Last night, I appeared on the Dr. Drew Show on CNN Headline News (VIDEO) debating with the publisher of a 9-11 coloring book, which purports to tell the truth about 9-11 to educate children about that national tragedy. I’ll touch on a couple of specific non-factual aspects of this so-called educational coloring book at the end.
The publisher of the coloring book misstated last night that the book does not say anything negative about Muslims and only portrays Osama bin Laden, who he called “a devil worshipper” and the nineteen hijackers. In fact except in the very beginning of the book in which a caricature reporter states that Americans will not look at Muslims and Islam the same again, every mention of Muslims thereafter has in front the terms “radical,” “extremist” and “terrorist.” Also besides depicting of Bin Laden and his wife who was wearing niqab, the other depictions of Muslims consist of two ominous looking men with their heads and faces covered with kuffiyahs, a common terrorist motif in the West.
Simply put the average seven year old or ten year old child does not have the cognitive skills to discern from this coloring book that Muslims in general are not scary, dangerous people. And although the publisher states that this coloring book is “Rated PG” and should be explained by their parents, that is also not reassuring given that half of adult Americans according to Gallup Poll know very little about Islam and that many who claim that they know have absorbed misconceptions. In fact, it is more probable to state that many parents will reinforce the negative broad-brushing of Muslims as it relates to the coloring book.
It is known now that after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese people were also depicted with a broad brush in children’s books such as Dr. Seuss.
Many children were negatively affected by these racist depictions that painted all Japanese persons as sneaky or dangerous, which is a separate issue from the immoral internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.
9-11 was this generation’s Pearl Harbor, and the publisher of this book should understand the implications of the depictions and wording of the coloring book. Based upon his comments last night and even the guest host (Chris Jacobs) of the Dr. Drew Show, I don’t think that either one of them gets it or wanted to get it. This is true, however, for most persons in the status quo of any society, who are not consistently under societal pressure from being minorities. They aren’t conscious of the ramifications of such, which they deem innocuous until someone acts from the culmination of negative misportrayals about minorities such as the recent Norway terrorist attack.
Now to blatant misinformation in the coloring book that the publisher states are “facts.”
The terrorist attack of 9-11 was not because Al-Qaeda “hates us because of our freedom” like what the publisher and former President George W. Bush falsely stated. 9-11 had nothing to do our freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom for women to get abortions, freedom for homosexuals to openly run gay nightclubs, etc. Bin Laden stated that America was a target because we were the “worst thieves in the world today and the worst terrorists” and that the American military was defiling the land of Islam’s two most sacred cities, Saudi Arabia, with military presence. This is what the 9-11 Commission Report concluded not my opinion. Most Americans aren’t ready for a serious, in depth discussion about the historical core of Bin Laden’s grievances against our nation from a historical perspective. A true discussion about 9-11 is greater than just the horrible terrorist attacks; the nuances of what led up to it and the motives of the terrorists have to be examined honestly. The publisher seems not to have done this himself.
We also know that Bin Laden was unarmed, did not hide behind wife, as later confirmed by White House. Why the publisher put a picture of Bin Laden hiding behind his wife, using her as a shield when it is not true is another fallacy in the coloring book.
I stand by my previous statement that this coloring book is a disgusting so-called educational piece for children.