hindu.

    One of the main points of contention by HAF was that the textbook should give equal weightage to the theory that Aryans originated in India, as they do to the Aryan migration theory.

    Opposed to HAF, Friends of South Asia (FSA), another US-based organisation, supported the contents of the book. CSBE first set up a curriculum review committee of Michael Witzel (Harvard), Stanley Wolpert (UCLA) and James Heitzman (UC Davis). Based on their recommendation, when CSBE did not entertain HAF’s protest, the latter sued the education board.

    A host of organisations like FSA, Ambedkar Center for Justice and Peace and others filed amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief in the court.

    Jha filed the affidavit on behalf of amicus and confined himself to the Aryan origin controversy. Jeffery D Long of Elizabethtown College, Pennsylvania, filed the affidavit on behalf of HAF…

    In his affidavit, Jha said, “The evidence on whether the Aryans came to India from outside or were the indigenous people is drawn mainly from linguistics and archaeology, and recently from archaeogenetics.”

    Arguing that the mature phase of the Harappan civilisation lasted from 2500 BC to 1900 BC — “much earlier than the Rigveda whose composition is placed around 1500 BC” — Jha said: “The technology, crafts and commerce of the Harappans are also not reflected in the Rigveda, nor does it bear testimony to the existence of their planned urban settlements and large structures built of burnt bricks.”

    Giving a hint of the Aryan origin debate in India, Jha asked the court not to fall for the “indigenous Aryan” claim since it has led to “demonisation of Muslims and Christians as foreigners and to the near denial of the contributions of non-Hindus to Indian culture”.

  4. Ghost Writer Says:


    I have to disagree with you that the court gave each party something to celebrate. In the long term the decision is one that is damaging our cause, because it will allow retention of objectionable content even after SBE has fixed it’s illegal process . Consider the following points

    1- The court has held that the process leading to the adoption of conetents was not ‘kosher’ per legal standards; at best a moral vicotry. It then denies the fruits of such victory (withdrawl of text book) by saying the text books should continue while the SBE sorts out it’s process – for otherwise students who had nothing to do with how the books were selected will be effected. Worse other text books (not just the ones in the litigation) will be called into question. I quote from the judgement
    “This court’s ruling that respondent has been conducting its textbook approval process under an invalid regulatory framework has serious consequences, in that it potentially calls into question the validity of decisions adopting many more textbooks than merely the few sixth-grade texts at issue here, even though the substance of those other texts was not challenged here. Vast numbers of educators and students thus could be affected by the Court’s ruling. Even if the effect of this ruling were limited to merely the sixth-grade textbooks challenged here, a significant number of persons still would be affected. The parties to this action no doubt would agree that having textbooks available for the coming school year (which in some districts may already have commenced) is a matter of critical importance to those persons, and would further agree that those persons bear no evident responsibility for the deficiencies in respondent’s regulatory framework”

    2- It holds that the process may have been corrupted, but the final output is per the required guidelines i.e. does not contain anything that is objectionable about Hinduism. What does this mean? It means that when SBE fixes it’s illegal adoption process, those that are inimical to our interests will say that the contents are not objectionable and should stand; and they will cite the court judgement to bolster their claim. I quote from the judgement again
    “The Court has reviewed the content of the challenged textbooks by reading in their entirety the excerpts of the texts that the parties have submitted in their requests for judicial notice. On the basis of that review, the Court finds that the challenged texts comply with the applicable legal standards as set forth above. ”

    3- The part of the judgement that the text may lead to a complete erosion of the Hindu claim going forward is this
    “The law does not insure against negative reactions or prejudices, it merely requires that the textbooks not instill them. The challenged books meet that requirement.”

    When the process for adoption of textbook materials is fixed; SBE shall refute and deny all our claims for fixing the material by citing this.

    In short 1) denies us a short term victory and 2) and 3) will be used to deny us a long term victory.

    I see no reason to celebrate.

  5. TallIndian Says:

    I grew up in the US and speak from experience as to the damage that can be done by the likes of Witzel/Jha et al.

    I still in recall in the 5th grade (circa 1965), our textbook said that Hindus worshipped cows and would still be burning widows if not for the British.

    In the 8th grade our textbook said that the overwhelming reason for poverty in India was due to the strictures of Hinduism.

    Even in college (1975), I read a paper in peer reviewed journal that said India lagged in economic growth because of Hinduism discouraged entrepeneurship.

    I was fortunate in that I had support at home and recall my father telling me in elementary school that this should be lesson in that I need to assume that not everything that I read is 100% true.

