Tim Blair


New Criterion



Wednesday, November 10, 2004
The Smithsonian Institution, no novice in the culture wars, co-sponsored a contest for teachers. They had to propose teaching plans to guide students to an understanding of 9/11.

Do you have a sense of dread already? Call it rational anxiety, because here, in Jacob Laksin's summary, is the result.
Call it Blame America 101. Outspoken leftist activist and fifth grade teacher Bob Peterson, whose plan to teach 9-11 at elementary schools was selected as one of the four winning entries, urges students to consider the attacks “in the broader context of global injustice.” To wrap their young minds around terrorism, Peterson contends, they must first untangle the “tough questions,” such as, “Why do they hate us?” Another winner, Iowa middle school teacher Tracy Paxton, recommends a vocabulary lesson. Among the words she believes shed light on the nature of terrorism are, “Al Qaeda,” “Saddam Hussein,” “stereotype,” “Taliban,” and, ominously, “Right wing.”
If these teachers can't take the terrorists' motives from their own words, they could read this Harvard study. Trouble is, if they did understand the roots of Islamism, the Smithsonian wouldn't award them any prizes.

Later: the link to the Harvard study is a dog. Short of finding it again, here is another study making a similar point.