Tuesday, April 25, 2006

[ California Textbook Lawsuit moves ahead in court]

apr 25

to counteract steve farmer's misinformation and gloating about the trial.

it really ain't over until the fat lady sings, farmer old boy. and in
any case, i think the key issue has already been won by the hindus:
publishers will now think twice about including anti-hindu material.
they will self-censor. because they are worried that if there is
anti-hindu material, hindus in the school districts may object. thus
those textbooks that do not offend hindus are the ones that are most
likely to get used.

thus, even if the witzel types win the court case, theirs would be a
pyrrhic victory.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Fwd. California Textbook Lawsuit moves ahead in court
Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2006 05:26:11 -0400
From: S. Kalyanaraman
To: S. Kalyanaraman

Fwd. HP Press report, April 24, 2006


California Textbook Lawsuit Moves Ahead in Court

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA, April 21, 2006: The California Superior Court
ordered an expedited schedule be determined in the lawsuit of the Hindu
American Foundation against the California State Board of Education over
the adoption of sixth grade social studies' books for next school year.
The lawsuit was brought when Hindus were dissatisfied with the book
review process which left in place inaccuracies, distortions and an
unbalanced presentation of Hinduism vis-a-vis other religions. See HPI,
March 18, for a summary of the lawsuit issues: here

In his ruling, Superior court Judge Patrick Marlette stated twice that
he was "troubled" by the SBE review process in adopting the books. HAF
had charged that what is supposed to be a documented and transparent
system of review actually progressed through 2005 and 2006 in a
haphazard manner. Parts of the review, HAF contends, were contrary to
Cali fornia State law.

The preliminary injunction was rejected by Marlette in favor of a speedy
schedule to resolve the complex case prior to the school year. It would
be rare for a preliminary injunction to be issued against a state
government. He could have dismissed the case, if he felt it had no
merit, but did not. He has instead ordered the SBE and HAF to confer and
provide a schedule for hearing the case expeditiously, before the
textbooks in question are distributed this fall. He also recommended the
two parties explore any possible resolution of the issues between them.

One surprising testimony in the case is that of Stan Metzenberg, a
member of the Curriculum Commission whose December 2 decision on the
Hindu issues with the textbooks -- and supposed to be the final
recommendation -- was tossed out by subsequent SBE actions. The SBE
contended the Curriculum Commission failed to follow the guidelines laid
out for it in reviewing the proposed Hindu "e dits" (as the changes are
called). As a result, the SBE held a separate, closed door meeting on
January 6 to again review the edits, and arrived at a different set of
recommendations less acceptable to Hindus.

Metzenberg, a professor at Northridge University in the California
system argues in his testimony that the Commission did indeed follow the
Board's instructions. He is no stranger to textbook issues, having been
involved in improving the science curriculum in California and
testifying before the US Congress on the same issue. During the December
2 meeting, Metzenberg, a molecular biologist, took issue with the claims
that there was an "Aryan Invasion" in ancient times in India -- one of
the main points of dispute with the texts. He took it upon himself to
read the studies that had been done on the genetic makeup of individuals
of the Indian subcontinent, and reviewed them with his wife, also a
professor at Northridge and an expert in human genetics. At the meeting,
he sided with the Hindus against the recommendation of several Western
non-Hindu Indologists. In his testimony, he states, "My opinion as a
scientist, and what I recommended to my fellow commissioners on December
2, was that Aryan Invasion Theory is not easily supported by genetic
evidence, and in fact the preponderance of more recent genetic evidence
would tend to rule out a major invasion of Europeans. This is why I
believe that it would be inaccurate to portray Aryan Invasion Theory as
a fact in California textbooks. Our [the Commission's] addition of a
qualified statement, 'Aryan invasion theory has been contradicted by
some scholarly evidence,' is a sensible solution."

Metzenberg's testimony carries special weight as he was part of the
process of textbook adoption and is supporting the Hindu contention that
the Curriculum Commission had followed proper procedure in considering
the edits. The Board's contention that the Commission did not proper
procedure is a major part of their defense.

