by Robert Schmad
A textbook assigned to students at a North Carolina community college states that COVID-19 protocols “saved tens of thousands of lives” while Americans who disagreed with those restrictions caused deaths.
“Most Americans responded to the pandemic by limiting their social contact, covering their faces when going out, and washing their hands thoroughly after they did,” the passage begins and then continues with, “yet lives were lost because some Americans held beliefs that were at odds with the facts.”
The textbook appeared in the POL 120: American Government course at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte.
This excerpt is drawn from a textbook titled “We the People: An Introduction to American Government,” specifically from a chapter dedicated to critical thinking and detecting misinformation.
Thomas E. Patterson, the author of the textbook, has published a number of works and made public statements indicating that he may have liberal leanings.
Patterson also put out a tweet last year that reads “A #pandemic calls for leadership. We got Agent Orange,” mocking both former President Trump’s skin tone and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked by Campus Reform if he thinks his personal political beliefs influenced the content of his educational materials, Patterson said that “Some of my beliefs do enter into my work, as is the case with every author.”
“I’m a firm believer in strong and effective institutions,” he added. “That was the goal of the framers of the Constitution and underpins nearly the entirety of the constitutional design.”
“I believe also in the importance of evidence-based opinion and policymaking” he continued. “Facts matter. They’re not the whole of thoughtful responses to governing challenges. People differ in their values, and it is largely differences in values that account for political divides.”
Patterson also discussed the value he places on maintaining political norms, a healthy party system, and America’s diversity.
In a statement to Campus Reform, Patterson described himself as “lean[ing] toward centrism and incrementalism”, a position he believes is “what the US Constitution was designed to promote.” He cited constitutional protections against “extreme radical or reactionary impulses” to support this position and lamented the shrinking share of political moderates in the country.
In addition to reviewing the textbook, Campus Reform obtained screenshots of a quiz the American Government students were assigned.
The quiz asserts that CNN less likely to be a biased source of news whereas a conservative outlet is most likely to be biased or promoting a story for ideological reasons.
Campus Reform also spoke with a student in American Government who wished to remain anonymous, believing that identifying themselves could negatively impact their grade.
According to the anonymous student, the assigned readings and related coursework “[aren’t] allowing me or other students to think critically about things.”
Central Piedmont responded to the student’s allegations by stating that the college “believes that the student in question has been encouraged to think critically.”
“Textbooks reflect the knowledge and the opinions of the authors, not necessarily the college,” Vice President of Communications Jeff Lowarance stated. “Central Piedmont students always are encouraged to question and discuss their class materials.”
The college also expressed its hope to Campus Reform that the student engages in discussion with their instructor and classmates regarding their disagreement with the text.
Campus Reform has reached out to both the course instructor and the textbook’s publisher for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.
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Robert Schmad is a Georgia Campus Correspondent with Campus Reform. He is a sophomore at Emory University, double majoring in Finance and Political Science. He is affiliated with the Emory College Republicans and International Relations Association.