American Students Protest History Curriculum, Chinese Reactions

American students in Denver, Colorado take to the streets to protest changes to their history curriculum that would emphasize patriotism and discourage civil disorder.


From NetEase:

American High School Students in Denver Go on Strike Protesting History Textbook Changes

2014 September 25 local time, Bear Creek High School and Pamona Public High School students have collectively went on strike, heading to Denver’s suburbs to protest. They took off their shirts in the streets to protest the new history curriculum. According to reports, the new history curriculum will increase emphasis on patriotism, as well as discourage violent resistance against the government.









Comments from NetEase:

为专制辩护的都是伍毛狗 [网易广东省网友]:

They don’t know how good they have it. Really shout have you come live in China.

阿妹爱穿绣花鞋 [网易广东省河源市网友]:

They don’t know that in our China, history can be rewritten, can be “appropriately fabricated”, so it is more wonderful.

淚雨清荷 [一步成诗]:

Truly so bored their balls ache. Oh, and the skies in the photos are so blue.

真理粉碎机 [网易湖北省荆门市网友]:

The national consciousness of Americans: I love my country, but I am wary of the government!
Power by nature is greedy and expanding, and power that is not restricted is precisely the beginning of disaster!

网易陕西省西安市网友 ip:113.140.*.*

What I learned from textbooks: Without our country [government], there is no us, and the individual must obey the collective [group].

阳光照耀美利坚 [网易重庆市网友]:

Are you kidding me? Even high school students dare cause trouble?! Express dissatisfaction with the government?! Take a look at our students. If they’re not participating in science and technology competitions, then they’re participating in Olympiads. These… these… these American people are too silly, aren’t they?

威武大魔王 [网易广东省惠州市网友]:

Dare to demonstrate in opposition? What you are doing is defying the ZF! Arrest them all! In the future, they are prohibited from being employed, with this incident to be a stain in your lives [record].

未闻慰问微闻维稳 [网易广东省佛山市网友]:

Picture 6: First you take away my history, then you take away my rights.
Don’t shoot! I’m talking about America!

101911124 [网易北京市网友]:

If this were in our country, they would’ve been arrested long ago, long before they could raise signs in protest.

findlinlin [网易贵州省贵阳市网友]:

This is unacceptable! Chengguan, go!

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Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.

  • Repatriated

    Where is this Ameria of which you speak?

    • lacompacida

      It’s on a planet in Alpha Centauri.

      • Repatriated

        VERY happy to report that my wife and I are enjoying the “blue skies” here in the Alpha Centauri quadrant…also known as Denver.

    • Mahmet Tokarev

      Death to Ameria.

      • Repatriated

        May the fleas of 1,000 camels infest your armpits….
        Ha. AMERIA…F-YEAH!. LOL.

  • lonetrey / Dan

    The acceptance of their own fate in the Chinese comments is depressing.

    • SongYii

      Its really difficult to discern which ones are genuine and which ones are sarcastic.

      • hang

        Or, which are employed by the CCP to create misinformation.

      • damnarama

        I was thinking the same thing, a few of them could definitely be taken as sarcasm, but it’s hard to tell

    • Zack Snyder

      The high school students in Hong Kong right now are more courageous since their lives and future might be at stake.

      I wonder if anyone from the mainland is aware of what is happening in HK??

      • donscarletti

        I think many of them are aware. Most of them are thrilled by the thought of HK brought down to their level.

        Mainlanders by and large are quite resentful for what they see as preferential treatment for Hong Kong. “One country, two systems” is not so popular with the people of this country who are not part of the nice system.

        To be honest, I think the upper leadership probably likes the status quo. Hong Kong to these people brings a lot of convenience and opportunity that they enjoy. Problem is, mainland people as a whole do not like it at all and want Hong Kong brought closer to them in outlook and life experience.

        I think it’s not so much a disapproval of Hong Kong’s governance, but sour grapes.

      • Why all the umbrellas in HK protests by the way? Is it raining? It certainly does nothing against tear gas.

        • Kai

          They were for the pepper spray, not tear gas. Apparently at one point, they charged a police line with their umbrellas anticipating pepper spray, and I think the cops then fired tear gas.

