It’s the jihad, stupid

Teaching about 9/11 shouldn’t softpedal jihad, writes Martin Davis on Education Gadfly.

By passing off bin Laden as an extremist dismissed by the Muslim world, we delude ourselves and mislead our pupils by minimizing the extent to which jihadist ideology will continue to rear its head in the future.

So it’s disappointing that at least two high school textbooks avoid the issue of jihad altogether. Both Glencoe’s The American Vision: Modern Times, and World History: Modern Times, cover the events of 9/11 without ever mentioning the term. And these books aren’t alone in their failure to address the history of Muslim of terrorism, as even the left-leaning magazine The Nation grudgingly concedes.

Most teachers know a lot more about the failings of America than they do about the Muslim world. If any of you readers are doing 9/11 lessons on Monday, tell us what you’re planning and why.

Update: Here’s a link to Crystal Morning, which includes footage shot by eyewitnesses to the attack in New York City.

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Comments

  1. Heck, maybe science teachers can spend a day debunking the myths around the collapse of the Towers, such as the one saying that jet fuel doesn’t burn hot enough to melt steel.

    And this is what you get in a society that refuses to place blame on individuals out of sensitivity to their situations. The Islamic world is poor, violent, and less successful than ours, so it’s acceptable when they lash out through terrorism. Seems like an argument made about different racial/ethnic groups as they immigrated to the US (Africans, Irish, etc.) And yet, the same individuals who proudly condemn discrimination also proudly proclaim their tolerance of Islam as described above.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Let them hear all the internal explosion theories, than show the bin-Laden tape.

  3. Indigo Warrior says:

    SuperSub:

    And this is what you get in a society that refuses to place blame on individuals out of sensitivity to their situations.

    It has more to do with tribalism than anything else. Tribes count more than individuals, in the eyes of both the Left and Right. (The difference is that the Right values its own tribe/nation above all, but the left values foreign ones.) So individuals willing to die for their tribe, or any cause greater than themselves, are absolved of personal blame.

    So a cabal of ten or so Saudi oil millionaires decides to hijack planes filled with innocent passengers and fly them into enemy landmarks, it should be their fault. They should be seen as terrorists, assassins – not martyrs.

    Spock was right, in that episode of Star Trek when he was puzzled by the Terran tendency to sanctify groups that use violence, but demonize individuals that use violence against groups.

    The Islamic world is poor, violent, and less successful than ours, so it’s acceptable when they lash out through terrorism.

    Which we both know is bull. There are many people from non-Islamic nations, states, and tribes that are pretty damn poor and unsuccessful, but none of them use airliners as flying bombs.

  4. Joanne Jacobs says:

    For TypeKey victim WahooFive:

    One reason teachers don’t talk about jihad might be that it doesn’t really mean “randomly killing people in the name of Allah” but rather something more like “striving,” which could apply to a retreat into a monastery or any number of other situations as well as “holy war.” The American instinct to dumb everything down doesn’t have to be supported by schoolteachers.

    If they want to teach about Wahhabi Islam and its extremist theology, however, that might be useful. However, regardless of what Martin Davis thinks, the wahhabists do represent a minority view which is rejected by most Muslims. That doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, but we don’t have to stretch the truth.

    > And these books aren’t alone in their failure to address the history of Muslim of terrorism

    What does this mean under its ungrammatical facade? There have been terrorists throughout Muslim history? So have there been throughout Catholic history, or American history. That doesn’t make terrorism the most important element in history.

    wahoofive

  5. Indigo Warrior says:

    JoanneJacobs:
    If they want to teach about Wahhabi Islam and its extremist theology, however, that might be useful. However, regardless of what Martin Davis thinks, the wahhabists do represent a minority view which is rejected by most Muslims. That doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous, but we don’t have to stretch the truth.

    The enemy is truly Wahhabism, not Islam itself – but trust certain Christian conservatives not to see these fine points. Wahhabism was useful for the West in the Cold War, turning oil-rich Arabs against godless communism, but times have changed considerably since 1973. (Wahhabism also failed to turn oil-rich Arabs from feudalism to modern capitalism.)

  6. Robert Wright says:

    How about teaching that there were far fewer jihadests bent on killing Americans before Bush invaded Iraq.

