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The Lie: Evolution

Textbook War


Compiled by Karl C. Priest







Items are not arranged by priority.
(Typos are corrected when found without changing “update” reference.)



There is ample material to set the record straight.
Gold nuggets of truth will glitter among piles of gray gravel propaganda.

Many accusations are repeated multiple times in separate articles and reports. No attempt has been made here to cite every inaccuracy although some duplication (not identical) have been arbitrarily included.


For detailed documentation of how
the propaganda has been perpetuated

In order to fully understand the protesters as the Courageous Corps of ’74 and
the good citizens and patriots they really were


The Kanawha County Textbook War was arguably one of the top three non-catastrophe events in West Virginia history. It also ranks in the top echelon of conservative history in America. The Kanawha County Textbook War has generated multiple articles, research papers, chapters in books and entire books. One scholarly book rates the Kanawha County Textbook War as one of four “landmark school battles.”

The citations on this page are not intended to insinuate that the authors were in agreement with the protesters. To the contrary, the purpose is to demonstrate that even the most biased writer or researcher discloses facts that contradict the widely held misconceptions of the protesters. The folks who stood up for their children and their country in 1974 were good people—the kind of folks most Americans would want to have as neighbors. It is time that the truth is told!

It is easy to keep on the dark-glasses of self-righteousness and accept the opinions of people who detest the protesters. It is difficult to let some light seep in because it requires admitting having been deceived. To truly understand the protest and the people who participated requires thinking “out of the box” and putting petty prejudices in a pile of rotten rubbish.

The Great Textbook War was not as simple as some would have it remembered.

Most of the maligners of the Textbook Protesters pathetically passed around each other’s poor and/or opinionated research or reporting.

Below, and on linked pages, the reader will find commentary (in “their” own words and by Karl Priest that provides “The Rest of the Story.” The Textbook Proesters are not afraid to let an open-minded reader make an informed decision about the event and those who participated in it.

A detailed example of how propagandists disguised as professors have passed deception down the line since 1974 is in “A Tale of Three Tiny Tomes”.

The textbook dispute in Kanawha County, West Virginia is an intellectual puzzle that challenges the sociological imagination. Page, Ann L. & Clelland, Donald A. “The Kanawha County Textbook Controversy: A Study of the Politics of Life Style Concern.” Social Forces Sept. 1978: 267.

The (newspaper and television) coverage did little to help one understand the root causes of the problem leading to this latest struggle in the mountains, and the issue seemed to bog down under the headings of “censorship” and “fundamentalist religion,” but the issue is not as simple as that.” (Welch, Jack. “Cultural Revolution in Appalachia.” The Educational Forum Nov. 1976: 21.) Dr. Welch was an associate professor in the Department of English at West Virginia University.

The Kanawha County textbook controversy in 1974 raises some of the most complex questions of any event in recent educational history. Kincheloe, Joe L. Understanding the New Right and Its Impact on Education. Bloomington, IN: Phi Delta Kappa Educational Foundation, 1983: 7.

Paul Cowan was a self-described “political radical” and part of the “New York left” (13) wrote for the ultra-liberal Village Voice when he came to Kanawha County in 1974. His experience resulted in a chapter he titled “A Fight over America’s Future.”

After getting to know the protesters Cowan found that his “sympathies were unexpectedly divided. I (Cowan) found that, often, people I might once have written off as reactionaries were fighting to preserve their cultural and their psychological turf. It became clear to me that those social conflicts could not be understood purely in ideological terms.” (76). “I have rarely covered a story that left me as emotionally conflicted as this one did. (90)

Cowan, Paul. The Tribes of America. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1977.

In an undated (1975) letter to Alice Moore Mr. Cowan wrote: The other day I read it (his article) to an American Studies class at Old Westbury University - - a state university whose students, I'd thought, were reflexive liberals. most of them identified with your side of the fight. When I asked their teacher why, he said that they, too, feel as if their culture has been submerged by the sleek, melting pot liberalism that dominates the place.

