Last weekâ€™s hostility in Bristol to a middle school teacherâ€™s plan to have a Muslim woman visit a world history class to discuss her religion and experiences evoked the bigoted ignorance satirized in Woody Allenâ€™s movie â€śLove and Death.â€ť
Child: Whatâ€™s a Jew?
Russian Orthodox priest: You never saw a Jew? Here - I have some sketches. There are Jews.
Child: No kidding? They all have these horns?
Priest: No, this is the Russian Jew. The German Jew has these stripes.
The school superintendent canceled the Muslim womanâ€™s visit out of concern about security, since some of the hostility was threatening. Now there is talk about calling a town-wide assembly on religious diversity. But as some Islamic leaders protested, the cancellation rewarded the threats. Surely Bristolâ€™s police could have stood by during the presentation - and the need for security would have been a good lesson in itself.
Some people in Bristol said the public schools are not the proper place for religion. But religion is a huge part of history, and no one was to have been indoctrinated by the Muslim womanâ€™s presentation. For many students, her visit might have been the first time they saw a Muslim in person rather than one on television being described as a terrorist. That too would have been a good lesson.
Yes, people are committing terrorism in the name of Islam, just as people have committed terrorism in the name of most other religions. Kids need to be shown the difference between the good guys and the bad guys.
Unfortunately many adults need to be shown too.
Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.