August 1, 2016
Today in bonkers right-wing conspiracies: the Muslim Brotherhood controls Pearson
by Liam O’Brien
Pearson PLC, the UK media conglomerate that used to own Penguin and The Financial Times and continues to run Pearson Education, their mighty textbook wing, is a big company. But when they’re not eliding climate change, are they being controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood? (No.) One aspiring Nebraska school administrator thinks so, according to Joe Dejka at the Omaha World-Herald:
A candidate for the Millard school board has brought Islamism into the race.
Amber Parker is questioning whether the board should have purchased a history textbook from Pearson, a global publishing company with a fraction of its shares held by Libyan investors.
At a recent board meeting, Parker quoted from articles in the Washington Times and Financial Times as she outlined alleged connections among Pearson, a Libyan investment group and the Muslim Brotherhood. She said the Muslim Brotherhood invested in Pearson through the group.
“I just want to be clear, and if you don’t already know this, that you have accepted materials in the Millard Public Schools that have ties through the Libyan Investment Authority fund into the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a known terrorist organization and has killed Americans, has killed people,” Parker said. “And I don’t believe that’s anybody’s intention in here, but it’s important that we understand the funding and what is coming through here.”
Parker, a Republican, is trailing the other five candidates for the three open school board seats. So is this a desperate Hail Mary attempt at staying in the game? Probably, given that she follows up her accusations against Pearson by telling the school board that “Islam is a threat in schools” and “we do have indoctrination that is coming and taking place.” Which is just straight-up Alex Jones territory. The alleged Pearson-Libya conspiracy has been a far-right wingnut talking point for years, along with “Common Core is a Muslim-occupied government indoctrination program.”
Interestingly, Parker points to Nebraska’s “Americanism” statutes as a potential barrier to assigning allegedly-anti-American-inflected textbooks. These are actual civil statutes passed after World War II that mandate all elementary schoolers must be taught to be good patriots. To this end, they are taught that America is awesome and instructed to pledge their love to it, out loud. And lest you think that this is just a Cold War relic that nobody ever got around to repealing, the Americanism statutes are as of 2015 still officially supported by the state of Nebraska.
It’s ironic that an accusation to the contrary serves as a good reminder that jingoism and nationalism are already mandated in the Nebraska curriculum. Besides, you don’t need a fictional Muslim conspiracy to see that Pearson Education gets up to actual, factual fucked-up shit.
Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.