- About TFT
Friday Thing Archive
- Politics
- Media
- Culture and Society
- War On Terror
- People
- Places
- World
- Popped Clogs
- Music
- Books
- Film
- Etc
Help And Info
- Contact Details
- Advertising
- Jobs
- Privacy Policy
- XML Feed

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

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.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

Subscribe to The Friday Thing for free

Bad words ahead The Friday Thing is a weekly email comment sheet. Casting a cynical eye over the week's events, it is rarely fair and never balanced.

A selection of articles from each week's issue appear online, but to enjoy the full Thing, delivered by email every Friday - as well as access to almost five years of back issues - you'll need to subscribe. It's absolutely free.

"Razor-sharp comment and gossip." - The Sunday Times

"Hilariously cynical..To describe it as 'irreverent' is to do the newsletter an injustice." - The Observer

"Sharp, intelligent, opinionated, uncompromising and very, very funny. Just like 'Private Eye' used to be." - Alec McKelland

"Wicked" - Channel 4

"Ace" - Time Out

"'We rise once again in advocacy of The Friday Thing. We realize that some of you may be unwilling to spend [your money] on plain-text comment, but you're only depriving yourself." - The Minor Fall, The Major Lift

"Subscribing to this at the beginning of the year was undoubtedly one of the better decisions I've made. Superlative, and utterly marvellous. I look forward to Fridays now, because I can't wait for the next issue. Fucking fucking brilliant." - Meish.org

"Featuring writers from The Observer, Smack The Pony and The 11 O'Clock Show... will continue to attract new subscribers sight unseen" - NeedToKnow

"The Friday Thing is so good it's stopping me from doing a bunk of a Friday afternoon." - Annie Blinkhorn (The Erotic Review)

"So now" - The Evening Standard

"Damn it, you rule. May you never, ever back down." - Paul Mayze

"Ace" - PopJustice

"Snarky" - Online Journalism Review

"Can you please stop making me laugh out loud... I'm supposed to be working, you know!" - Tamsin Tyrwhitt

"Your coverage of stuff as it spills is right on the money." - Mike Woods

"Popbitch with A-Levels." - Tim Footman

"In an inbox full of trite work-related nonsense, TFT shines from under its subject heading like the sun out of Angus Deayton's arse." - Nikki Hunt

"A first rate email. It's become an integral part of my week, and my life would be empty and meaningless without it (well, *more* empty and meaningless anyway)." - Mark Pugh

"Genius, absolute bit of class. And you can quote me on that." - Lee Neville

"If you're hipper than hell, this is what you read." - MarketingSherpa

"The most entertaining email I've had all week. Great tone." - Matthew Prior

"A massive and engrossing wit injection." - idiotica.co.uk

"I wouldn't know satire if it bit me on the arse. But I did like the Naomi Campbell joke." - Matt Kelly (The Mirror)

"Has had an understandably high profile among people who know about these things." - Guy Clapperton (Guardian Online)

"Satirical sideswipes at the burning issues of the day." - Radio 5 Live

"Puerile and worthless... Truly fabulous... Do read the whole thing." - Stephen Pollard

The Friday Thing 2001-2008 - All Rights Reserved