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« All Is Forgiven | Main | I Couldn't Care More »

PC Run Amok

The usual idiots at the National Educational Association (aka the teacher's union) say that we shouldn't blame anybody for what happened last September 11. It was, you know, like an accident, or some kind of natural occurrence. No harm, no foul.

What's worse, they recommend that this nonsense be included in teaching guides.

Here is an excerpt that contains one of the many myths of modern society, and one of my pet peeves.

"Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise."

Yeah, it's really tough to teach this "don't blame anybody" silliness when someone is obviously at fault. What to do, what to do...?

[scratching head, a noggin filled with various useless molding detritus from some school of education, slightly verdant, musty dust poofing out of the ears with each finger tap...)

Oh, that's right. Here's the answer. In America, no one is guilty until proven guilty, in a court of law. We haven't had a trial yet, so we should consider bin Laden and his buds innocent until we have.

Right. And we should consider OJ innocent because twelve men (and women) noble and true (and extremely confused, and bigoted, and utterly innocent of logic, science and the law) couldn't find it in their hearts to call him guilty.

Repeat after me, everybody.

Innocent until proven guilty applies only in a court of law. It only means that he can't be deprived of liberty or life by the state for the crime. It does not mean that we are not entitled to have an informed opinion about the matter.

And it's not meant to apply to the court of public opinion. And certainly not to our public education system, particularly when teaching history (which last fall's events have become). By their standards, Hitler would be innocent of gassing Jews, since no trial was held.

This sort of mealy-mouthed mush, in which no one is ever responsible for anything, and forgiveness should be granted by everyone (even by those against whom no trespass has occurred) to everyone (even those who don't admit that they've done anything wrong, or express regret for it), is making us into a nation of milquetoast moral midgets, unable to pass judgement on anything or anybody.

Except, of course, those evil people who would have the temerity to judge anyone else's behavior.


Oh, but wait! What a relief. Phew.

In the very next paragraph, it turns out that they didn't really mean it. It is someone's fault.

But another of the suggested NEA lesson plans ? compiled together under the title "Remember September 11" and appearing on the teachers union health information network Web site ? takes a decidedly blame- America approach, urging educators to "discuss historical instances of American intolerance," so that the American public avoids "repeating terrible mistakes."

"Internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Arab Americans during the Gulf War are obvious examples," the plan says. "Teachers can do lessons in class, but parents can also discuss the consequences of these events and encourage their children to suggest better choices that Americans can make this time."

That's right, children. It's our fault. If we only hadn't been so mean to those terrorists, and put those Japanese people into camps during World War II, they wouldn't have had to destroy our skyscrapers, and kill all those people. We made them do it.

This is an argument fit for a playground, but it's being taught as serious curriculum by supposed adults. I think it's past time for a time out for the NEA.

A permanent one.

[via Charles Johnson]

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 19, 2002 09:21 AM
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1. If I were a teacher, I'd quit the union for preaching such drivel.

2. As to those teachers who actually teach such unmitigated bushwah, do we really want them indoctrinating our kids?

Posted by PaulJurkoic at August 19, 2002 12:39 PM

This kind of thing frightens me much more than any wild-eyed terrorist. At least I can shoot him.

Posted by Dave G at August 19, 2002 07:34 PM

My mother taught in the local public school district for a number of years, finally retiring about 10 years ago. She tells me the ONLY reason she (and many of the other teachers) were in the NEA was for the protection the members got from the whims of the administration. Early in her career, she saw a co-worker fired for insubordination who wasnt a member, and who would have had to hire a lawyer to fight his termination. My mother taught a LD program, which was used as a dumping ground for any and all problem students, so she was always butting heads with admin at the school. While she dis-agreed with nearly everything the NEA stood for, she didnt feel she could do her job, without some sort of protection. I think, if she was 25 years old and just starting out, knowing what she knows now, she would never go back into the public school system.

Posted by buzz at August 19, 2002 07:48 PM

I watched it real time and people I consider friends were in the buildings... call me judgemental...

Nobody is innocent, and I include myself. While responsibilities lie within us all, it's not too hard to identify that the guy flying the plane has responsibity for flying the plane (and any result of his actions.)