          • Fair enough. Good answer.

          • Hank

            Wrong, they were sitting in the sun and didn’t want to get any darker and uglier lol, HK monkeys with glasses all of them.

      • Loukas

        Yes, they are quite aware here.

    • Irvin

      What can they do but accept? not like they never tried to changed things.

  • In the 5th photo, “We want facts, not opinions”
    I applaud their effort because the USA is going to need people to start questioning the status quo, but just because it is reported by the media or written in a book does NOT make it true.
    The winner writes the history and over time, the new generations accept this as fact.

    • lacompacida

      Any one can write history unless you are in China.

      • David

        Yes, there only the government writes the history.

  • Ken Morgan

    Considering the comments a few years ago about the Japanese Tsunami and karma for Pearl. I do not hold much hope.

    • Sean Van Cura

      I’m pretty sure that was a very very isolated opinion.

  • SongYii

    So many fat chicks.

    • mr.wiener

      I kinda miss corn fed Western boobies…even when draped in an American flag.

      • SongYii

        Its rice tits and clits all the way for me!

      • zachary T

        They miss you too

  • Guest


  • zachary T

    Chinese netizen sarcasm is the best, love those guys for it. as for this colorado thing, what do they consider “emphasis on patriotism”? actually saying the United States has done good things in its history? as for “discouraging violent resistance to govt” just talk about it the way its always been talked about, its not good but if the government actively destroys its people its the last line of defense ( that’s why we have the human right to be armed written down as our second amendment). too bad these high school students just think its a “right of passage” to protest something instead of actually thinking about what they are protesting.

  • Dr Sun

    “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”

    Hopefully one day the people of China will realize what this this means, sadly I doubt it.

    • Irvin

      Fear leads to pain, pain leads to hate, hate leads to suffering young padawan.

      • Jay K.

        lmao. thanks for making me snort my cup of twinings sleepy time

      • mr.wiener

        No pain, no gain.

        • Irvin

          The more things you own, the more they end up owning you.

          • Fritz Vanderhoffen

            Money doesn’t grow on trees, young man!

    • jixiang

      The sad part is that in China the government also fears the people. The problem is that there is no institutional arrangement which can stop the government from doing whatever it likes, so for instance they can censor certain website and search results, just because they fear people even looking at them.

    • A Touch of Sin

      whoa, did you just make that up?

      • David

        lol no this is a quote that is often attributed to Jefferson, Adams or Thomas Paine. As far as I remember there is no proof that any of them said it but it does sound like something any of them would say. My favorite version goes like this “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government.”

  • CIA

    “According to reports, the new history curriculum will increase
    emphasis on patriotism, as well as discourage violent resistance against
    the government.”

    You what?

    • iLcOrNaLiTo

      Signed: The United States of China

  • da_shan223

    Excerpt from modified textbooks: “By the 18th century, the North American continent had become a popular destination throughout the world. In fact, West Africans were known to sneak into the holds of ships and shackle themselves to walls–refusing to leave until they were transported to the Land of Opportunity. They sang songs of rejoice during the voyage and awaited the same welcome feast their fined feathered friends (see “Indians”, p. 201) partook in during the legendary Thanksgiving dinner. Instead they were ordered to work for free. Nevertheless, they considered this a fair trade to live in such a magical country. Today the descendants of West Africans enrich American culture with twerk videos and fulfill their civic duties by functioning as live target practice for police officers.”

  • Mahmet Tokarev

    These kids seem like obnoxious striver suckups. I bet they had some politically active teacher tell them to do this.

    • Paul Schoe

      You are clearly not educated in the West. Protesting is much more fun when it is NOT instructed by a teacher.

      Saying “I bet they had some politically active teacher tell them to do this.” does not take into account the dynamic under which such protests are developed and acted out and it ignores the personal development of individuals in many countries. It is precisely this individual development that separates different education systems.

      One might not agree with the protest, but immediately suggesting that it is staged from ‘higher-up’ is showing unbeleive at the freedom and inititiative that students can show.

      • donscarletti

        I was educated in the west and I am more inclined to go with Mahmet Tokarev’s assessment.
        These students would not be aware of the previous curriculum (since they did not study it) and would not be aware of the new curriculum taken as a whole until they have finished studying it. Students usually are not wary of change for the better or worse since they are young and this is their first time anyway.

