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Fighting Inaccuracies When Referring to Norma Gabler

Our jaws kinda dropped over the weekend when we saw the Houston Chronicle’s obit of Norma Gabler. The paper picked up a story from the Longview News-Journal, the woman’s hometown paper, and ran it unquestioningly.

Here’s the lede: “Norma Gabler dedicated much of the last 46 years of her life to the facts and to making sure textbook publishers get them right.” The headline was “Gabler Fought For Textbook Accuracy.”

That description of the Gablers (Norman worked with her late husband Mel) is like an obit saying “Rush Limbaugh – He Fought For A Better America.”

(The inestimable blog “Greg’s Opinion,” by the way, has taken notice of this before we could get to a keyboard.)

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I used to cover textbook battles back in the day, and some of the “inaccuracies” the Gablers were noted for fighting were such things as teaching evolution in science books. Or criticizing civics books that allegedly emphasized the Equal Rights Amendment over the traditional stay-at-home Mom. Or making sure that marriage was defined as only between a man and a woman.

They did point out inaccuracies in textbooks, and that’s great; they also said that Ronald Reagan sending the army into Grenada (remember that?) should be described as “a rescue” and not “an invasion.”

The Gablers were entitled to their opinions, of course, and they were entitled to the right to fight vigorously for their views. Readers of the Chron, though, were entitled to a fairer view of what they were about. – Richard Connelly

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