Those murderers and the one's pulling their strings are all, completely and undeniably responsible.

I'll face my responsibilities as I do every day... so shall they.

As you say, innocent until proven belongs in a court of law... not as a principle of rational thought. Even innocent until proven is a sliding scale when being given consideration by a jury...

Posted by ken anthony at August 20, 2002 08:18 AM

NEA 'Not to Blame' for American Intolerance

A new curriculum plan promoted by the National Education Association (NEA), cautions teachers against blaming the NEA for American intolerance.
Read more at...

Posted by Scott Ott at August 20, 2002 07:11 PM

I notice that you don't have a link to the actual NEA document itself, only to article about it in the Washington Times (not exactly an unbiased source, nor a reliable one).

Where exactly does it say in the teaching guide that teachers should tell children that the United States is to blame for the terrorist attacks of September 11? Can somebody please show me an exact quote using more or less those words?

It seems to me all that they're saying is that we shouldn't fly off the handle and start throwing people in the slammer for no good reason. Does anybody here have a problem with that? I don't.

Posted by R. Mutt at August 21, 2002 11:10 AM

You don't need to use the exact words to convey the message.

Posted by Rand Simberg at August 21, 2002 12:20 PM

Mr. Simberg:

Well, they certainly seem to have done a good job conveying the message to YOU -- or rather a few out-of-context quotes in the Washington Times have done a good job. But maybe you were looking for the message already.

If you can't produce an exact quote from the curriculum, or even one that can reasonably be paraphrased as blaming America (something like "discuss how American foreign policy may have contributed to the attacks"), then you are engaging in mind-reading, and that is a fool's errand.

Posted by R. Mutt at August 21, 2002 01:27 PM

R. Mutt -
*sigh* Perhaps, if you'd read the article in the Washington Times, you would have noticed that they list where these lesson plans are available on the NEA's website. People that can read, and click a link with their mouse, are capable of doing further reading of their own, without having Rand hold their hand every link of the way.

And considering the second quote Rand includes in the post states exactly what you claim to be looking for as acceptable proof of NEA anti-americanism, perhaps you could bother reading Rand's entire post, as well.

Posted by Celeste at August 23, 2002 10:41 AM


I assume you're referring to the quote that says "discuss historical instances of American intolerance" such as the "internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor", right? How does that translate into "America is to blame for the terrorist attacks" (or as Stimberg says, "we made them do it")? As I said in my earlier post, to me it reads as a caution against scapegoating innocent people. But I could be wrong. Perhaps there's some kind of hidden message in there that only paranoid reactionaries can pick up.

All kidding aside, though, why shouldn't students be taught to think critically about their country? Why is it somehow unpatriotic to talk about the less-than-savory aspects of our history? You know, so we don't keep making the same mistakes over and over again...

Posted by R. Mutt at August 23, 2002 02:30 PM

An addendum to my last post:

Note also that the Times quote reads "parents" (not "teachers") can "discuss the consequences of these events". In other words, the NEA isn't encouraging teachers to draw ANY conclusions about what might or might not have resulted from the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII or the harrassment of Arab-Americans during the Gulf War, much less the specific conclusion that these actions led to the September 11 attacks. Simberg is the one who's drawing that conclusion.

And no, there is no link to the actual lesson plans, because the web site isn't even accessible yet, and won't be until next week.

Posted by R. Mutt at August 24, 2002 12:25 PM

R. Mutt -
My objection is not over teaching students to think critically about their country; there are plenty of instances of horrible U.S. policy that I believe students should know about in an attempt to keep us from repeating the mistakes of the past. I object, however, when the U.S. is painted as a villain when it isn't; as the "backlash against Arab Americans during the gulf war are obvious examples" does.

On the one year anniversary of an event like this, helping children understand why were attacked by painting lurid pictures of past american intolerance, is only engaging in blaming the victim. WWII camps are the equivalent of the little red dress we shouldn't have worn... islamist terrorists give a damn about japanese americans. If this is about racism, its about muslim hatred for non-muslims, not american intolerance.

Posted by Celeste at August 24, 2002 03:12 PM

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