Monday, November 30, 2020

Laurie Cardoza-Moore is a bad pick for the Textbook Commission.

Laurie Cardoza-Moore
by Rod Williams - Recently Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton appointed long-time activist Laurie Cardoza-Moore to the Tennessee State Textbook Commission. In my view this was a bad pick. Her appointment should be rejected.

Ms. Cardoza-Moore leads a non-profit organization called Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN), which is committed to fighting anti-Semitism.  The organization exposes incidents of anti-Semitism, supports the State of Israel, and fights efforts to force companies and universities to divest their portfolio of investments is Israel. If all I knew about Ms Cordoza-Moore was her leadership with this organization, I would say she is performing a needed service. The Southern Poverty Law Center has called PJTN a hate group, but I don't see it.  The SPLC often classifies groups that are pro-life and support traditional morality or are simply conservative  as "hate groups."  They carry very little weight with me.

My objection to Ms Cordoza-Moore's appointment to the text book commission is based on two things.  The first is her opposition to the building of a mosque in Murfreesboro. In Murfreesboro a few years ago a group of Americans of the  Muslim faith wanted to build a mosque. The mosque met the zoning and land use requirements of the property, yet there was a public demand that the building of the mosque be stopped. There is a fear that all Muslims are actual or potential terrorist and that this mosque would  be a terrorist training school.   Now, I know that there have been incidents of young immigrants radicalized at mosque in America.  I hope the FBI has undercover agents infiltrating  every mosque in America and monitoring the sermons of the imams.  

Believing law enforcements should be aware of the danger however and proactive in protecting America from terrorist attacks does not lead me to support policies that say the first amendment does not apply to Muslims in America.  I know some on the right have taken the position that Islam is not a religion. I can not fathom that one adheres to that position. Behind Christianity, Islam is the second most popular religion in the world with 1.5 billion followers.  Islam is not monolithic. There are divisions within Islam and it is ridiculous to think of all Muslims as potential terrorist.  It is other Muslims who have most often been the target of Islamic radicals.  You may not like the Muslim faith but to say it is not a religion is non-sense. I don’t want to deny basic rights to other American citizens because they practice a certain religious faith or because of their appearance or ancestry. 

A democracy means more than simply majority rule. If we don’t hold the right to freedom of religion sacred, if we do not respect our constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom to assemble, if we can change the rules and deny someone the right to develop their property just because we don’t like what they are going to build, are we any better than the socialist of the left? Our rights are not to apply just to the majority. The majority do not need a Bill of Rights. If today we can deny a Muslim congregation the right to build a mosque, tomorrow we can deny the Mormons or Church of Scientology the right to build a house of worship. Is freedom of religion only for members of the Church of Christ and Baptist? I viewed her fight against the Murfreesboro mosque a fight against the  First Amendment. 

The second reason I question Ms Cordoza-Moore's fitness to serve on a text book commission is she lead a fight opposing a text book used in an Advanced Placement human geography book in the Williamson County Schools. She rallied citizens to turn out to protest anti-Semitism in Williamson County Schools and got them to turn out at a school board meeting to protest.  Specifically what was being protested was a textbook that, according to Ms Cardoza-Moore, "confuses 'terrorist attacks' with 'political violence.'" The specific example she sites is this: 
If a Palestinian suicide bomber kills several dozen Israeli teenagers in a Jerusalem restaurant, is that an act of terrorism or wartime retaliation against Israeli government policies and army actions? 
I am myself not convinced that that was an example of antisemitism and I really doubt the Williamson County School Board was guilty of promoting antisemitism. If the book is age-appropriate for the students, the quoted excerpt very well may be an appropriate means of getting students to think about current events and take an interest in the subject matter. I would bet that most students would answer the question by saying that killing teenagers in a restaurant is terrorism. 

This was a college level text book used in an advanced placement class. This is a book used to teach smart college-bound kids. Soon they would all be in college and be challenged to question and think about many complex issues.

I am pleased that we have a text book commission that includes citizen representation. Education is to important to be left up to just educators and anything that can reverse the left-wing indoctrination centers that our schools have become is welcome.  However, Ms Cordoza-Moore is the wrong person to place on that commission.  The Tennessee General Assembly must still confirm her appointment.  She should be rejected. 

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