Last week, thousands of people rocked their hearts and minds out at SXSW in Austin, Texas. Also in my home state, 10 members of the Texas Board of Education cast their votes for textbook reform in the public school system. Their purpose was to challenge the so-called liberal elite’s interpretation of history and increase focus on the Christian principals upon which they say our country was founded.

Out with the Enlightenment. In with John Calvin and St. Thomas Aquinas.

The board also proposed a comprehensive find-and-replace of capitalism with free-enterprise system. Why? Republican board members got sensitive about terms like “capitalist pigs.”

But here’s the kicker: Oscar Romero, the former Salvadoran archbishop who was shot and killed at the altar of his church thirty years ago this Wednesday, was voted out of textbooks because no one knows about him anyway. This in Texas, where one in three people speak Spanish at home and where half a million Salvadoran immigrants still reside.

What nonsense that the same board members who want to increase Christian values within the curriculum voted to eliminate the mention of an archbishop who currently is being considered for canonization.

It’s a shame that Texan children today won’t learn about Romero (or how the U.S. was implicated in his death). But then again, when I was a student in the Texas public schools, I wasn’t taught Darwinism due to the creation v. evolution controversy which resurfaces every so often among members of the Board of Education. Eventually, though, I learned.

The whole debacle might make you wonder “What are Christian values anyway?” Or you may be ready to write off head-in-the-sand conservatives altogether. Do what you will, but don’t forget about SXSW.

There’s still innovation in music and technology and film, right at the heart of the lone star state. Innovation of any kind necessitates exploration of the world, and exploration is the stuff liberalism is made of. Conservatives, don’t fret: innovation can also promote capitalism free enterprise.

As long as Texas keeps on celebrating innovation, as long as technology becomes more and more interactive, as long as musicians and artists continue to respond to our diverse and absurd culture in new and refreshing ways, there’s still hope that even the children in the Texas public schools will learn that the perspective of the establishment – whatever establishment – can only get them so far.

 
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Jessica Belt

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