During my high school senior year, my History instructor, Mr. S, would expand his lesson plans, each Friday, to include history in the making. He didn’t merely lecture us about current events… he actually inspired the entire class to participate in lively discussions.
One Friday, the situation got a whole lot livelier than expected.
While discussing our State Board of Education’s plan to utilize cross-district busing to racially integrate Michigan’s public schools, Mr. S asked if any of us could think of better alternatives, which would achieve the same, beneficial results.
I raised my hand and said…
“We’d never need to bus anyone if we could racially integrate our neighborhoods.”
In a split second, one of my classmates, “Greg”, in a near apoplectic fit, leaped out of his chair to bellow at the top of his lungs, “NO!”
Only gravity had prevented him from hitting the ceiling. Only the vacuum outside Earth’s atmosphere prevented the shock-waves of his shouted objection from reverberating throughout our entire limitless universe. Only the racist crap between his ears hindered his comprehension of my logical alternative.
Mr. S had to spend several minutes trying to talk that kid down… repeatedly reminding him we were only having a discussion.
To this very day, Greg’s “NO” still haunts and saddens me. In all likelihood, he had been served up countless heaping helpings of bigotry right at his own family’s dining room table… perhaps immediately after they had (hypocritically) said grace.
While my idea, that long ago Friday, had (still has) merit, regrettably, it only was a discussion. Unfortunately… two score and five years later… too many people within America and all over our world still have bad attitude problems to overcome before they can finally, fully embrace our ethnic and religious diversity and, ultimately, do their part to unite humanity.
Case in point… I recently read about a Tennessee mother, Michelle Edmisten, who is outraged about Social Studies lessons being taught in the public school, which her seventh grade daughter attends… lessons which discuss the religions of our world… inclusive of Islam.
This mother is worried that her girl’s “personal religious beliefs were violated”… so much so that she flat-out refused to let her daughter attend these classes and preferred to see her report card filled in with zeroes. Said Edmisten…
“Those are zeroes that we proudly took and we will not compromise. It is time as parents, teachers and administrators we stand up and take back our families, our schools and our country.”
Normally I’d demand we maintain our U.S. Constitution’s stipulated separation of church and state, but it’s not like Tennessee teachers have morphed into preachers. These educators are NOT proselytizing… they’re merely raising awareness about religious diversity in America and our world. How could any of that be harmful?
The National Council for the Social Studies weighed in thusly…
Knowledge about religions is not only a characteristic of an educated person but is necessary for effective and engaged citizenship in a diverse nation and world. Religious literacy dispels stereotypes, promotes cross-cultural understanding and encourages respect for the rights of others to religious liberty.”
To that I say, “AMEN!”
To survive in a post 9/11 world… all of us… inclusive of today’s kids (who are tomorrow’s leaders)… MUST be informed… MUST learn how to peacefully coexist… MUST learn that there’s no need to fear Islam in its pure form… MUST learn that the only actual danger associated with Islam involves al Qaeda and ISIS entities, who’ve hijacked and mutilated their faith to “rationalize” their deadly terrorist attacks.
Edmisten fails to realize that her crusade to ban her daughter’s textbook is tantamount to denying her own daughter and her classmates the well rounded education they deserve. Ironically, this needlessly concerned mom has put herself in the same league as the very Taliban fanatics she fears.
Indeed, both Edmisten and the Taliban’s crusade is all about maintaining ignorance.
While Muslim hater Donald Trump and his likeminded devotees would say “YES” to Michelle Edmisten’s Islamophobia and book banning plot, clearheaded people must counter any and all attempts to dumb down our society. In this particular case, it is not wrong to yell out, “NO!”