        Also, students tend to be more narrowly and superficially focussed, terms they find offensive, specific actions they find unjust or on class related issues. If they could point at a paragraph and label it “sexist” or “racist” then yes, they might protest, but arguing about holistic focuses and objectives sounds like something an adult would do.

        • Paul Schoe

          I am really surprised about your comments, but I guess not every country is the same. Two remarks from my background:

          1) We have student ‘unions’. These ‘unions’ are formed by continiously rotating students that spend one or two years on looking at student issues and reporting to the students on that. Financing and student rights are part of that and changes in curriculum would definitely get a lot of attention.

          Yes, the average student will not know, and has not studied the curriculum. I fully agree with you on that. But the average student would be informed by his fellow students from the student ‘union’ or from student newspapers.

          2) Our students would bark at any initiative by a teachers who wanted them to go out in the field and protest for an issue that they themselves had not first considered worthwhile.
          Individual students would also generally not be able to get enough people for such a clearly visible protest. They would need some support from student organisations and the organisations will not simply follow the whimp of a teacher. They would feel that teachers have their own responsibility to take action, and they might participate in that.

          • donscarletti

            You had student unions in Highschool?

          • Hoppy1

            I did, in Australia.

          • donscarletti

            Which state?

            I went to three different high schools in NSW. None of them had unions. Prefects and captains also answered to the teachers and not the student body.

            I just asked a couple of fellow countrymen from Victoria, he didn’t encounter them at all either.

            University of NSW has a union, but it may as well not have one. While I was there it was wholly and solely interested in keeping unions mandatory and protested nothing else, since if the bulk of students got the choice, the union committees and societies would have to buy their own damn beer. Therunka, their little magazine was pretty much just a mouthpiece for this opinion and nothing else. Meanwhile it’s politics were so radical and so far departed from mainline student opinion that when they finally made it optional in my last semester, membership plummeted to record lows.

          • Hoppy1

            Qld. Grades 11 and 12 we had a student union…although I do feel it was more about letting students think their opinion actually mattered than it was an effective body itself. This was in the late 80’s.

          • Paul Schoe

            Yes we did, with elections and all.
            Very, very, very incidental we even had strikes ;-)

          • tomoe723

            Highschool is too early for protests on a state (or national) level. Most teens are still undergoing identity development, much less bother with these kinds of protests. If there’d be protests on how you described it, it would be quite local, quickly apparent, and personal or isolated, like protesting the too expensive muffins sold at the cafeteria, or against a teacher who made illicit advancements on certain female students. I know I had these protests back in highschool. Lol. But nothing of the sort about “patriotism in textbooks” and whatnots.

          • These protests ARE local, though.

            The textbook changes aren’t nationwide.

          • tomoe723

            It’s still state-wide. What I meant by local is concerning their own school only, and not affecting other schools.

        • guest

          Odds are it was filtered down the ranks, Schools governors -> media outlet / parents -> school students.

          Not only that but there is bound to be a open draft plan of planned changes, which would had been picked up by someone.

      • Mahmet Tokarev

        Actually I was educated in the West. HS teachers love to use the kids as a prop when they have a problem with the mandated curriculum.

        • Paul Schoe

          As I answered to Donscarletti: apparently not every country is the same. I hope (and think) that we were not so easily put in action for the teacher’s uses. We would seriously doubt and question any of such actions.
          However, I would find it very doubtful that teachers are behind a protest that is so actively done outside school premisses. Not only might the students object, but the potential repercussions can be high. It is too public.

      • ClausRasmussen

        I’m educated in the West and I’ve seen this many times before. Kids at that age are easily manipulated

        • Paul Schoe

          I accept the comments that are made, but even if students would accept it, I would expect such ‘teacher-influenced-actions’ only to take place at school premisses.
          This is on the public roads. It is too public. Too risky for a teacher (imho).

          • ClausRasmussen

            The demonstrations I’ve seen (and they’re no unusual sight) are all on public roads or squares.

            It is not like the teachers are heading the demonstrations, they are organized by the students themselves but the students are induced or manipulated into it by the teachers imo.

