High School History Textbooks Push Debunked Narratives About Trump

The media popularize false narratives, academics record them as historical facts, and state-run schools teach them to the next generation.

By Hudson Crozier

In a nutshell: At least five Advanced Placement (A.P.) American history textbooks covering former President Donald Trump’s presidency push debunked narratives and partisan talking points on Trump himself, his supporters, race relations, and more, according to a recent report. The books, written by various university scholars, are endorsed by the College Board and used in classrooms across the country.

On the 2016 election: Nearly all of the books baselessly claim that Russia helped Trump become president in 2016 through its supposed influence on social media, with one saying it “disrupted the American electoral process.” The books either omit or quickly gloss over the fruitless and unprecedented federal investigations into Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia. One book attributes Trump’s electoral victory to “angry white men” while another says that he “appealed successfully to nostalgia for a time when people of color and women knew their ‘place.’”

On Trump himself: Two books claim that Trump refused to condemn the deadly Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and called Neo-Nazis “fine people” in a related interview—both of which have been debunked by his full comments from that interview and other statements. One book says Trump told his supporters to “disrupt the process of Congress certifying the Electoral College vote” on January 6, 2021, though he merely told them to “peacefully” protest and called for peace when protests turned disruptive.

On Black Lives Matter: All of the books cover the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin without mentioning the evidence that led the jury to believe that his white killer acted in self-defense. They also fail to mention that Black Lives Matter activists’ narrative of the police shooting of Michael Brown was debunked by former President Barack Obama's Department of Justice.

Big picture: The writing of history in today’s divisive political climate is following a three-step process: The media popularize false narratives, academics record them as historical facts, and state-run schools teach them to the next generation. Though inaccurate and politically motivated, these textbooks will likely have tremendous influence over students and the way they understand history.

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