    My father also suggested back then that I ask my teacher why those same textbooks never seem to mention the religion of the German goverment from 1934 to 1945 or the religion of the rebellious government established in Richmond VA in 1861 to defend the institution of slavery.

  6. karigar Says:

    Thanks Rajiv for posting these updates on the Calif txtbk case. Of course kudos to HAF for soldiering on with the fight.
    Your link makes it clear why one “Raju Rajgopal” is posing as a “concerned parent” & essentially calling all non-psecs as “extremists. What else to expect from FOSA…

  7. karigar Says:

    Ref Raju Rajgopal’s Sanctimonious Blog

    “History or Hysteria (The Latest News):
    Hindutva History Defeated in Sacramento


    One can see how “true believers” [We are always winning!] have their ears closed, & learn to live in their own ideological world.

  8. karigar,
    I am angered by Rajgopal’s smug,psec and anti-self attitude as much as you are- but I have to stress (as in my comment above) that the judgement is detrimental to our interests.
    This is because it denies us the victory of rescinded text-books (short term) and weakens our case of having the text actually modified (long-term). ALl hope for me now hinges on the CAPEEM case.
    I am not a lawyer, but I wonder how this judgementwill influence the judge in that case – if at all

  9. karigar Says:

    good points. But if you don’t celebrate small battles, where’s the morale to fight the bigger ones?

    Moral victory was & is important for desis in US (the ones who aren’t busy regecting their “desipan”). The prestige of the anti-india crowd needs to take a beating, so that they get over their smugness. [for kicks , read my blog entry “Macaca’s fate in California hangs in balance” at ]

    Of course if you go thru the court judgement, there is a lot to be concerned about, in their being misinformed about the issues. But the HAF did say that their case (for now) was in the narrow area (of unfair process) where the court did grant victory.

    [Sorry couldn’t find the link, so here is the whole thing]
    Press Release

    HAF Legal Team Assesses Victory and Comments on Failed Brief From Anti-Hindu South Asian Group

    Representation of Hinduism in California Textbooks
    Introduction – Summary of Events – Summary of Changes – Legal Defense Fund
    HAF Assesses Victory and Comments on Failed Brief from Anti-Hindu South Asian Group – Older News

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 8, 2006) – The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) legal team continued to receive wide acclaim for the landmark ruling last week that upheld its contention that the California State Board of Education (SBE) followed an illegal process in adopting sixth grade social studies textbooks. The mixed ruling in California Superior Court, however, denied HAF’s demand that if the process followed in adopting the Hinduism section of textbooks was illegal, then all of those texts already published must be thrown out and the adoption process revisited. In a statement released today, HAF highlighted sections of the ruling that they felt had not adequately been covered in press reports thus far and responded to comments from a group that tried to oppose HAF’s efforts.

    “It’s important to reiterate that HAF at no time submitted any edits or revisions in the textbook adoption process, and HAF only entered this controversy when the SBE acted arbitrarily and behind closed doors, depriving Hindus of a fair and open process, said Suhag Shukla, Esq., legal counsel for HAF. “We knew going into the lawsuit that a good number of revisions suggested by Hindu groups had already been accepted and the books had been improved—though far from perfect—but our focus was on proving the illegality of SBE actions vis-à-vis Hindus.”

    In his extensive ruling covering the illegalities of the SBE and the merits of the texts, Judge Patrick Marlette’s first decision was to reject outright an amicus curiae, or friend of the court, brief that a coalition led by Friends of South Asia (FOSA) attempted to introduce. According to its website, FOSA sponsors activities that seek to “build Indian communism and fight the agenda of the global ruling class.” The group worked with some non-Hindu and avowedly anti-Hindu groups to file the brief together.

    A six page rebuttal from the HAF legal team to the FOSA led effort argued that the amicus brief did not provide “any substantive legal nor adequate factual support for the assertions contained in their proposed brief, relying instead on materials that are not properly subject to judicial notice, as well as several irrelevant and highly objectionable declarations.”

    Judge Marlette agreed with HAF and refused to consider the brief. With that ruling, FOSA and other anti-Hindu groups were effectively shut out of the entire legal process and their allegations played no part in the judge’s ultimate ruling. HAF leaders expressed surprise that some journalists sought out FOSA members to comment on the ruling when their anti-Hindu stance was ignored in the judge’s ruling.

