Until yesterday, the most-infamous case of OC mass schoolkid indoctrination was a 1961 rally at Glover Stadium in Anaheim held by the Orange County School of Anti-Communism, a red-baiting machine whose members included Walter Knott and the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, and whose paranoia set the stage for our modern-day conservatism. They convinced the OC school districts at the time to bus over 7,000 high-schoolers to Glover, so they could hear speech after speech about the evils of communism disguised as liberalism.
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Nothing so wackjob happened yesterday at Angels Stadium, when--as the mainstream media will tell you--about 15,000 third-graders, teachers, and parents attended a presentation on Orange County history and in the course set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for the largest mass history lesson (quick aside: didn't you like the book better when it concentrated on fat twins on bikes?). Yet even a cursory glance can easily see that what happened yesterday wasn't history taught so much as a giant commercial for its various sponsors and masterminds.
The event, titled "Orange County's Gift of History," was held by something called the Children's Education Foundation of Orange County (CEFOC), and you know they have to be a shady organization given that they count former Anaheim mayor/permanent on-the-make politico Curt Pringle and Orange County Department of Education superindendent William Habermehl as board members. It originally started as an Anaheim-only effort, in which Curt and councilwoman Gail Eastman got the city's third-graders to learn about Anaheim history--or rather, read Eastman's book on Anaheim history, Anna's Home by the River. But this year, Pringle and Eastman decided to branch out of Anaheim and hold a countywide event, now using a history book written by another OC politico: Stan Oftelie, the former OCTA head whose new tome, Nothing Rhymes with Orange, is conveniently aimed at third-graders.
None of these are professional historians, and the master of ceremonies at the Angels Stadium event yesterday definitely wasn't: Caroline Sunshine, who apparently is some sort of Disney Channel star, Disney being a big sponsor of the event. Other conflicts of interest masquerading as history? I've yet to actually hear the program, but the Orange County Register (a sponsor, a point reporter Eric Carpenter failed to mention in his piece) wrote that Southern California Edison (a sponsor) senior vice president of public affairs Gaddi Vasquez--yes, that Gaddi Vasquez, the disgraced ex-supervisor--spoke about the importance of water...maybe because the Orange County Water District was a sponsor? Carpenter also said Anaheim Angels (a sponsor) broadcaster Jose Mota talked--bizarrely--about transportation issues...maybe because one of the sponsors was Cofiroute USA, the operator of the 91 Express Lanes? And Mickey Mouse, a presenter a history lecture? Where was Andy Anaheim when you needed him?
After the corporate mass indoctrination, kiddies left with a backpack filled with Oftelie's book and...corporate propaganda. I haven't gotten a hold of one of these backpacks (and if your kiddie went, por favor send one along!), but documents obtained by the Weekly show that CEFOC promised companies who donated $10,000 or more "inserts into tote bags (e.g., company fliers, pens with corporation logo, etc.). Because NOTHING says OC history like a Southern California Gas Company eraser...