(Contributions may be sent to Frank Dorrel, PO Box 3261, Culver City, CA 90231-3261.)
The district teachers' union, United Educators of San Francisco, expressed unanimous approval of the book, and it sailed through the board's bureaucracy. But it is not without its critics.
Sean Hannity of Fox News slammed the book for, among other things, illustrations of President George W. Bush wearing a gas mask and a baby holding a machine gun. Hannity invited Sup. Gerardo Sandoval to his Jan. 12 show, introducing him as "the man who doesn't think we need a military" in a distorted reference to something Sandoval said in a previous appearance.
This time Hannity asked Sandoval, "Do you support this as propaganda in our schools?"
To which Sandoval responded, "It's not propaganda. But I do support having alternative viewpoints, especially for young people about to become of military age.... I think it provides a balanced approach to history. Some of the actions that the US has taken abroad in our 200-year history have been less than honorable."
To which an aghast Hannity countered, "It encourages high schoolers to kick the war habit. It is so unbalanced and one-sided.... You're entitled to your left-wing 'we don't need a military' views ... but leave our children in school alone."
Strangely, images of the book shown during the Fox segment bear little resemblance to those in the actual text. The news channel flashed to a picture of a thick, hardbound book with a dust jacket of the cover illustration, though as far as Dorrel and Gerber know, it has never been published in hardcover and never with a dust jacket. Gerber thinks the cover image and some internal cartoons were printed from the Web site www.addictedtowar.com and faked into a book that the news channel didn't have a copy of and had not actually read.
The SFUSD was invited by Fox News to speak on behalf of the book but declined. "We decided we didn't want to debate in that forum," district spokesperson Gentle Blythe told the Guardian.
Blythe said the district has been contacted mostly by people in support of the work and the only criticism has come from its coverage in the conservative media. She stressed that the use of the book is optional, at the discretion of each teacher, and the Office of Teaching and Learning is researching other texts that offer another perspective but has not settled on anything yet.
"If a teacher agrees with the content, they love the book," Dorrel said. "This is really the history. We've been going around in the name of liberty, and it's not that. It's a business. It's really bad when war is your business."
Dorrel said that since he's been distributing the book, which has all his contact information on the first page, he's only received a couple of nasty phone calls. "The phone rings every day. Every day there are e-mails, and mostly I just get praise because they've never seen anything like this. *