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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How a Texas Vote Nov. 4 Will Impact America’s Education

There is one Texas vote on November 4 that will actually have a national impact across America, for good or bad. It will impact our ability to lead in the 21st Century – because America’s children may end up remaining ignorant as a result of a strictly Texas vote. That will not bode well for our future.

The Republican candidate for the State Board of Education showed a photo of the Democrat candidate in front of the Taj Mahal and claimed “she supported teaching our children Islam!”

This is incredibly silly -- the Taj Mahal is in INDIA and 80% of Indians are HINDU, a totally separate religion from Islam! The building is a shrine by a king for his dead wife. That’s it.

I know because I have been to India and took a taxi down from New Delhi to see the Taj Mahal—during a Fortune 500 negotiating trip many years ago. How many Americans know this? We are dirt ignorant about the world we expect to lead. This Texas education vote is important to America’s future (and the world’s) because it will either keep us (as an entire country) dirt ignorant -- or it will give our kids a real education they will need for our country to succeed.

Ignorance doesn’t help us. It even hurts our friends. When conservatives pray "in the name of Jesus" they have no idea that they are actually insulting their JEWISH guests! I know most of them have no idea that they are being insulting, but they are. We need kids taught about all the world’s religions, not just one. America is a nation of many religions – why should only one be taught to school kids? That narrowness leads to ignorance and mistakes.

Syria is supposed to be Islamic right? And yet outside the city I found open Christian churches that date back to the time of Christ. The people still speak the original Aramaic. I visited Christian churches that still had the secret entrance in the back where Christians entered in the days after it started as a faith. Today, you enter through a normal entrance in the front. Yes, you can go to a Christian church in Muslim Syria. It is less than an hour drive from Damascus.

Because Texas’ education decisions on things like textbooks tend to get spread across America (because of the number of books bought), if the Democrat Laura Ewing loses the vote for the Texas State Board of Education (which is possible in ‘red’ Texas), America’s children will remain ignorant about these other religions that our people and leadership must know in dealing with them. Will it be leadership that forgets when America bombs Syria that it is generating problems for local Christians there -- and creating more enemies for America, not less? How many Americans know that the Islamic Koran reveres both Jesus and Mary?

Without knowledge of the world's religions, our children will be unprepared to lead. Hinduism and Islam are but two of many religions in the world. Don’t forget there are Buddhists, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, a growing religious movement in China, etc. What do you know about them?

Now the term “Muslim” is being used like a code word for the “N word.” That is also wrong. Radical Islam is very different from ordinary Muslims. America’s Lack of Global Education will be our undoing if we don’t upgrade our education to the global level it needs to be for us to navigate the 21st Century with awareness and strategy instead of blind pre-conceived guessing and misinformation.

When you condemn someone for standing in front of the Taj Mahal and confuse Hinduism and Islam, that does not bode well for America’s future if people like Laura Ewing lose to ignorant fear-mongering and attempts to keep our children ignorant about the wider world we have to deal with on issues from trade to climate change.

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