Alabama State Sen. Scott Beason (R) is on a war against his state’s Common Core school curriculum, which he sees as too liberal for Alabama schools. He’s currently fighting to make school superintendent an elected position, and in the midst of his fight, he's revealed that he's not exactly a fan of modern American literature.
Speaking to the Anniston Star over the weekend, Beason broke out a copy of a Common Core-approved high school literature textbook covered in Post-its, which were used to mark material that he and others object to. Among the supposedly offensive reading material is Arthur Miller’s critically acclaimed play “The Crucible,” which allegorically condemns Joseph McCarthy’s anti-communist trials through the prism of the Salem Witch Trials.
Beason says he doesn’t just disapprove of the play -- he also thinks schools should venerate McCarthy as a hero.
"So we're comparing the McCarthy investigations of the 1950s, in which he turned out to be right, with the Salem witch hunts," Beason told the Anniston Star. "Now that all the records are out, it's clear that McCarthy didn't go far enough.”
For the most part, Beason seems to object to any piece of literature that puts America or its military in anything less than a heroic light. When asked about the Tim O'Brien's "The Man I Killed," a short story from "The Things They Carried” in which the narrator describes the guilt and regret that comes with killing a Vietcong soldier, Beason says students shouldn’t have to read the piece because it does not portray the United States as “the good guys” in the Vietnam War.
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"What is the message that's being put across?" Beason said. "Is it that we were the bad guys in Vietnam, or was it that we were the good guys in Vietnam? I think we're the good guys. But I don't get that out of this argument, I mean, of this story."
O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” doesn’t focus on which political entity was right or wrong during the Vietnam War, but on the psychological damage war does to young minds. Yet Beason doesn't seem to get the distinction. Beason also has similar problems with John Hersey’s “Hiroshima,” which tells the stories of four survivors of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Beason says telling stories from the Japanese point of view “undermines American values.”
"It doesn't sound like we're being very good folks, does it?" Beason said.
Beason’s statements have earned him some negative attention since the Anniston Star piece was published over the weekend, but this is far from the first time the Alabama senator has hit national attention. Back in 2011, Beason, well aware that he was being recorded, described black people as “aborigines.” A year later, he criticized immigrants by saying, "When their children grow up and get the chance to vote, they vote for Democrats."