The outrage du jour is news from a small Texas town of shenanigans going on in the local high school: students dressing up in burkas, calling the 9/11 terrorists “freedom fighters”, and the Tea Party patriots (of 1773 — not the new guys) terrorists.
I saw the story posted on facebook by several of my homeschooling friends with variations on the theme, “And this is why we homeschool.” I completely agree with them, but I think many people are missing the big picture.
The rationale behind these type of lessons is to teach “understanding.” I agree: it is important to understand why people do what they do. It would be foolish not to examine the belief of those with whom we are at war. It would be ignorant to teach about the American Revolution without explaining why the British did what they did. We ought to want to understand things thoroughly.
In fact, my own child in writing her American Revolutionary History narration from the point of view of a British girl in America writing letters to her mother in England. She was inspired by the character Sarah Phillips in the series Liberty’s Kids. (Excellent resource for American Revolution. Sylvester Stallone voices Paul Revere!) Of course, in the series (and most likely with my kid), Sarah changes from staunch Tory to proud Patriot. She becomes convinced that the American position is right, as I’m sure will my Sprite’s little Tory.
And there’s the rub. I can teach my children that the terrorists call themselves Freedom Fighters, we can study the arguments for slavery, we can even read Mein Kampf if we want to. And then we make value judgements.
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Another example is our American Revolution versus the French Revolution. Why did ours bring about a peaceful nation and theirs end in a bloody nightmare? Well, we had the Great Awakening and they had the Enlightenment. The foundations of our revolutionary philosophies were fundamentally different. “Unless the Lord builds a house, they labor in vain.” Teach that in your public schools.
The problem with the high school’s lessons isn’t that they said, “The men who brought down the Twin Towers and crashed into the Pentagon are known as freedom fighters and martyrs to some people.” The problem is that they don’t make value judgements. They don’t say, “But men who would kill thousands — and attempt to kill tens of thousands — of innocent men and women don’t fight for freedom. They seek to stir up fear and hatred, they seek to start violence, not end it. They are terrorists.”
My blog motto is a quote by C.S. Lewis, “You cannot go on ‘explaining away’ for ever: you will find that you have explained explanation itself away. You cannot go on ‘seeing through’ things for ever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it.”
Teaching that terrorists are freedom fighters is merely a symptom of a house built on sand. A valueless, “amoral” educational system is attempting to see through things forever; there is no firm foundation on which to stand. And that is the real outrage.