            It is noteworthy that often when teachers are against something, the students will protest even if they in reality couldn’t care less.

      • donscarletti

        Dear Paul,

        This was posted higher up in the thread but I thought you might take special interest.

        Point is, kids are stupid, shallow and easily manipulated, the perfect tool for demagogues to exploit. Look at the Cultural Revolution if you want a perfect example. If you really want freedom and democracy, you’ve got to be a little less naive.

        • Paul Schoe

          That clarifies a lot of what happened there. I wish that my Chinese as better so that I could find such background information on other topics that CS selects for us.

      • David

        The protests in Colorado WERE in fact not only started by but encouraged by the teachers unions there. These are affluent kids in the suburbs who have very few real problems in their lives. The teachers do not like the proposed text book changes (we can argue about the specifics of what they don’t like later) so through their unions and their students the staged this one day protest. I am sure there is a healthy mix of kids just doing what they are told, some who actually believe, some who wanted a day off school and some just doing what their friends are doing.

        • Paul Schoe

          Thanks for the info, I stand corrected

          • David

            Actually you had a good point, I have seen what you said many times. This was just not one of them. : )

    • guest

      Happens all over the world, prime example according to this blogger,

  • row row fight the power

  • Tom Rakewell

    “I have a right to learn” — “Education without limitation” — “I ‘heart’ my edu!”
    This is ridiculous. Anyone who actually values education will not limit themselves to a school textbook. For all of this protesting they could be in a public library learning far beyond what their teachers overlook in class. Hell, nowadays they can stay at home and read e-books, browse websites on a topic of interest, buy books online and have them delivered, etc. etc.

    • Brido227

      I get the feeling it’s less about the right to learn and more about the right to be taught stuff they find agreeable. Having said that, while every generation feels their parents’ generation has stuffed things up, this lot have rather better evidence than most. We really haven’t done a very good job of running the world.

      • David

        Who is “we”? I am a baby boomer and I think we did pretty good with the stupid stuff we had. That being said, I am working on being a financial and emotional burden to my kids and wearing a diaper all day long. : )

        • Brido227

          As Christine Keeler put it, “Well, he would say that wouldn’t he?” The last generation that’s actually done significantly more for the next than themselves was the wartime lot. Every generation since has actively squandered their inheritance.

          Kids might not know jack but the evidence they actually learn when they grow up isn’t convincing.

  • bB

    I want to contribute to this discussion, since I learn a lot about Chinese culture from ChinaSmack. And this is my way of giving back. Firstly, I believe the first paragraph is in error. The new curriculum is being criticized for NOT being favorable to American patriotism, and for discouraging disobedience.

    You see, Denver Colorado is a strongly liberal city where some very socialistic, liberal things have been happening over the past decade. Casual marijuana legalization is but one example. Ward Churchill was a college professor at University of Colorado when his Anti-American teachings were made nationally public. He blamed America for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and made despicable statements about those Americans who were killed.. He was fired later amidst allegations of academic misconduct.

    Anyway, American liberalism is often critical of American exceptionalism (i.e. often blames America for everything) , and is prone to social protests such as this. It is in the DNA of a liberal to protest so this is not really big or important here in the US. Also , it was not mentioned, but this is related to the High School’s A.P. curriculum only. This is advanced placement, which provides the smarter students accelerated curriculum similar to college curriculum. And in a liberal culture, these A.P. education systems often become very experimental and silly. So it is not uncommon for these types of education curricula to lean more and more toward an opinionated version of “America bashing”. Those liberal hippies of the Woodstock generation are those who are now teachers and professors, and politicians here. :(

    All in all, American education is in very bad condition compared to China’s. There have been efforts to teach in a way where no student is ever told that they are wrong. In math work, it is even suggested by some that 1+1 does not always HAVE to equal 2, as an example. A student may be given the freedom to come to his own “right” answer. This has also led to efforts to remove any competition from youth sports. In these cultures, no teams ever lose and the score is not kept. Every participant receives a trophy, win or lose. I know you probably cannot believe this but it has happened in some schools in the US. Perhaps this will shed a different light on these protests.