A 1974 protester held a sign that read, “Destroy Our Children and You Destroy America.” (American School Board Journal Nov. 1974: 43) Amazingly, American Christian and conservative leaders cannot comprehend that pertinent point! They ignore the warning cry of the 1974 textbook protesters. Worse, they treat the memory of those protesters as if it is shameful. The documented facts on this and the sub-pages should make those Christian and conservative leaders ashamed of themselves.

I’m an old fashioned liberal…On reading accounts of the school violence in West Virginia, all my reflexes began twitching to the issues of ‘censorship’ and ‘bookburning’ and ‘academic freedom…And it is easy to dismiss parents stomping about in their tee-shirts and workboots as ignorant, rural hardhats. But like many other liberals on many other issues these days, I am re-examining previous certainties and thus had some second thoughts about those textbooks, those angry parents, that school system, and what it all means…The beliefs of rural people are guaranteed to win disdainful shrugs at cocktail parties from Charleston to New York, and that, apparently, is all they were good for in the power structure of the Kanawha County schools. In short, there was an astonishing insensitivity to local (illegible) values by the public school system…Thomas Jefferson counseled leaders in a democratic society to trust in the informed wisdom of the people…Despite this, our public leaders too often exhibit the attitude that ‘the people are children, and we know what is best for them.’ This is not leadership but the arrogance of power and the entire system has suffered its devastating results…But among the issues involved in that one corner of Appalachia are the role and function of democratic institutions, the arrogance and insularity of power, and the nature and purpose of public education. Marburger, Carl. “The West Virginia Textbooks.” New York Times. October 24, 1974: 41. Marburger was the former New Jersey Commissioner of Education and when he wrote the editorial he was the senior associate of the National Citizens in Education.

In Kanawha County the textbook controversy was a facilitator for confrontation of the larger issues of who controls public institutions and the responsiveness of public organizations to the needs and wishes of the communities they serve. Candor, Catherine. “A History of the Kanawha County Textbook Controversy, April 1974-April 1975.” Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1976: 215.

It is a conflict between diametrically opposed beliefs about the nature of truth and human behavior. Hillocks, George, Jr. “Books and Bombs: Ideological Conflict and the Schools—A case Study of the Kanawha County Book Protest.” School ReviewVol. 86, No. 4 (Aug., 1978) : 639

Observers, and occasionally the press, have summoned straw figures to explain the conflict…But such one-dimensional explanations are deceiving. (13) It is hard to know where to begin sorting out the multiplicity of issues and ideologies that have attached themselves to the textbook dispute. (14) Egerton, John. “The Battle of the Books.” The Progressive June 1975.

Among other things such disputes usually encompass a tangle of conflicting rights that involve children, teachers, authors, librarians, and school administrators. In almost all cases, the welfare of children is at the heart of the dispute. Benzin, Philip. “War over Words—Latest Moves to Ban Certain School Books Worry U.S. Educators.” The Wall Street Journal September 20, 1974: 18.

But within that brief period the controversy captured national attention and became, for many educators and librarians, a symbol of censorial interference with intellectual and academic freedom. This statement is, of course, an oversimplification of a complex situation. but superficially the events of the controversy would seem to conform to the familiar pattern of activities which represent censorship to the librarian. Burger, Robert H. “The Kanawha County Textbook Controversy: A Study of Communications and Power.” Library Quarterly 48.2 (1978): 143. Note the key words: “SUPERFICIALLYand “SEEM.”

After conducting an extensive review of literature I discovered that the early researches relied heavily on news reports. Those reports can easily be argued as biased to various degrees, but it is indisputable that those reports (98% would be a reasonable estimate) were about the aberrations of the protest. Then, as the years passed, the researchers read and build upon each other’s papers. There were a few scholars who actually READ THE PEOPLE who were protesters. The researchers that got to know the protesters discovered that the protesters were overwhelmingly good people. As a result, those researchers recorded objective compliments. Unfortunately, those statements are lost in the overwhelming amount of criticism. Cowan and Kincheloe are two of the few examples of researchers, journalists, or writers who took the time to get to know the people who were protesters. None of them aligned themselves with the protesters’ worldview (Trey Kay still has a chance--2013) and none of them were completely complimentary, but their eyes were opened.

