Hate as a Virtue, Part 2: David Caton and the Florida Family Association

Some of you who live in Florida probably have heard of David Caton, but he was new to me. I got wind of him because he is crusading against a Prentice Hall textbook used in a Florida public high school. I worked for Prentice Hall several years ago, and as most of you know I was a worker bee in the textbook industry for a long time, so I nosed around.

The textbook, used in an Advanced Placement class in Brevard County, has a chapter on “Muslim civilization” but nothing about Christianity or Islam. Townhall was on the case

State Rep. Ritch Workman told Fox News the Prentice World History textbook rewrites Islamic history and presents a biased version of the Muslim faith.

“The book has a 36-page chapter on Islam but no chapters on Christianity or Judaism,” Workman said. “It’s remarkably one-sided.”

Caton sent an email alert to his followers:

Prentice Hall’s World History text book with its biased presentation of Islam continues to be used in numerous school districts. The same company that published a high school text book which embellishes Islamists and belittles Judaism and Christianity also has ownership in The Economist, a leading advertiser on Al Jazeera America.

To which a spokesperson for Prentice Hall (currently owned by the British multinational company Pearson) replied:

In Florida, as in other states, Pearson creates custom course materials that align to the state’s specific curriculum standards. Florida’s standards split the world history curriculum into two years of study, in grades 6 and 10. The state’s standards require the sixth grade curriculum start with early civilizations and continue through to the fall of Rome (476 A.D.). In the 10th grade, the state’s high school curriculum begins with the Byzantines (330 A.D.), proceeds to the Early Middle Ages in Europe (500 A.D.) and continues to the present day.

The Florida edition of the Pearson high school World History text aligns to the state’s standards, which require that the high school course include content on the origins of Islam, while the middle school text details the earlier origins of Judaism and Christianity. The Florida Department of Education approved the Pearson World History programs for adoption and validated that the content in our programs meets the requirements and educational goals of the state.

Caton, of course, called this explanation “absurd,” and revealed that one of Pearson’s companies is a “top advertiser” on Al-Jazeera America. Islamist conspiracy!

Seriously, I know the textbook industry. Its only concern is making money selling textbooks. If the state of Florida required them to mention Mickey Mouse on every other page, they would do it.

This also exemplifies why textbook publishers are very, very leery of mentioning religion at all, because no matter how carefully one words the text, it will piss off somebody. And that somebody might be on a textbook approval committee.

But I decided to check out this Caton guy. It turns out that about 30 years ago he published a book about how he had overcome an addiction to pornography and several chemical substances. Since then he got religion and founded the Florida Family Association (“Defending American Values”!), which mostly crusades against tolerance of homosexuals and Muslims. Not surprisingly, the AFF is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Among the FFA’s past projects was trashing the television reality series All-American Muslim, which ran on the TLC cable network for one season, in 2011-2012. The program followed the daily lives of five Lebanese-American Shiia families in Dearborn, Michigan. Caton managed to pressure two advertisers, Lowe’s Home Improvement and Kayak.com, to drop their sponsorship. Samuel Freedman wrote in the New York Times,

It would be upsetting enough if a well-financed, well-organized mass movement had misrepresented a television show, insulted an entire religious community and intimidated a national corporation. What makes the attack on “All-American Muslim” more disturbing — and revealing — is that it was prosecuted by just one person, a person unaffiliated with any established organization on the Christian right, a person who effectively tapped into a groundswell of anti-Muslim bigotry.

“We live in the age of the Internet and a well-organized extreme right,” said Mark Potok, who investigates hate groups for the Southern Poverty Law Center and has followed Mr. Caton’s activities. “This little man was able to have his voice amplified in huge ways.”

Caton’s Crusade was ridiculed on the Daily Show. (Go to the web page if the clip isn’t working.)

Now David Catton is going after Al-Jazeera America, calling it “Jihad TV.” The FFA claims it has persuaded 138 advertisers to drop advertising on Al-Jazeera.

The relentless Caton also has accused the Tampa Bay police of covering up an “honor killing” The Florida Family Association Islamophobia is being documented by the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). See also the Stop David Caton & Florida Family Association Extremism facebook page, sponsored by American Family Voices.

20 thoughts on “Hate as a Virtue, Part 2: David Caton and the Florida Family Association

  1. One defective wingnut could, in theory, bring down an airplane.

    So, we shouldn’t be surprised that one mentally-defective wingnut can bring down TV shows, and news networks.

    Hater’s gonna hate!
    They just need a target.
    Whichever one is convenient, and can’t fight back, of course.

    Between this nut, and that Yosemite Sam-mustached Terry Jones, and his backwater strip-mall “church,” you begin to wonder if there’s something in Florida’s water – besides alligator poop, and over-medicated old people’s pee, I mean.
    Hey – maybe THAT’S it!!!

  2. Gulag – I drink bottled water for those very reasons, but I fear there’s something in the air here as well.

  3. The Florida Family Association is a 503C tax-exempt ‘educational’ group who can shelter the identity of their donor(s). Caton says so explicitly in his web site. He’s a grifter who has found hate to be a salable commodity, particularly since the haters who contribute can be shielded – no on will ever expose who they are.

  4. Notice how those factual issues get no traction in RWNJ world. Textbooks certainly are tightlly conforming to state standards, but he RWNJ plan to get around those wildly liberal notions by reducing us all to homeschooling by the lowest common denominator.

  5. the high school course include content on the origins of Islam, while the middle school text details the earlier origins of Judaism and Christianity.

    I don’t see why the wingnuts are so bothered, since many of their spawn will have dropped out of high school before cracking open the evil Mooslim book turns them instantly into terrist bombers, or whateverthehell they’re afraid of.

