“Death to America! Death to America!” shouted a million Iranians in the capital square. Every year they would gather to chant, and every year I would show film clips to my students. It was always instigated by Iran’s government in a country that calls itself “The Islamic Republic of Iran,” which, I’m sure, President Obama would insist has nothing to do with Islam as he negotiates with the ayatollahs.
My teaching ran directly counter to what was being taught in the vast majority of American public school classrooms. Most American students hear that Islam is a religion of peace. A majority of the world’s muslims are peaceful, most teachers claim. About the latter, they are correct. About the former? Fourteen hundred years of history gives lie to any assertion that Islam is a religion of peace. Yes, it was relatively peaceful between the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in 1918 to the Iranian revolution in 1979, but in virtually every other period since about 600 AD, Islam has been anything but.
But I was an anachronism. Those calling themselves Progressives have been in charge of education in America at all levels for almost two generations and the results are coming in. During the span of just two days I read about the following:
Students at the University of California at Irvine voted to ban the American flag in a portion of campus because they want to be “inclusive.” I figured: Oh well, that’s California — the left coast — the land of fruits and nuts — run yet again by Jerry “Governor Moonbeam” Brown. No big deal. Par for the course.
Then Meredith Shiner, a reporter at Yahoo News, commented on Senator Ted Cruz’s announcement that he was running for president, by tweeting: “Bizarre [for you, Senator Cruz] to talk about how rights are God-made and not man-made in your speech announcing a POTUS bid? When Constitution was man-made?”
Hmm. Shiner graduated from Duke University, worked at Roll Call and Politico before Yahoo News, yet she’s a progressive who clearly doesn’t know much. She doesn’t know, for instance, that the concept of God-given rights isn’t in our Constitution. It comes from our Declaration of Independence, which was written shortly after the “shot heard ’round the world” was fired in Lexington, Massachusetts. But things have changed even there. After students at Lexington High School voted a theme of“American Pride” for a school dance, their progressive school administrators cancelled it because it excluded other nationalities. “People consider America to be a melting pot, so the fact that it was even considered offensive is what people are a little surprised about,” said student Sneha Rao. I’m not surprised. That’s progressive education in action.
This was a little closer to home. I grew up less than twenty miles from Lexington. Yes, I know it’s in Massachusetts, sometimes referred to as “The People’s Republic of Massachusetts” and it’s a famously progressive state like California, but still. American pride is offensive? In America? What have we become?
Even closer to home, I read that a lacrosse coach at Fryeburg Academy was encouraged to resign because he posted a letter on his Facebook page. This guy coached some of my former students. The Conway Daily Sun reported: “The letter, written by ‘An American Citizen’ was about Obama’s speech given in Cairo in 2009 [in which he] said that Islam has long been a part of American history.” The letter goes on to criticize Islam, saying Muslims are still the largest traffickers in human slavery, which the US State Department reported in 2009. It claims Muslims were allied with Hitler in World War II, which they certainly were. Hitler’s Mein Kampf remains a best seller in Turkey and across the Middle East. In Arabic, it’s called “My Jihad.” My former students know all this.
The Sun reported that although Coach Lees was to meet with top administrators about the letter, “athletic director Sue Thurston told him a decision to fire him had already been made,” so he resigned. Unless there was something more damning in “the letter” than the Sun reported, it looks like Fryeburg Academy officials should bone up on the history of Islam.