Besides letting me stay in contact with people, Facebook also serves the rather interesting purpose of allowing me to see, far too often, the latest in what far too many people think is true and important, but in reality is just evidence of incredible ignorance and stupidity combined with shocking gullibility. Ignorance is correctable, but stupidity, there really isn’t anything one can do about that. If I think about it too much, it can make me feel depressed, especially when I consider that some of this is being passed along by people that I know, who I thought were smarter than this. What's worse, is that they keep making the same mistakes over and over again, and posting the same idiocy over and over again. Why can't they learn? Why don't they know how to use Google or Snopes?
The latest ignorance is from someone posting a photo of part of a history book which expects the students to explain and summarize the beliefs of Islam. For some reason, the poster of the photo—which includes a rant on the page from a parent threatening legal action—believes that the questions and text are evidence of an attempt by the government to impose Islamic beliefs on highschoolers. My reaction is “huh?”
This is a history textbook. Islam is rather important in any study of history, given the impact it has had on the world. I was a history major in college—which happened to be a Christian college—and we had to answer the same sorts of questions. After all, part of what it means to get an education is to learn about things, and not just stuff you agree with. When I studied twentieth century Russian history, I had to learn all about Communism; I read the Communist Manifesto—and again, this was in a Christian college. Neither the professor nor I nor anyone else in the class were inclined to become Marxists, nor did I ever join the Communist party or even feel an urge in that direction. But it was rather important to study all that if I wanted to understand Russian history. If you want to understand the history of the Middle East understanding Islam is important. Doubtless the textbook also talks about Judaism and Christianity, since they were also rather important to the history of the world and that region. I suspect there will be no photos posted of those pages, however.
I really don’t understand why in the world anyone would be upset with learning about Islam or imagine that it shouldn’t be taught as part of a history course. However, having spent years teaching in both college settings as well as in the local church, ignorance is not always an easy thing to fix, especially when it is linked with hard-headed stupidity.