Chris Powell: Bristol students denied crucial life lesson

Published on Thursday, 23 November 2017 19:59
Written by Chris Powell


Last week’s hostility in Bristol to a middle school teacher’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 Allen’s movie “Love and Death.”

Child: What’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 woman’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 Bristol’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 woman’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.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Thursday, 23 November 2017 19:59. Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2017 20:01.