Sadly, several scholars fed off the work of each other and perpetuated a path of propaganda against the protesters. An exception to that rule is a scholarly book reporting a study about “cultural conflicts “that occurred during a four year period during the 1990s which referenced the Kanawha County Textbook War. The premise of Dr. Steven Tepper’s book is that “social change” is the main of protests about art and culture. (14) He admits that it is difficult to define “social change.” (14) He declares that his book’s focus is on “local social change—in particular, changes that disrupt people’s conception of community life...” (16)

Dr. Tepper did a commendable job of trying to be objective (he even cited an article from my website), but some slant was detected. For example, he could have added the word “alleged” to a sentence in order to make it read as follows. “Groups such as People for the American Way (PFAW) and the American Library Association regularly publish reports calling attention to the alleged ‘alarming’ and growing attacks on artistic and intellectual freedom.’” (7)

As a Jew, Dr. Tepper admitted he was offended by how the movie The Passion of the Christ portrayed Jews. (85) The people (Romans and Jews) that killed Jesus Christ and the brutal method they used are a matter of historical record. It is also clear that Jesus was a Jew. Nevertheless, Dr. Tepper called the theater demanding the movie not be shown.

Regarding the Textbook War, Dr. Tepper wrote: Protests over books in the schools and libraries, which represent many conflict events in my study, have also been linked to fear of change. The most vivid example, occurring two decades before my study, is the case of the textbook controversy that erupted in Kanawha County, West Virginia, in the 1970s...Objections centered on the supposed “moral relativism” of the books which the protesters felt undermined decency, respect for authority, religion, and patriotism...While the intensity of this particular conflict is unmatched by any of the more recent conflicts documented in my study, its origins and motivations are rooted in the types of social changes discussed above and throughout this (66) book. Ann Page and Donald McClelland (1978), who wrote about the event, contend that the protesters were worried that a “way of life” was under attack by the encroaching values and beliefs of a new professional class...The editor of the Charleston Daily Mail wrote that the controversy refected a “vague sense that everything was coming apart at the seams.” (Crawford 1974 [2010], 3). Like the case of the anti-vice campaigns in the nineteenth century, the parents in Kanawha County felt they were losing their children to the influence of educators who held views that were not reflective of their own values, customs, and beliefs. Such fears, bubbling under the surface in many American communities, found particularly violent expression in Kanawha in the 1970s amid increasingly visible economic, demographic, and cultural change. (67) Puritans in colonial America pursued and punished witches as a response to new immigrants (Quakers) and new values (anti-establishment sentiment) (Erikson 1966). More recently, the Kanawha textbook controversy in West Virginia, discussed in Chapter 2, resulted from this tension between modernization and tradition, as parents and citizens sought to defend their “way of life” against the influences of new families, new businesses, professional educators, and an apparent rise of secularism. (87)

I doubt if “modernization” referred to “degradation” of the culture. It was unnecessary to insert “apparent” where he did (assuming he meant “perhaps not valid” rather than “clearly factual”).

Dr. Tepper pointed out something that I have documented many times.

When groups fight over the moral high ground in an effort to assert what is good, right, and just for their communities, it becomes tactically important to undermine the legitimacy of opponents. This is done by questioning motives, characterizing the other side as extremists, and connecting groups to discredited groups or ideas. (181) He went on to list some terms: skinheads, communism, obscenity, indecency, hypocrisy, censorship, criminal, slanderer, pervert, neo-Nazi, mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bible thumpers, nippy arts bureaucrat; small-minded, bigotry, intolerance, religious crusaders, Nazi, abomination, religious fanatics, know-nothings. (181-182)

It is easy to guess which words were hurled at which side. In this list of 22, subtracting criminal and slanderer as fitting either group (but likely to have been hurled at protesters) only six would have been used by the protesting groups. “Nippy arts bureaucrat” is pretty witty. “Obscenity” and “indecency” are not personal slurs and are common legal terms. A homosexual act is an “abomination” according to the Word of God (Leviticus 18:22 KJB). “Communism” was the worse slur, but B. Obama’s “neighbor,” Bill Ayers, applied the term to himself ( so why should that side be offended?