    “Hindu parents worked hard in California to bring on par the representation of the religion they practice with the presentation of other major world religions in the textbooks,” said Swaminathan Venkataraman, a member of the HAF Executive Council. “While FOSA’s devotion to communism may force it to repudiate all religion, it is ironic that they reflexively opposed only Hindu efforts in the name of ‘secularism’—completely ignoring major revisions to sections covering other faiths prevalent in South Asia including Christianity, Islam and Judaism—and tragic that it also ran an ugly communal campaign by co-opting non-Hindu groups to openly oppose Hindu parents and students.” Sections of the texts on the other three religions were significantly modified in response to comments from the Institute for Curriculum Services, the Anti-Defamation League and the National Council of Jewish Women, and the Council on Islamic Education.

    HAF leaders also criticized again the SBE process that illegally allowed Michael Witzel, a professor at Harvard University who teaches linguistics, to accuse only Hindus of sectarianism and act as a reviewer even after Professor Shiva Bajpai, Professor Emeritus of religion and history from California State University-Northridge had already reviewed the proposed edits and corrections to the textbooks.

    “Allowing Prof. Witzel to poison the process with his ugly accusations of sectarianism was only the first error in an illegal SBE process,” said Shukla. “With this ruling, Hindu Americans have collectively demonstrated that we will never again accept unequal or discriminatory treatment instigated by the overt hostility of a cabal of anti-Hindu academics. Hindus must insist that a panel of professors who actually teach, and in many cases even practice Hinduism, such as those that supported HAF in the lawsuit, must be included in the process over those that are antagonistic to practicing Hindus.”

    Academics who supported HAF’s contention that there are significant inaccuracies and discrepancies in the Hinduism section of the textbooks included a past president of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and current co-chairs of the Hinduism Unit of the AAR.

  10. Ghost Writer Says:

    @ karigar,
    After figuring out how to change my display name – here is my reply to your post

    I dont know what you mean by shedding “desipan” – but if Desipan means celebrating hollow moral victories then you take the cake. Thank you for giving me the HAF press release – which I could also have found here

    Since I have already conceded the point about FOSA not being allowed a hearing of Amicus Curiae , and also the Judge upholding the issue of the illegal process by SBE – let us not visit the issue.

    Where in this press release are my two main concerns addressed? For your benefit these are presented again
    1- The Judge found that the books accurately represented Hinduism – as per the define standard; the illegal process notwithstanding
    2- In future (i.e. when the illegal process is fixed) fora like the FOSA, Witzel et al. shall refer back to this judgement and say “See – even a judge agrees that we are right, so please do not change the texts”.

    The effect of this judgement is to legalise prospectively, that which is an outcome of an illegal process. Hence you will be able to fix the process but unable to fix the text-books in the future.

    Hence my remark that there is no cause to celebrate. Of course, you are free to celebrate to your heart’s content!

  11. karigar Says:

    Thanks for the response.

    My attempt is to get a positive “take” of the situation, & apparently you don’t buy that.

    I don’t disagree this could be a “Pyhrric victory” in Sandhya Jain’s words, or that your misgivings “The effect of this judgement is to legalise prospectively, ..fix the process but unable to fix the text-books in the future” may not come to pass.

    I think, though , that I’d like to give credit to HAF & the others for the achievements so far, as having established some springboard for further interest.

    The days are now numbered, of Witzel & his cronies’ inserting themselves into these processes, as they have been shown as illegal, over and above being uncouth, unethical, etc.

    Specific to HAF, it filed the case primarily on grounds of “violation of due process”. Being a bunch of smart lawyers, they probably had a good idea how (& how much) to present in the scope of the case. So they didn’t over-reach, & got this limited “victory”. The CAPEEM lawsuit (don’t have much of a feel of the details) should definitely be interesting.

    While I agree that the judge’s comments noted by you give good cause for worry, I suspect they are more gratuitous (beyond the case’s scope)than of future relevance. It just goes to show how ill informed Western intelligentsia are about “hinduism”, but they don’t hesitate in weighing in with their opinions nevertheless. My take anyway, & I’m not a legal expert by any means.

    Regarding your “I don’t know what you mean by shedding “desipan” – but if Desipan means celebrating hollow moral victories then you take the cake.”

    The ‘rejecting their desipan ‘ was & is meant for the FOSA/FOIL & also other indifferent types who say “how dies this matter to me?”. [Hope you didn’t think it was meant for you, as you seem to be very concerned, & rightly so.]

    & I wouldn’t quite go for your “cake” analogy, but a breadcrumb is more likely…moral victories don’t seem like much, but they matter in the long run.


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