Are 9-11 Remembrance Festivals really latent Islamophobia picnics?
Those that serve only to indoctrinate – yes.
You’ve got your 9-11 ceremonies and your 9-11 family fun runs, silent auctions, parades, Karaoke, walkathons, crafts for the kids, food, refreshments, and for some groups, even mock CSI investigations with clues, evidence, and presumably “perps.” (I wonder what they look like at a 9-11 festival.)
You can be outraged at my questioning this stuff, but you can’t be offended by my asking why these events rarely include educational opportunities to broaden our understanding of cultures other than our own. Yes-yes, I understand it was Western culture that took a hit that morning, but number one, ours wasn’t the only culture to be irreversibly affected, and number two, not every follower of Islam is hiding Boeing 747 wiring diagrams. So what’s the excuse? Where’s the booth that explains to young people what the Koran is, and who reads it?
Of Connecticut’s Wethersfield 9-11 memorial picnic, a Richard M. Keane Foundation spokesperson told a local paper, “It’s a nice family evening, and a time to remember in a positive way. It’s a looking-for-the-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel kind of theme. I think it’s a great way for people to share the day and remember, but also enjoy their families.”
Absolutely. And familiar sentiments all –– the physical and emotional scars of 9-11 are indeed part of America’s social fabric. I’m just asking why it has to be limited to only those. Why can’t it also be used as a teaching tool (and an ounce of prevention)? Limiting these festivals to only “our side” and our understanding is dangerously restrictive in terms of dealing with those suspicious or distrustful of our way of life. Even from a tactical military standpoint, a soldier would question why we’re dismissing “the other guy.” Must hearts and minds always be won after America has put itself above those with whom it seeks to gain favor?
Part of understanding what happened that day is learning where the men who committed those atrocities came from and identifying the conditions that lead to new threats. But how many of the people attending these events, particularly young people, could find Syria, Yemen, or the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan on a map if one was laid out before them?
You could argue that a celebration of 9-11 heroes and victims is no place for acknowledging the enemy, which is fine, but acknowledging the enemy isn’t my issue. I’m talking about explaining to a 9-year-old girl that she has a counterpart 6,000 miles away who isn’t permitted to attend school, and that the men responsible are more likely to fit the definition of an “enemy” than she is. How else are American kids going to learn to differentiate between the two?
Oh, that’s right, Islamic awareness is your kid’s teacher’s job, right?
Chalk up another excuse not to try: It’s the school’s responsibility to ensure that my adorable child doesn’t start throwing the word ‘towelhead’ around, not mine.
Personally, I think there should be booths to explain our vets’ PTSD and traumatic brain injuries to appropriately oriented juveniles, and others to reinforce certain facts about 9-11, such as the number of civilians who ran back into those buildings to help pull people out. How ’bout Q&A sessions for parents and children to ask questions of vets, 9-11 survivors, clergy, and academics? Or is that not “light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel” enough?
And lastly, between the silent auctions, the 5K jogs, the fried foods, folding chairs, and red, white ‘n blue, are we so righteously unbending and sword-like on the eve of bombing yet another Islamic country that we can’t make room for wider recognition and a larger general message in our 9-11 remembrances and commemorations?
Is the excuse because we’re American?
Is the excuse because we said so?
Of course it isn’t, ’cause there is no excuse.
“One’s opinion should only be as strong as one’s knowledge on the matter.”
― Eric Hirzel