Teenagers in Tennessee will be among the first in the United States to use new textbooks that discuss the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Schools in Tennessee are replacing their social studies materials this fall. So high school and middle school students in the state will be using revised textbooks discussing the attacks on America as well as the military action that occurred afterward.
The books discuss Osama bin Laden, the terrorist group Al-Qaida and the country of Afghanistan. One particular textbook includes a mini-biography of former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
The books also mention the anthrax attack on American mail, describe the nationwide rush to donate money and blood, discuss the rise in military enlistment and quotes from President Bush’s “We will not falter” speech.
Textbooks from all four major U.S. textbook publishers have featured the famous photograph of New York firefighters raising the American flag above the remains of the World Trade Center.
It’s all very patriotic and possibly well-intended. There’s just one problem. No one really knows a whole lot about the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. There’s nothing concrete that will allow for an unbiased, accurate description of the attacks. It’s easy to pin all the blame on anyone from Bin Laden to Muslims to the old lady down the street, but the truth is that there is not enough information to place the attacks in history books for children to read.
Will the soldiers that died by friendly fire be discussed? How about Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter still missing after his kidnapping by Al-Qaida soldiers? Will the fact that President Bush still has not found bin Laden be a footnote after his already-famous speech?
This is how ignorant opinions are formed. Take an event, put a slant on it and provide only half the information. Only this time, the fault will indeed lie with the educators, and all in the name of patriotism.
J. Danielle Daniels for the Editorial Board