Closing a School District Over Islamic Homework Is Absurd

Today an entire Virginia school district was shut down because of a homework assignment to copy an Arabic, Islamic phrase for calligraphy practice. Seriously? Is this really what we want to teach our kids?

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A world geography teacher giving high school kids a homework assignment to try to copy a passage in Arabic about the Muslim faith isn't "indoctrination" like many hysterical parents have claimed; it's what we used to call here in America an education.

Let's just back up for a second and review a few facts.

Islam isn't a terrorist organization. It's the second-most practiced religion in the world by more than 1.6 billion people -- more than a quarter of the world's population. To pretend that Islam itself is somehow dangerous and something our children need to be protected from learning about is both willfully ignorant and dangerous.

Terrorists, both domestic and foreign, come from all sorts of religions and backgrounds, from the suburban upper-middle-class perpetrator of the Sandy Hook massacre to the lunatic that shot up a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic last month. 

That's not to say there isn't a real threat from Muslim extremists. There is, and it's a fear that was only intensified by the San Bernardino shootings, which appear to have been inspired by various Muslim terrorist groups.

But exposing our kids -- high school kids, mind you -- to the tenants of all sorts of religions not only seems like the foundation for a basic humanities education, but also a smart way for our future leaders to start to process why people wage violence in the name of religion in the first place. Keeping kids in the dark doesn't make them safer; it only makes them more ignorant about the world -- the precise opposite reaction they'll need as adults who are likely to face continued terrorist threats.

More from The Stir: Middle School Class That Makes Students Write 'Allah Is the Only God' Has Parents Concerned (VIDEO)

Across the country, as mass killings become increasingly commonplace, fear is starting to choke off our more reasonable impulses. And it's understandable that parents who fear for their children's safety can be among the most reactionary when they worry their children's well-being is threatened. It's what we do.

But we just can't let our fear give way to blind hate and ignorance. We can't let a few thugs with many screws loose turn us against each other -- against geography teachers, and neighbors, and members of an entire global religion rooted in ancient tradition.

And most importantly, let's not turn our children into adults who are afraid of learning everything they can about our world and all the different kinds of people who inhabit it. Because we're the losers when we allow fear and anger to prevail over love and reason.

 

 

Image via NBC 29

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