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Jewish World Review August 21, 2002 / 13 Elul, 5762

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NEA exploits 9/11 as propaganda tool


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | The National Education Association is trying to use its influence to help "educate" public school children about the events of Sept. 11, 2001. If you think this is a noble endeavor, perhaps you should continue reading.

Let's put aside for a moment any objections some of us have to a national organization significantly influencing the activities and academics of public schools, and focus on some of the messages the NEA is trying to impart.

The NEA has launched a Web site, "Remember September 11th," that includes over 100 lesson plans, resources and links that teachers can use to help school children "learn, cope and heal."

According to the Washington Times, the NEA cautions teachers not to "suggest any group is responsible for the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people. And one of the lesson plans "takes a decidedly blame-America approach, urging educators to 'discuss historical instances of American intolerance,' so that the American public avoids 'repeating terrible mistakes.'"

I decided to visit the NEA site and check it out myself. In one guide to help teachers and parents talk to children, we find: "We are all responsible for dealing with feelings of anger without harming others. If we want to oppose what the perpetrators did, one way to respond is to take steps to resolve conflicts peaceably rather than engage in acts of retaliation."

Then I clicked on a number of links that purported to offer guidance on such questions as "Why do so many people around the world hate America" and invariably was taken to "Moving Ideas," an online magazine of the Policy Action Network, a "project of The American Prospect Magazine."

The American Prospect is referred to by www.turnleft.com, the self-described "home of liberalism on the Web," as "A magazine on American politics and society with emphasis on public policy from a liberal perspective." "Moving Ideas" boasts of being the online magazine that "posts the best ideas and resources from leading progressive research and advocacy institutions."

"Progressive," if you don't already know, is a euphemism for "liberal," and whose closest antonym is probably "reactionary." You get the drift. The NEA is referring its loyal teacher members to a very liberal magazine for enlightenment.

Let me give you a sample, fellow parents and others, of the type of rubbish I found there. One was "The Abuses of 9/11" by Stewart Nusbaumer, which begins: "It was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who deserted decency first. Who were the first to exploit the memory of 9/11 and abuse the ongoing war on terrorism. The first to exaggerate the security threats and distort the Administration's accomplishments. What Republicans have refused to do is give the American people what they desperately need. The straight truth." In fairness, I'll admit that Nusbaumer trashes Democrats to some extent as well, but to a much lesser extent.

Another linked article, "Why the World Loves to Hate America," argues that "some anti-U.S. sentiment could be countered by a more consistent U.S. foreign policy."

Next, I read a New York Times article referred to in the Frequently Asked Questions section of the NEA's site under the question: "How can schools be most effective in teaching tolerance and preventing prejudice from forming in light of the ongoing news coverage and images?" In the piece, Richard Rothstein contends there is "a big need for materials that help explain terrorists' motivations." Give me a break.

Another link led to an article at Rethinkingschools.org, which tells us: "We need to be multicultural and anti-racist ... The only way we can make sense of this moment in history is through a multicultural lens ... Crisis will always be used to further agendas of racial privilege. In multiple ways this is a dangerous time: immigrants are made to feel more fearful; as military budgets swell, programs that could ameliorate racial inequality suffer; the 'war against terrorism' emboldens defenders of the status quo who have new tools to stifle racial justice activism."

It goes on and on. Even if you left-wingers can't relate to conservatives' objections to federalizing education on constitutional grounds and to preserve local autonomy, can't you admit that you would be horrified if the NEA's shoe were on the other (the right) foot?

How would you feel if the national union representing teachers operated as a propaganda factory for the right wing? How would you like it, if the NEA, for example, devoted major resources and efforts to condemning abortion?

Or is indoctrination only offensive when the other side is doing the indoctrinating?

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David Limbaugh, a columnist and attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Mo., is the author of the just-released exposť about corruption in the Clinton-Reno Justice Department, "Absolute Power." Send your comments to him by clicking here.

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