  6. It seems like most organizations with the words ” family”, “heritage”,'”patriot”, and”citizens” are extreme right wing groups.

  7. Right wing evangelical Christianity is what I call “fast-food religion” – because it’s like a fast-food hamburger. It’s easy, cheap, appealing – and very bad for your spiritual health.

    This is why I insist that organized religion in general is a net negative force in society and certainly doesn’t deserve the automatic deference it is used to and demands.

  8. I don’t totally agree with Scott’s statement about organized religion, however, there are a number of christian denominations that preach “acts” are not necessary. I have known several misguided people who took up carrying a bible as a totem and fetish to grow their monetary wealth. Naturally, they were reptilian in their true world view.
    Some religious groups have done heroic works following natural disasters. Granted, organized religion gave us the inquisition and many other monstrosities.

  9. OY!

    There’s talk of replacing Disco Dancin’ Davey, with Mika and Joe!
    They’re not half as entertaining, or half as smart, as the old “The Bickerson’s” comic!

    You want to improve MtP – I mean, really improve it?
    How about Rachel, or Chris Hayes?

    Yeah, like THAT’S gonna happen!!!

  10. A few disorganized observations-

    Written records indicate ‘organized’ religion began with the Sumerians (predating Mesopotamia) at least 6,000 years ago in what we now now call Iraq.

    -there exists some ambiguity: Jericho (Israel) and Catal Hayuk (Turkey) both predate Sumerian civilization by thousands of years.

    The God-Kings of Sumer were the first civilized rulers to employ religion as a social control, and they were very good at it

    The first known creation story is ‘Enuma Elish,’ which posits Apsu (freshwater) and Tiamat (seawater) joined/fucked under Anu (sky) and Enki to make the world. As the Titans created the Greek deities?

    Isn’t Zeus merely a refined version of Marduk?

    • Monty — I don’t think “religion,” whether organized or disorganized, is entirely to blame for this nonsense. What happens time and time again is that religions soak up the biases and attitudes of the cultures in which they are planted, and those biases often have nothing to do with the original teachings of the religion. But once the clergy in authority adopt the biases you’ve got a nice, closed feedback loop in which the culture generates bias and the religious authorities “sanctify” the biases.

      And if a religion becomes very dominant in a population it can also become part of national, ethnic, or political identity, which usually does not turn out well. Sometimes defending that identity overwhelms any spiritual sense of what the religion is about. Most of the right wingers in media perpetually defending Christianity strike me as being about as spiritual as a Las Vegas casino. What they’re really defending is their tribe, not the Christian religion.

      Right now in Burma a subset of Buddhists have taken to attacking Muslims, and their argument is that it’s OK because they are “defending Buddhism.” But the Buddha was even more uncompromising about not hating and not committing violence than Jesus was, so they are violating the religion they think they are defending. It’s a variation of destroying a village to save it.

      It’s often said that if we could get rid of religion people would become more rational and logical, but I don’t think that’s true. What would really happen is that people would just find another container for their craziness, and we see that happening all the time. Truthers? Birthers? Teabggers? Ayn Randbots? All you need is some kind of simple-minded ideology that explains everything and fellow believers to form a tribal bond with, and there you are. Still crazy.

  11. maha,
    I agree.
    But it also goes out beyond religion, into whether one’s mindset is Liberal, or Conservative, and how we look at things.

    In objective reality, most problems usually have more than one cause, and rarely are there simple solutions.

    Though Conservatives will contest this, because people who are Conservative almost always want a simple story, with noble good guys, evil bad guys, and a simple solution – get rid of the bad guys.

    Liberals usually tend to understand what I said earlier, that behind most problems, there are often more than one simple cause – and hence, probably more than just one simple solution.
    And that in that problem, there are people responsible who didn’t necessarily have bad intentions – aka: bad guys (though sometimes there are) – but somehow, still managed to fuck things up, nine ways to Sunday.

    We look at the world in two completely different ways.

    Most of today’s Conservatives are Manichean Absolutists:
    Good v. Evil; Black v. White; etc… NO SHADES OF GRAY!!!

    Most of today’s Liberals see varying shades of gray, and rarely are causes and solutions Manichean, or absolute.

    So one group won’t, or can’t, see shades of gray – and the other refuses to believe that things are as simple as black and white.

    And the result is that we’re always screaming at one another, whether it’s on the internet, or the family get-together.

    Also, I don’t think Conservatives have any bullshit detectors.

    FUX, Rush, Drudge, etc., just scream “BULLSHIT!!!” to non-Conservatives!

    Conservatives hear the same words, and think, “Ah – FACTS!!!”

    If a reliable source gave them a pie full of actual shit from and actual bull, and told them it was an apple pie, Conservatives would gladly gobble it down, and ask for seconds.

    And then wonder what Liberal or minority stole the ice-cream, so they couldn’t have it a la mode

  12. You’ve got it backwards. The human animal just purely loves to kill. and uses Religion to justify his actions after the fact.

    • The human animal just purely loves to kill. and uses Religion to justify his actions after the fact.

      Do you love to kill? If not, are you not human?

  13. Maha and cund gulag,

    I was talking about a week ago with a friend of mine. We both agreed on four things:

    That Al Jazeera America had the best news coverage on TV, that Christians would s*** in their pants if they actually heard what Jesus said, that $10 was a great price for 170 paper plates that could be used in a microwave, aand that the “war on Christmas” was real and was being conducted by Wal-Mart, K-Mart and other retailers.

    Oh yeah, I don’t think I responded but Jerry said he was fond of Buddha and I agreed with him that Christians would be even more astounded by what Jesus said in Aramaic rather than the tepid translations presented in their Bibles.

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