An Alabama state senator running for Congress attacked the inclusion of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in a high school literature textbook because a sidebar connects the play with the Red Scare.
State Sen. Scott Beason (R-Gardendale) toldThe Anniston Star that it’s inappropriate to “compar[e] the McCarthy investigations of the 1950s, in which he turned out to be right, with the Salem witch hunts.” The textbook — American Experience 1900 to Present — attached a sidebar in which students are asked to compare the events depicted in the play with Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s communist witch hunt in the early 1950s.
Beason’s complaint about Miller’s play is part of his general opposition to the Common Core curriculum, which he believes fails to represent “a conservative, honest, traditional, American values worldview.”
Other works that fail to represent that worldview are an essay by John Muir, frequently referred to as “the Father of the National Parks” and credited with saving, among other landmarks, the sequoias in northern California. However, the essay in question attacks “those who are wealthy and steal timber wholesale,” which Beason believes does not represent “American values.”
He also objected to an excerpt from John Hersey’s Hiroshima, because it tells the story of the atomic bomb “from the Japanese view,” which creates “a lack of balance that undermines American values.”
“It doesn’t sound like we’re being very good folks, does it?” he asked.
An excerpt from Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried also came under fire, because its narrator expresses regret for killing a North Vietnamese soldier.
“What is the message that’s being put across?” Beason asked. “Is it that we were the bad guys in Vietnam, or was it that we were the good guys in Vietnam? I think we’re the good guys. But I don’t get that out of this argument, I mean, of this story.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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