Denmark debates Muhammad art in textbooks

Denmark is debating printing Muhammad cartoons in text books and requiring social studies teachers to explain why the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten ran the cartoons in 2005, reports the Washington Post.

This was the most controversial of the "Muhammed cartoons" run in 2005 by a Danish newspaper.

This was the most controversial of the 2005 Muhammed cartoons printed in 2005 in a Danish newspaper.

Weeks ago, a gunman opened fire, killing one man, at a Copenhagen cafe hosting cartoonist Lars Vilks, who drew Muhammed as a dog in 2007.

Months ago, French journalists were murdered at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, known for its depictions of Muhammad.

Children need to learn about the cartoons, wrote Mai Mercado, a spokesman for the right-wing Conservative Party, in  Jyllands-Posten: “No matter how strong one’s religious feelings are, or how much one cultivates their religion, you do not earn the right to violence or threats.”

‘Not afraid’

“France was swept up in a wave of defiant demonstrations in defense of freedom of expression on Wednesday night,” reports The Telegraph.

In Paris, more than 35,000 gathered in the Place de la Republique “to show their solidarity with the families of the victims, and their refusal to be cowed by terrorists.”

Demonstrations were held in 150 cities and towns.

I agree completely with this New Yorker commentary by George Packer on The Blame for the Charlie Hebdo Murders.  He blames “an ideology that has sought to achieve power through terror for decades.”

Because the ideology is the product of a major world religion, a lot of painstaking pretzel logic goes into trying to explain what the violence does, or doesn’t, have to do with Islam. Some well-meaning people tiptoe around the Islamic connection, claiming that the carnage has nothing to do with faith, or that Islam is a religion of peace, or that, at most, the violence represents a “distortion” of a great religion.

. . . A religion is not just a set of texts but the living beliefs and practices of its adherents. Islam today includes a substantial minority of believers who countenance, if they don’t actually carry out, a degree of violence in the application of their convictions that is currently unique.

He concludes:

The cartoonists died for an idea. The killers are soldiers in a war against freedom of thought and speech, against tolerance, pluralism, and the right to offend—against everything decent in a democratic society. So we must all try to be Charlie, not just today but every day.

Read the whole thing.

Murdering satire

Translation: “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing.”

Masked gunmen claiming to “avenge” Mohammed killed 12 people at the Paris office of Charlie Hebdo, a satire magazine that made fun of Islamic terrorists.

Claire Berlinski was walking in Paris, when she saw the aftermath of the terror attack.

I also knew from the location just who’d been attacked: Charlie-Hebdo, the magazine known for many things, but, above all, for its fearlessness in publishing caricatures of Mohamed. They’d been firebombed for this in 2011, but their response — in effect — was the only one free men would ever consider: “As long as we’re alive, you’ll never shut us up.”

They are no longer alive. They managed to shut them up.

Here’s more on the murdered editor, cartoonists and writers. Two police officers protecting the office also were killed.

Here’s one of the Mohammed cartoons that Charlie Hebdo published:

All that needs to be said about Charlie Hebdo  #WeAreAllCharlieHebdo


Cartoonists have responded to the attack. But is it really true that pencils are stronger than guns?


I like this one.


From fatwa-survivor Salman Rushdie:

Religion, a mediaeval form of unreason, when combined with modern weaponry becomes a real threat to our freedoms. This religious totalitarianism has caused a deadly mutation in the heart of Islam and we see the tragic consequences in Paris today. I stand with Charlie Hebdo, as we all must, to defend the art of satire, which has always been a force for liberty and against tyranny, dishonesty and stupidity. ‘Respect for religion’ has become a code phrase meaning ‘fear of religion.’ Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect.

Among the dead are editor Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb. After the offices were fire-bombed in 2012, he said, “I prefer to die standing up than to live on my knees.”

Teaching about 9/11

Teachers are trying to explain 9/11 to students who don’t remember it very well — or at all. A variety of lesson ideas and resources are available, but most teachers are on their own, reports AP.

New York City’s updated Sept. 11 curriculum “includes tips on how to help students cope with learning about the horrors of that day, a study of the art inspired by the terrorist attacks and a history of the building of the 9/11 memorial.”

The Sept. 11 Education Trust also has come out with lesson plans. It was founded by Anthony Gardner, whose 30-year-old brother, died in the World Trade Center.

New Jersey has adopted, but not required, a curriculum developed by families of 9/11 victims, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

(Maryellen) Salamone said the loss of her husband “inspired me and I inspired the curriculum, and maybe the curriculum will inspire hundreds and thousands of kids. Then, one death will make a huge difference and I can sleep better at night.”

John Salamone, 37, died in the World Trade Center, leaving his wife and three young children.

“Learning From the Challenges of Our Times: Global Security, Terrorism, and 9/11 in the Classroom” is a free online K-12 curriculum.

Derrick Owings, a Cherry Hill High School West teacher will teach the 9/11 course to his ninth-grade world civilization classes and 11th- and 12th-grade psychology classes.

“We’ll look at the psychology of terrorism,” he said. “What makes a seemingly rational, mentally healthy human being into a terrorist?

“And from a world civilization side,” he said, “we’ll look at the history of human behavior through conflict and turmoil. One man’s terrorist is another man’s patriot.”

Fordham’s Teaching about 9/11 in 2011 highlights “the danger of slighting history and patriotism in the rush to teach children about tolerance and multiculturalism.”

“What one wants to know, however, is whether the rest of the curriculum is there, too: the civics part, the history part, the harsher lessons about how difficult it is to safeguard American values from those who despise them in an increasingly menacing world,” Chester E. Finn Jr. writes in the introduction.

Some teaching materials are excellent, Finn believes, citing the National September 11 Memorial & Museum’s lessons for high school students, which are used in New York City.  “Others, alas, are wimpy, biased, or apologetic and may well do teachers and pupils more harm than good.” Exhibit A: The U.S. Education Departent’s 9/11 Materials for Teachers.

The Education Department’s resource list doesn’t lead off with history, writes Valerie Strauss on Answer Sheet.

The first item is this: “Positive School Climate and 911 — Resources for helping create and maintain a positive school climate and preventing bullying, harassment, and discrimination.

Answer Sheet lists other teaching resources from the National History Education Clearinghouse’s In Remembrance: Teaching September 11.

Smithsonian Institute K-12 lessons

9-11 Commission records on how and why Sept. 11 happened

School Library Journal lessons

National Geographic Remembering 9-11