- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 22, 2002

Listen up, class. Today's topic is September 11, a day that baffles the mushy-headed thinkers of the National Education Association.
They are still not sure who perpetrated the horror. Was it them? Was it us? Was it a natural response to America's foreign policy? The NEA thinkers have studied these perplexing questions long and hard, along with the faces of the hijackers and the terror network that sponsored them. Who are these jihad warriors? What do they want? What is their motivation?
It beats the best minds of the NEA. They do not know. They cannot say, with absolute certainty, what is what, or even if up is up and down is down. After 11-plus months, the NEA is stumped, at a loss. The evidence remains incomplete, the true purpose of the attack not clear, and who did what is undecided.
America lurches forward anyway. The Pentagon has been restored to its previous functionality, the rubble in lower Manhattan removed, and the dead who ended up in a field in Pennsylvania feted as genuine heroes. The one-year anniversary is coming up, while the moral clarity once so clear is losing its power.
You can tell by the back-to-school nuttiness emanating from the NEA, the nation's largest teachers union. It is not nice to assign blame in the NEA lesson plan unless the target is a dead white male who wore a bad wig around the time the nation was born.
The "kill-all-Americans" tenet apparently leaves more rhetorical wiggle room than originally assumed. Its simplicity is subject to the interpretation of the high-minded. The NEA might as well ask: "Why do they hate us so?" The post-September 11 cliche is a close relative of the NEA's thought process.
The NEA makes no mention of the 72 virgins awaiting each of the suicide killers in the afterlife, which is one element of the jihad certain to provoke interest in young minds. The number is exhausting, if only the NEA would bother to consider it.
The NEA merely considers the squishy sentiments of the times, as only those bound in a classroom can. The real world is messier than the feel-good expressions put to a chalkboard.
In the sanitized world of the NEA, Osama bin Laden probably merits a smiley face next to his mug, perhaps because his evilness taps into the anti-Western flavor of academia. They don't really mean it. It just sounds so morally superior. America, as always, is hardly perfect. It just beats all the other alternatives.
Americans love a good conspiracy theory, starting with Oliver Stone, who has elevated the art to parody form.
The NEA's abstractness is an insult to the scars so deep and fresh, and so apparent in the preventive goings-on around Washington.
The NEA can't even help feeling guilty, somehow linking the internment of Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor to September 11. You have to be an intellectual to understand what the institutional mistakes of the past have to do with those who employ a passenger jet as a missile.
At least the NEA left the one-armed man out of its September 11 lesson plan. Blaming the one-armed man undoubtedly would have offended the National One-Armed Men Association.
The back-to-school specials featured at department stores each August have come to be a warning of the nonsense ahead. Which school district will be the first to suspend a student for packing a fully loaded nail file? Montgomery County, anyone?
The NEA usually limits its historical kookiness to Columbus and other overrated explorers. This one is for the books, however. This is September 11, not some date from a bygone era.
As the NEA puts it, "Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault."
Well, yes. Hello?
The blame, in this case, is not a terribly difficult exercise.
The blame goes to the boastful fruitcake on videotape. Bin Laden's only objection might be with the word "blame." He takes "credit" for the attack, as part of his war on America, the NEA included.
There, class, that wasn't too hard.


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