Another declaration submitted is that of Dr. Shiva Bajpai, who was hired
by the Board as an expert in Indian history to review the proposed
edits. Upon the ent ry of the non-Hindu Indologists in December, he was
sidelined in the process. At the critical January 6 meeting in which all
contested edits were reviewed again, he was told that changes would only
be made if he and Dr. Witzel of Harvard, leader of the non-Hindu
Indologist group, agreed. This effectively gave veto power over the
edits to Dr. Witzel, with the result that significant edits Hindus
sought were not made. Bajpai concludes in his testimony, "It is my view
and opinion that if the textbooks reflect only the edits recommended by
the subcommittee [mostly the results of the January 6 meeting], those
texts will portray Hinduism and Indian history inaccurately and in a
manner that puts Hinduism in a rather unfavorable light. It is my view
and opinion that the texts continue to require changes to make them
comply with the Standards imposed by law for textbooks in California."

Also of interest in the court documents is an Amici Curiae Brief
submitted by a group of political and social activist organization
including The Ambedkar Center for Justice and Peace and the Friends of
South Asia. An Amici Curiae Brief is one filed by persons or
organizations not directly part of the court case, but who wish to
provide input. Most of the Brief is spent critiquing the edits still
sought by the Hindu groups, att acking the same groups as "politically
motivated," including a flow chart connecting all of them to the RSS in
India, even though HAF and the Vedic Foundation -- two key players --
have no organization ties with the RSS, and the association of most
others in the chart is tenuous as best.

Toward the end, their Brief states, "Indeed, 126 south Asia faculty and
scholars have unequivocally stated that the edits approved by the SBE
are an 'important and positive step in providing California school
children with more accurate information on Hinduism and Indian history
than in the current textbooks.' These faculty and scholars have reached
consensus that the textbook edits approved by the SBE are 'a sizeable
improvement over the earlier texts in attempting to present responsible
scholarship that is sensitive to and respectful of religious and
cultural difference.' "

The irony here is that the praised "edits approved by the SBE" are those
75% or so of the edi ts proposed by the Hindu groups and accepted. There
was no input to the edit process by the groups submitting the brief.

The judge at the April 21 hearing requested the groups explore a
possibility of settlement. The charges brought against the Board by HAF
are fairly extensive, ranging from improper process to the specifics of
five issues: women's rights, caste and untouchability, theology,
comparison with other faiths and Aryan Invasion. Toward the end of
January, prior to the final Board decision on the edits, HAF submitted a
document with their recommendation on two dozen or so critical edits
related these five issues. This proposal was rejected by the Board,
which led to HAF filing the lawsuit. The possibility remains that the
Board and HAF could revisit this list of edits and try to work out a
solution that does not hold up the entire textbook printing process, as
a trial might. A solution based on these specific edits would not
address the larger problems w ith the texts, but it would establish the
rights of Hindus to at least an equal part in the process with Western
non-Hindu Indologist, many of whom appear to regard Hinduism with
contempt. If, however, HAF prevails at trial, then court-ordered changes
to the books to bring the treatment of Hinduism on par with the other
religious would necessarily be quite extensive, as the court would not
be limited to the relatively small corrections allowed in the Board's
review process.


Karthik said...

One thing's for sure: No publisher will touch either Farmer or Witzel. Not even with the proverbial barge-pole. If anything, Farmer and Witzel rants will be published on jihadi-islamists-naxal loving rags online.

This is it you Witzel toy Farmer. You two have hit the peak. Enjoy your 15 minutes, about 30 more seconds left.

iamfordemocracy said...

I feel the the court case should be allowed to run it course. A compromise would be unwise. History suggests that Hindus have lost more in compromises, than in arguments or wars.

someone said...

History suggests that Hindus have lost more in compromises, than in arguments or wars.

If my printer was working, I would've printed that and hung it on my wall.

virat0 said...

There is no doubt that witzel and farmer are racists and bigots. Hindus and others should support the law suit targeted against these power hungry who screw up even elite institutes.