Tom Friedman comments on the NEA's Sept. 11 lesson plan:
This is a moment for moral clarity, and here are the three lessons I would teachHe performs brilliantly in parts, but based on his total score and on a straight scale I have to give him a C-.
Who are they? This lesson would emphasize that while most people in the world are good and decent, there are evil people out there who are not poor, not abused — but envious. These extremists have been raised in societies that have failed to prepare them for modernity, and the most evil among them chose on Sept. 11 to lash out at the symbol of modernity — America
Assigned reading: Larry Miller's Jan. 14, 2002, essay in The Weekly Standard: "Listen carefully: We're good, they're evil, nothing is relative...The plain fact is that our country has, with all our mistakes and blunders, always been and always will be the greatest beacon of freedom, charity, opportunity, and affection in history.
Friedman's grade for Lesson #1: 10/10.
Who are we? We Americans are not better than any other people, but the Western democratic system we live by is the best system on earth. Unfortunately, in the Arab-Muslim world, there is no democracy, too few women's rights and too little religious tolerance....Friedman's grade for Lesson #2: 10/10.
Assigned reading: "An Autumn of War," by the military historian Victor Davis Hanson
So far so good. But Friedman loses it on Lesson #3:
Why do so many foreigners reject the evil perpetrators of 9/11 but still dislike America? It's because, while we have the best system of governance, we are not always at our best in how we act toward the world. [a] Because we want to drive big cars, we support repressive Arab dictators so they will sell us cheap oil. [b] Because our presidents want to get votes, they readily tell the Palestinians how foolishly they are behaving, but they hesitate to tell Israelis how destructive their West Bank settlements are for the future of the Jewish state. [c] Because we want to consume as much energy as we please, we tell the world's people they have to be with us in the war on terrorism but we don't have to be with them in the struggle against global warming and for a greener planet.
The point, class, is that while evil people hate us for who we are, many good people dislike us for what we do. And if we want to win their respect we need to be the best, most consistent and most principled global citizens we can be.
Assigned readings: The U.S. Constitution, Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points speech and the Declaration of Independence.
And as far as Wilson's Fourteen Points go, I'm not sure how much of this post-WWI peace proposal is relevant to today's world, but Point 7 would seem to be the most appealing on its face ("Belgium, the whole world will agree, must be evacuated and restored..."), until you recall that it's not talking about evacuating the EU from Brussels.
Total score: 21.5/30 = 71.7%, or a C-Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at September 09, 2002 07:15 AM