    • Cynic-Al

      Please, feel free to not “give back” anymore. Just keep it.

    • NeverMind

      Always include a ‘tldr;’ section bro…

    • Paul Schoe

      Thanks for the ‘give back’. I certainly do not agree with several of your statements, but it was certainly an interesting view and read and included some worthwile clarifications. Keep commenting, it makes the comment section more interesting.

    • Matt

      Top notch misinformation. Truly well done.

      And now for reality:

      The school board proposal that triggered the walkout calls for instructional materials that focus on positive aspects of US history and downplay eras of civil disobedience. It would establish a committee to regularly review texts and course plans, starting with Advanced Placement history, to make sure materials “promote citizenship, patriotism, essentials and benefits of the free-market system, respect for authority and respect for individual rights” and don’t “encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law.” This approach was drawn up by Julie Williams, a school board member who campaigned for the seat as “the conservative choice.”

    • Jazz88

      This is the biggest load of carp I have ever smelled. Thank you random man for your inaccurate and stupid answer.

      Failed American interventionism in the middle east, behavior that was inherited from Europe, is partially to blame for all forms of Islamic extremism. We overthrew the Iranian government with Operation Ajax, we sanctioned the death of at least 500,000 Iraqi children, we have ruthlessly supported Israel in all that they do, we have given aid to countless dictators in the region and armed pretty much every extremist dick-lick at some point or another.

      I wonder if those are covered in the controversial AP material?

      Then you go on and say that American education is worse off than Chinese education? HOLY GOD YOU HAVE NO F***ING IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT.

  • NeverMind

    Not to rain on their parade, but once you grow up who even remembers what they learned from school history books???

    • Paul Schoe

      Not in detail, but it certainly left an impression that I could be proud of my ancestors, while minimizing the harm that ‘we’ had done to others.

    • That is a good point, but perhaps it’s less important what you remember from your school history book.

      A more important question is once you grow up, who still wants to continue reading history books and learn all they can?

      Maybe what is taught from government-mandated books is not as important as teaching students to want to keep learning from any and all books on their own.

  • zachary T

    UPDATE! so it turns out this whole thing about “censorship” is a ruse. the school board is changing teacher pay rules so that teachers that actually do a good job get more money, which is the opposite of the current teachers union rules. Can someone tell the Chinese this is just a power-play for more money for government workers? they will understand that better….unfortunately.

    • “actually do a good job” is a very subjective statement.

      Do you mean the teachers do a good job at getting students to memorize standardized multiple choice test answers?

      Or do you mean the teachers do a good job at teaching students knowledge?

  • Zen my Ass

    Maybe they’re young and naive, maybe… but this is what a Democracy is made of, people who want answers.

    • BeetFarmer

      Exactly. Sometimes I hear the opinions of Chinese high school, university and grad school students and wonder if we could afford such socialist ideals in great numbers to contribute to the downfall of freedom in the United States.

  • America: Coming more socialist/communist by the minute. :(

  • MKYLee

    That comment about the blue skies really gets me

  • Guest

    ….. the bottled water.

    • Anjing

      Wasn’t that the major twist in Chan Koonchung’s ‘The Fat years’?

  • Rose

    Having a balanced view on history is good. I think being able to admit when your country made mistakes while also admitting when it did well is important in developing and continuing as a nation. So if promoting more “patriotic” education takes away the stupid mistakes and evil actions of fellow countrymen, I don’t want it. I mean, look at China and Japan both for what revisionism does to your country’s next generation.

  • Brido227

    Supposing – just for the sake of argument – there isn’t any one thing called ‘the truth’. Supposing a rational human being has to look at objective facts, interpret them in the light of their own experience and the opinions of others and come to their own conclusion?

    How can sticking to the classroom syllabus and never reading outwith it be anything other than restricting their intellect?

  • Hank

    I’m sorry (not really) but that kid in the leopard pants is one raging faggot.

  • nondimwit

    Retard Bush created The Patriot Act, but Obama has enforced it countless more times than GWB ever did, and the further we get into this administrations blunderous tenure the more our civil liberties are being quietly subverted. Having no loyalty to either party makes it easier to see what is really happening, and I suspect that the proud citizens of Denver are now starting to see the truth.