I totally agree with Dr. Tepper’s point-of-view about cultural protests.

As we debate the permissible bounds of expression, we also activate and nurture democracy. Protest over art serves as a critical way for citizens to voice concern and to confront change. Freedom of expression is indeed at stake in controversies over art, but perhaps the freedom that matters most is not the freedom of artists but rather that of citizens who protest and defend the artworks as a way to shape together the cultural life of their communities. (264) (“Books” could replace “Art” in this context.) When cultural leaders hide behind the veil of professional expertise, the First Amendment, and modernist ideas about “art for art’s sake,” they effectively marginalize their critics and isolate themselves. In so doing they place the interests of art above the interests of the public. (285)

Tepper, Steven J. Not Here, Not Now, Not That! Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2011.

See the addendum to 'Godless Books': The 1974 Kanawha County Textbook Controversy for facts from a foreigner.

A minuscule amount of protesters did some of the things of which the protesters are accused. Except for the men, who made no claim of being Christians, who bombed the schools, the worse a few of the protesters were guilty of was using harsh words. News accounts make that clear. But, those are anecdotal and all video shows otherwise. Opponents of the protesters were guilty of harsh words, and (some would consider it worse) they used snide and arrogant words about and to the protesters. It is ironic that those who supported the books were so easily offended by words, after vehemently arguing that words in the books did not matter. Some people claimed they had to be escorted into schools by police, but that claim can be interpreted as less dramatic then biased bigots would like. At least no protester shot at another human—pro-bookers did that twice, almost killing an innocent bystander.

Even her opponents in the 1970s conceded that (Alice) Moore had earned their respect. Laats, Adam. The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015: 190

(C)onservative reformers often assumed that the levers of educational power had been seized by a usurping clique of self-described experts. Such experts, many conservatives in Kanawha County believed, could be counted on to produce skewed and subversive materials. Laats, Adam. The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015: 203

Attributing outsized influence to such outsiders (non-local groups supposedly prolonging the protest) more often served as a way to discredit or pigeonhole conservative school reformers than as a genuine attempt to understand the contours of the controversy. Laats, Adam. The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015: 217

Also see the comprehensive review of The Other School Reformers-Conservative Activism in American Education.

This page is based upon points made in a Powerpoint presentation which was prepared to portray the truth about the 1974 textbook protesters to parry the pompous people who have poured propaganda into the public’s perception. Some of the material was overlooked or unavailable when the protesters’ book was being researched. More detailed material can be obtained from Protester Voices: The 1974 Textbook Tea Party. That is a book liberals do not want anyone to read!

The TRUTH is that the Kanawha Coutny Textbook Protesters were true patriots and heroes. They consisted of thousands of humble people who have suffered humiliation because they stood up for children and America in 1974. The Kanawha County Textbook Protesters deserve to be honored.

For documented facts that the Courageous Corps of ’74 were NOT NARROW-MINDED, NOT IGNORANT, NOT RELIGIOUS FANATICS, NOT CENSORSNOT VIOLENT, and NOT RACIST--click on each slur. Also, please see PERTINENT POINTS which do not fit the slur categories. Note: Some items may apply to more than one category. In that case the item is placed arbitrarily into whatever I feel is the best fit.

A video is worth a million words. See Textbook War videos and see if you believe your lying eyes and ears.



PART XI: Passing the Torch

For a secular source that explains the problem see the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America and her videos on YouTube.