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Home > World

WAWIBF... Re-writing history

24 April 2004

It has been a hideous week for the utterly discredited 'Arab World Studies Notebook', which is a shame, because it has one of the snappiest titles this side of 'Applied Linear Statistical Models'. If you are unfamiliar with the Notebook, it is a collection of readings, resources and lesson plans aimed at supplying teachers with all the information they need to teach Arab-related topics (history, social studies, and so on) to American children. There is only one thing wrong with it: it is full of lies.

An article in the Washington Times this week explained how one passage has had to be removed from the Notebook following complaints from Canada's Algonquin Nation Secretariat. The passage in question, "Early Muslim Exploration Worldwide: Evidence of Muslims in the New World Before Columbus", tells of how Muslim explorers discovered America over 500 years prior to the bumbling Italian.

Apparently this is why English explorers were to later meet "Iroquois and Algonquin chiefs with names like Abdul-Rahim and Abdallah Ibn Malik." Peter DiGangi, director of the ANS, described this claim as 'preposterous' and 'outlandish'.

Audrey Shabbas is the founder and editor of the Notebook. She said this week, "When I heard from Mr. DiGangi that a citation in the work was not borne out by either Native American written records or by oral traditions, I was grateful that the statement could so easily be removed." Which is odd, considering that not only did she found and edit the whole book, but she also co-wrote the chapter in question with one Abdallah Hakim Quick. As well as failing to explain how the information got into the book in the first place, Shabbas also failed to mention why she has been ignoring Mr DiGangi since he first contacted her last November.

Also this week, a report subtitled 'Manipulating America's History Teachers', issued by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation for educational reform, dismissed the Notebook as 'propaganda' which offers "no evidence or documentation to support key historical 'facts' that serve to advance political views or religious
beliefs".

And if you think that sounds bad, you should really read this highly illuminating email from one William J. Bennetta, president of the Textbook League, an organization which provides commentaries on educational resources. Amongst other things, Bennetta redefines the audience for Shabbas' 540-page Notebook:


"it is aimed at that sorry subpopulation of teachers who, for want of education or want of intelligence, will believe almost anything and will question nothing. It is aimed at teachers who never have absorbed the concepts of evidence and reason, who know nothing of historiography, and who can be treated as dupes."


Since its original manifestation in 1982, the Notebook has apparently been distributed to over 10,000 teachers.



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