COMMENTARY | This story is still developing, and, as such, there are still many moving pieces.
In an advanced placement geography class at Lumberton High School, Lumberton, Texas a day ago, the teacher did a block of instruction covering Islam and the Middle East. During that lesson, according to several students, she made the comment that 9/11 terrorists should be referred to as “freedom fighters” and made a further comparison to the fact that our forefathers were “freedom fighters” as well (in terms of fighting the British).
According to Fox News:
“April LeBlanc’s 15-year-old daughter was one of the students in the photograph. She told Fox News that many parents in the district feel betrayed by school officials.
” ‘My biggest thing is not the burqa,’ she said. ‘That was the key to opening up the rest. It’s scary how far they dove into the Islamic faith. It’s scary what they taught my daughter. Who’s in charge of this? How did our superintendent let this slip through the cracks?’
“LeBlanc said the students were told that they could no longer use the terms suicide bomber or terrorist. Instead, they were instructed to use the words ‘freedom fighters.’
” ‘This teacher taught her that a freedom fighter is when they give their life for the Holy War – and that they’re going to go to heaven,’ she told Fox News’They were saturating these kids in Islam and my daughter is an American Christian child.’
“Madelyn LeBlanc told Fox News that it was clear her teacher was very uncomfortable lecturing the students.
” ‘I do have a lot of sympathy for her,’ the 15-year-old said. ‘At the very beginning she said she didn’t want to teach it but it was in the curriculum.’ “
Before we move forward, let’s make one clear distinction.
1) Our forefathers, in case it was somehow lost in translation, were part of what was known as the “colonies.” Those “colonies” were owned by the British, and as such were subjected to a host of forced injustices by the “parent nation” (Britain.) Therefore, when our forefathers did what they did, they were in fact “fighting for their freedom.” Because, you know, they lived in lands controlled by another nation. Something tangible, that those people could actually see and bear witness to with facts and evidence, like the Stamp Act.
2) The United States of America does not and as far as I know, has never “owned” any Middle Eastern countries. Period. If I’m wrong, feel free to correct me on that point. Furthermore, I also fail to see how flying two planes into the largest buildings (at the time) in New York City had anything to do with someone fighting for their “freedom.” Freedom from what? Or are we to use the “holy war” statement as fact? Are we to take the statement that those individuals are going to some kind of afterlife? That cannot be proven or seen?
The real point of concern for me and others is that, for generations of students who are becoming further and further removed from the time that the September 11, 2001 attacks occurred, this is a very dangerous line to be walking by sugar-coating who did what back then.
Now. That being said, it is absolutely incumbent upon us as a species (homo sapiens sapiens) to learn that we’re all from the same planet. We’re all stuck on this planet together. Regardless of skin color, nationality, belief system, or anything else that people find to argue about, we’re all the same herd, and, until such a time that we realize that, we’re going to have issues. I understand and support the want and the logic behind wanting to teach different cultures, nationalities, etc. in the classroom. It’s necessary. So my question is, if they should be called freedom fighters, then is it not incumbent upon the teacher to provide a concise, logical explanation as to why they think of themselves that way?
It is also incumbent upon the students and the parents to begin to understand that 1) YES – we are from different cultures. 2) YES – it is okay to learn about different cultures. 3) YES – those other cultures are still going to be out there when your child leaves the house and heads out into the real world. 4) NO – because you don’t know something is not sufficient cause to be afraid of it. 5) NO – because you were raised or taught a certain way doesn’t make it right. 6) NO – bigotry is not okay, as a matter of fact, it’s a disease that needs to be eradicated.
What children think of each other, other countries, and other belief systems begins at the home and how they are raised.
Quite understandably, this class caused quite the stir in the small Southeast Texas community and as normally happens in small communities, the story spread from mouth to ear with very little fact and very much spin. One of the more extreme examples of this can be found here. Even the quote from Fox earlier does not really get down to the heart of the matter. For this reason, it was decided this should be an opinion piece, rather than fact, as no hard facts exist as of yet to say one way or the other on this situation.
A local news channel, KFDM did an impromptu report with two students and the superintendent, whose stories do not coincide with what was stated earlier regarding the freedom fighters and the forced wear of Burqas, which goes to further show that hearsay and the ‘small town syndrome’ can strike fast and hard, obscuring facts and data.
The bottom line is this.
The world is moving rapidly into the 21st century. 2,000 year old beliefs in bogey men and imaginary friends need to come to an end and be placed on the shelves next to other curiosities for examination and historical study. For this situation in Lumberton, Texas to get to where it has is an example of what religion does to the world. It galvanizes one man or woman against another with intolerance, misinformation, and hatred; and it’s time that someone put a stop to it. 2001 and the actions that occurred back then were the direct acts of terrorists, motivated by unprovable, illogical, irrational religious nonsense -and as a result of their actions we lost nearly 5,000 of our citizens. To call them ‘freedom fighters’ or to in any other glamorize what they did (regardless of the point of view) – is ridiculous and is only serving to cloud the minds of a generation of youth who are far removed from the events of 12 years ago.
I will provide updates to this opinion piece as I receive them from home.