    Mr. Bush has radicalized a lot more Muslims than bin Laden ever dreamed of doing.

  7. jihad […] doesn’t really mean “randomly killing people in the name of Allah” but rather something more like “striving,”

    Or like “crusade?”

    How about teaching that there were far fewer jihadests bent on killing Americans before Bush invaded Iraq.

    Is that a known fact? I suppose it is if you count Iraqi insurgents operating inside Iraq, but even they seem more interested in killing Iraqi civilians than in killing Americans.

  8. Indigo – “The Islamic world is poor, violent, and less successful than ours, so it’s acceptable when they lash out through terrorism.” was meant sarcastically, representing the mindset of many who explain away terroist acts.

    “The enemy is truly Wahhabism, not Islam itself” –
    Please see my response to Wahoo below. Also, that viewpoint is not unique to Christians, so that backhanded comment was baseless.

    Wahoo – “wahhabists do represent a minority view which is rejected by most Muslims” Funny, I have yet to hear a resounding condemnation of terrorist acts by “most Muslims.” I do not doubt that many disapprove, but I fear they are willing to tolerate their brothers’ actions because it advances a common cause.

    Robert – Trust me, hundreds of years of jihad led by radical Muslim (Wahhabi or not) clerics have tainted the Middle East… they were no more peaceful nor violent before we invaded Iraq.

  9. There have been terrorists throughout Muslim history? So have there been throughout Catholic history, or American history.

    Can you give an example of Catholic terrorism and American terrorism? Just curious.

  10. Robert Wright wroghte:

    Sorry Robert, I couldn’t help myself.

    How about teaching that there were far fewer jihadests bent on killing Americans before Bush invaded Iraq.

    In view of all the attacks that preceeded 9/11, the evidence for this radicalization would be?

    Mr. Bush has radicalized a lot more Muslims than bin Laden ever dreamed of doing.

    By toppling a brutal dictator who was an equal opportunity killer of at least several thousand people per month for almost three decades? Somehow I don’t think Muslims in general and Iraqis in particular look longingly back on those golden, pre-invasion days.

    But hey, I could be wrong and it’s not too late to fix things. Saddam Hussein is still alive and since American forces are still the most powerful in the region, well, we knocked him out of power maybe we ought to put him back. You think that would deradicalize all those Muslims?

    Joanne Jacobs wrote:

    The American instinct to dumb everything down doesn’t have to be supported by schoolteachers.

    I don’t know, it seems to be a wide spread enough phenomenon that I can’t believe that the dumbing down is driven entirely by chance. There must be some reason why teachers do have to support that dumbing down. Not necessarily a reason that would withstand the light of day but a reason none the less.

  11. The “dumbing down” phenomenom seems to be tied to the personalized education fad – education is no longer providing knwoledge, but attempting to teach students to think critically. As such, each student is different and has their own capabilities, so the overall standards are lessened to accomodate those differences.

  12. Indigo Warrior says:

    Wahhabism is a powerful minority sect of Islam; the only one with petromegabucks, the only one that can build all the mosques they want and appoint their own imams. Suppose that all the Christian denominations in the USA were dirt poor except for one wacked-out Christian Identity sect which owns all the oil wells in Texas, and the media, police, and courts. That is pretty much the state of modern Islam.

    Joe Muslim may love or hate the Wahhabis, but he does fear them. He’s probably neutral re. America, Iraq, Israel/Palestine etc. If Joe joins in the Wahhabi chorus against these approved targets, he loses nothing. If he speaks out against the Wahhabi bully-boys or for America and Israel, he gets a bomb in the mail.

    Trust me, a good many Muslims would be dancing in the street once the Saudi regime finally falls, and the dread Wahhabis are cut off from their oil.

    Distance from Arabia is a factor too. Indonesians and Malaysians have an easygoing style of Islam and care little for Wahhabism, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, or Al-Qaeda.

  13. Wayne Martin says:

    Robert Wright Wrote:

    > Mr. Bush has radicalized a lot more Muslims
    > than bin Laden ever dreamed of doing.

    Muslims seem to be pretty easy to “radicalize”, it seems. Back in the late ’90s Salman Rushie managed to earn himself a death warrant because of some few words in Satanic Verses:


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/581258.stm

    Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 21:12 GMT
    Iranians offer kidneys for Rushdie’s head

    More than 500 Iranians have pledged to sell one of their kidneys to pay for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie, condemned to death 10 years ago by religious decree.

