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Educators Should Level with Students About Blame for Nine-Eleven


Gregory J. Rummo

AUGUST 20, 2002

THE RECENT DISCOVERY of a cache of videotapes found in a house where bin Laden stayed in Afghanistan, should be enough to dispel any lingering doubts about who is to blame for the terror attacks in America on nine-eleven.

Bin Laden says on one tape, “By God's grace we have formed with many other Islamic groups and organizations in the Islamic world a front called the International Islamic Front to do jihad against the crusaders and Jews and by God's grace, the men ... are going to have a successful result in killing Americans and getting rid of them.”

The discovery of this videotape with its outright admission of guilt coming from the hate-filled monsters starring in it must have the leaders of the National Education Association running for cover.

It was only earlier this week that The Washington Times reported the largest teacher’s union in the world was offering lesson plans on their website for the nation's public school teachers to use in discussing the September 11 terrorist attacks.

In among the material—most of which is good by the way—are lesson plans encouraging teachers not to assign blame to the Islamic-extremists who carried out the hijackings since none of the terrorists have been convicted in a court of law.

One link I followed on the NEA’s website led to a page on PBS’s website titled “America Responds, Tolerance In Times of Trial.”

The page suggests teachers refer to past incidences of discrimination in America during times of war. “Use the treatment of citizens of Japanese and German ancestry during World War II—looking specifically at media portrayals of these groups and internment camps—as historical examples of ethnic conflict during times of trial; explore the problems inherent in assigning blame to populations or nations of people.”

I agree that there should be zero tolerance for discrimination against any ethnic group in America, including Arab-Americans. Unfortunately the NEA is making a grave miscalculation by encouraging teachers to deflect blame away from the Arab terrorists behind the events of nine-eleven and to instead look inwardly, as if Americans were somehow responsible for the attacks that claimed over 3,000 lives a year ago.

Any time one group sidesteps or denies the obvious truth the result is a backlash with the unintended consequences of fostering the very animosity it is attempting to quell.

A better approach would be for teachers to level with their students. This is what I would say to my class if given the opportunity: “A year ago the United States was attacked by a group of Islamic extremists. The people who attacked us believe it is the will of God to kill Jews and Americans. Now we know that this is impossible. God is good and this could never be His will. While it is clear that these people hate everything about us—our culture, our democratic form of government, our capitalistic economy, our religious freedom and our support for Israel—we must do
everything in our power not to hate them in return.

"If we hate them, we become what they are.”

I would then assign a paper—300 words or less—to explain in the student's own words and in the words of one great historical figure of the student's own choosing, why bitterness and hatred is so destructive.

I might even go so far as to challenge them by writing these words from Jesus recorded in the New Testament book of Luke on the blackboard: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.”

Teachers are role models. They should level with their students even if the facts are hard to swallow.

And then they should do what they do best—teach them—that regardless of the facts, they must learn to love and not to hate.

Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist and author of “The View from
the Grass Roots,” published in July, 2002 by American-Book. You may order an
autographed copy from his website by clicking on the
banner below. You may e-mail the author at

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