If the Texas Board of Education has their way, Washington and Franklin may have some ancient, mythological company

It’s official. The Texas Board of Education has officially lost any and all credibility it had with education and facts. Apparently, the Texas mosesBoard of Education wants to declare Moses as among America’s “founding fathers” in revised history books. I am not making this up.

Texas has become America’s joke-box on many progressive issues, but this one is over the top. Not only are there so many layers to what’s wrong with calling Moses a “founding father”, but it could take more than one article to point them out. I will start with two issues, one obvious, and the other not so much.

One, obviously Moses could never be declared a founding father of America based on the huge discrepancy between the assumed timelines of Moses’ life and the life of the Founding Fathers. Second, a majority of scholars in ancient history agree that Moses was more than likely not a historical figure.

In essence, many scholars in archaeology and ancient history agree there is very little evidence that Moses was a real person. The mainstream opinion on this is that Moses was a mythological “founding father” (for the ancient Hebrews) but was not a historical character and did not lead an event known as “The Exodus” as biblical literalists claim.

There is almost no textual evidence outside the book of Exodus and no archaeological proof to verify Moses’ existence or that of his famed Exodus. The Egyptians have no record of him, there is no evidence left behind in Sinai of a 40 year Exodus march of an entire nation. People tend to leave their things behind in events like that, but not in the case of Moses or the Exodus.

Scholars believe that Moses is a Hebrew mythological figure who was invented to serve a national narrative about where the Hebrew nation came from. Moses is a figure on par with figures like Hercules, Theseus, Gilgamesh, and countless other heroes and figures in ancient mythology. Moses was a tool to explain something when no solid explanation was available.

Even if Moses did exist thousands of years ago, you can’t literally suggest Moses was a founding father of the United States. Of course, that never stops Texas.

The right-wing dominated SBOE (State Board of Education) has stated its agenda is to teach students the values of “American Exceptionalism.” What Moses has to do with that goes beyond logic. The SBOE claims that it also wants to teach the “biblical origins” of the Constitution. Part of this is to label Moses “the first true American.”

Essentially, conservatives in Texas seek to indoctrinate our youth into a culture of militarist-religious frenzy that has never been shared by our founding principles. Texas wants to teach its students that a man that never existed was “the first true American.”

Imagine if I said that Hercules was the founder of the NFL. Imagine me just saying Hercules was a literal figure, and everything his myths detailed are true. Now imagine me saying that not only is all that true, but Hercules is the “first true football player” and we have to trace sports back to its “Herculean roots.”

Obviously, I would be the subject of ill-concealed laughter if I made these claims. Yet, Texas is now basically doing the equivalent of the example I gave. It is taking a widely regarded (in professional circles) mythological figure and basing him in literal history. Not only that, but this figure is being used for another part of history.

There’s a new movie coming out soon, about Moses staring Batman, I mean Christian Bale. This move, Exodus: Gods and Kings, looks interesting. It seems to be a movie being molded into a new film genre on biblical tales. These films, much like the earlier Noah, are retelling these biblical stories as mythological parables rather than literal history. Even Bale commented that Moses (if he existed) sounded like he would have been a pretty schizophrenic man.

That, of course is a conversation in itself. I will say this, if you’ve actually read the book of Exodus and story of Moses, you might not be entirely proud to call him a founding father. Some of the laws he decreed and verses he inspired are pretty brutal, and I would not recommend 21st century people to partake in them.

If a mythological figures can be infused anywhere for any purpose, than what else are the possibilities. Maybe Hercules lead the invasion of Normandy, or Perseus anchored Meet the Press? The possibilities are endless.

I can’t describe how insane these ideas are, but Texas SBOE is going forward with placing these ideas in state sponsored school books. Not only is science being distorted in Texas, now it seems that history is being distorted as well.

1 COMMENT

  1. “For it is the fate of every myth to creep by degrees into the narrow limits of some alleged historical reality, and to be treated by some later generation as a unique fact with historical claims…this is the way in which religions are wont to die out: under the stern, intelligent eyes of an orthodox dogmatism, the mythical premises of a religion are systematized as a sum total of historical events; one begins apprehensively to defend the credibility of the myths, while at the same time one opposes any continuation of their vitality and growth; the feeling for myth perishes, and its place is taken by the claim of religion to historical foundations.”
    -Friedrich Nietzsche contra German mythological enthusiast composer and early Nazi ideologue, Richard Wagner, in “The Birth of Tragedy”

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