    Islamic militia in the holy Shi’ite city of Mashhad were behind the campaign, which was endorsed by officials in the elite Revolutionary Guards, the hardline Iranian daily Kayhan reports.

    A total of 508 people, including six Muslims from countries outside Iran, have signed up to sell a kidney, Kayhan said.

    By the way, Robert, what would it take to “radicalize” someone like yourself to sell a kidney to help pay for a “hit” on someone like Salman Rushdie?

  14. Indigo Warrior says:

    allen:
    I don’t know, it seems to be a wide spread enough phenomenon that I can’t believe that the dumbing down is driven entirely by chance. There must be some reason why teachers do have to support that dumbing down. Not necessarily a reason that would withstand the light of day but a reason none the less.

    Simple. It’s easier for them.
    Teachers don’t have to work so hard to present a dumbed-down curriculum. And again, not to put down the good smart hard-working teachers … but the teaching profession does have trouble attracting the Best and the Brightest.

    SuperSub:
    The “dumbing down” phenomenom seems to be tied to the personalized education fad – education is no longer providing knwoledge, but attempting to teach students to think critically. As such, each student is different and has their own capabilities, so the overall standards are lessened to accomodate those differences.

    I see no reason why “knowledge” and “critical thinking” must be mutually exclusive. In any good educational regime, they reinforce each other. Of course true critical thinking is difficult to teach, and most policy-level attempts at such result in ersatz leftoid babble.

    And if education is truly personalized, then the standards fit each student, and there can be no dumbing.

    The nature of government schools means a certain amount of dumbing-down in the very structure of the system itself. Cheaper than private tutors, yes, but better?

  15. Just to clarify, the “dumbing down” comment was made by wahoofive. I posted it for him because TypeKey had blocked him out for unknown reasons.

  16. Indigo Warrior wrote:
    If he speaks out against the Wahhabi bully-boys or for America and Israel, he gets a bomb in the mail.

    But that’s exactly what needs to happen. If there are, in fact, “moderate” muslims, they need to speak out – publicly, loudly. An islamic reformation needs to take place, and that can only happen from within. Until it does, islam itself is the problem.

    Of course, I don’t believe such a reformation is possible, so it’s really a moot point with me. 🙂

  17. Robert Wright says:

    Teaching students about Islam is difficult because there’s a lot of ignorance and disagreement among learned adults.

    I admit a lot of ignorance on the matter and I’m trying to keep an open mind.

    When I first heard some people say that there’s something inherent in Islam that would cause violence and fanaticism, I dismissed it as racism. But now I’m not so sure.

    I still hear a lot of right wing, pro Bush racism, but some of the critical questions being raised about Islam is from people like Steve Lopez of the L. A. Times.

    Why on Earth would a 25 year old mother of two strap on some explosives and blow herself up? And why are there millions of people who would regard her as a martyr?

    Does it have to do with religion? Or is there some sort of soci-economic-historic stuff that comes into play?

    I honestly don’t know.

    But I do know that it’s sick.

    And the fact that there are millions who would consider her a martyr has me baffled and worried.

    I don’t have the answers because though I see the problem, I don’t understand it.

    But it does seem that Bush’s approach is throwing gasoline on fire.

  18. Wayne Martin says:

    For Robert Wright:

    If you’re not already familiar with Islam, here’s a little reading to get you going:

    On-line Koran:
    http://www.hti.umich.edu/k/koran/
    http://etext.virginia.edu/koran.html

    History of Islam:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Islam
    http://www.barkati.net/english/

    The Capiphate:
    http://www.umich.edu/~iinet/worldreach/assets/docs/crusades/BackArab.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caliph

    Oh, and one other thing, the word “Islam” means “submission” in arabic (one source suggests: Islam means the readiness of a person to take orders from God and to follow them).

    If you dig around in the Koran, you’ll find various passages that suggest that non-believers should be killed. There are not a large number of such passages, and like most religious texts, subject to interpretation.

  19. Robert Wright said: I don’t have the answers because though I see the problem, I don’t understand it.

    Read THIS.