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September 10, 2004

Cookie Monster

There's nothing like teaching fifth graders arrant nonsense when it comes to winning an educational award.

Bob Peterson teaches students that overpopulation and poverty help make it easier to recruit terrorists for attacks like those on Sept. 11, 2001.

Schools have been teaching about Sept. 11 since that morning nearly three years ago, but this year, Families of September 11, founded by victims' relatives, is honoring Peterson and three others for curricula on terrorism's root causes. At a Smithsonian Institution (news - web sites) conference today, the group will issue guidelines for educators.

In one of Peterson's lessons, students stand, arranged by population, on a huge world map. Peterson hands out cookies according to gross national products: The 16 students in Asia each get one cookie, and the three in Africa split half a cookie among them. In North America, one student enjoys eight cookies.

If overpopulation and poverty bred terrorists, then Hong Kong and Haiti would be the world epicenters of terrorism. Funny how no one from those countries has been tied to 9/11, Beslan, or the Bali bombing. Funny how The Baader-Meinhof Gang, The Red Brigades, and the Red Army of Japan were all founded in some of the richest countries in the world. Funny how there's not a mention of overpopulation or terrorism in this Muslim condemnation of the attack in Beslan.

Obviously not all Muslims are terrorists but, regrettably, the majority of the terrorists in the world are Muslims. The kidnappers of the students in Ossetia are Muslims. The kidnappers and killers of the Nepalese workers and cooks are also Muslims. Those who rape and murder in Darfour are Muslims, and their victims are Muslims as well. Those who blew up the residential complexes in Riyadh and Al-Khobar are Muslims. Those who kidnapped the two French journalists are Muslims. The two [women] who blew up the two planes [over Russia] a week ago are Muslims. Bin Laden is a Muslim and Al-Houthi [the head of a terrorist group in Yemen] is a Muslim. The majority of those who carried out suicide operations against buses, schools, houses, and buildings around the world in the last ten years are also Muslims.

"What a terrible record. Does this not say something about us, about our society and our culture? If we put all of these pictures together in one day, we will see that these pictures are difficult, embarrassing, and humiliating for us. However, instead of avoiding them and justifying them it is incumbent upon us first of all to recognize their authenticity rather than to compose eloquent articles and speeches proclaiming our innocence…

"Islam has suffered an injustice at the hands of the new Muslims… We will only be able to clear our reputation once we have admitted the clear and shameful fact that most of the terrorist acts in the world today are carried out by Muslims. We have to realize that we cannot correct the condition of our youth who carry out these disgraceful operations until we have treated the minds of our sheikhs who have turned themselves into pulpit revolutionaries who send the children of others to fight while they send their own children to European schools."

In fact, despite what Mr. Peterson is filling his students’ heads with, the "root cause" of terrorism is a conscious decision on the part of those who become terrorists to seek political power through violence. It has nothing to do with overcrowding or poverty and everything to do with the desire to impose one's will on the world via any means possible. It is authoritarian in nature and origin--springing from Communism and the Soviet Union in the 70s and Wahabism and Saudi Arabia in the 90s.

Mr. Peterson's classes would be more helpful to his students, not to mention more realistic, if he had one child beat the others for not eating their cookies in a proscribed way. But somehow I doubt that the Families of Sept 11 hands out awards for realism.

Posted by Bigwig at September 10, 2004 12:31 PM | TrackBack
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I dunno. This is a great approach, providing you accept the premise that they hate us for rational reasons that we can do something about. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure, based on the terrorists own words, that anything short of mass suicide, or mass conversion to a hideously backward form of Islam, will not save us.

But then, kids shouldn't have to deal with too much reality early on in their lives, so why shouldn't teachers spoon out some Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, and Susan Sontag in the classroom?

Posted by: Blackavar at September 10, 2004 03:32 PM

You know, I bet that if the child who got eight cookies decided to share, the teacher would be upset that they were "missing the point", not understanding true volunteerism.

Posted by: B. Durbin at September 11, 2004 03:41 PM
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