Sunday, August 15, 2004

Undereducated Teachers

Here's a blurb which inadvertently, apparently, acknowledges a sad fact about the background knowledge of American teachers:

History teachers need an independent hotline to evaluate books and instructional materials on Islamic history, writes Sandra Stotsky on History News Network.

After September 11, it is clearly urgent to teach K-12 students about Islamic history and culture. It is also crucial for their teachers to have suitable instructional materials that do not inadvertently promote some person's or group's religious or political agenda.

Workshops for teachers confuse faith with history, she writes. One source given to teachers, The Arab World Studies Notebook, "claims not only that Muslims from Europe were the first to sail across the Atlantic and land in the New World, but also that they reached Canada where they intermarried with the Iroquois and Algonquin nations." It's not true, but few teachers know enough about Islamic history to evaluate the credibility of what they're given.

Viewpoint asks why it is that teachers, especially history teachers, would have to know anything at all about Islamic history to know that Muslims were not the first to arrive in the New World or to ask for some corroborating evidence when told that Muslims intermarried with Indians.

It would seem that the only thing teachers would have to know in order to avoid falling for this fantasy would be simple, rudimentary American history. The fact that educators are susceptible to Muslim propaganda about something they should have learned themselves in elementary school is troubling.


The Evangelical Outpost relays this clever observation from Infinite Monkeys:

David from Infinite Monkeys posted this priceless contrast of quotations:

The scariest words in the English language are "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help." -- Ronald Reagan

"Help is on the way." -- John Kerry

When politicians talk about "helping" it's time to hide your wallets.

Need More To Worry About?

A report in The Guardian of England indicates that "the numbers of sufferers of brain diseases, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and motor neurone disease, have soared across the West in less than 20 years, scientists have discovered. In the late 1970s, there were around 3,000 deaths a year from these conditions in England and Wales. By the late 1990s, there were 10,000."

This is an incredible increase in just one generation. The Guardian goes on to say that:

The team stresses that its figures take account of the fact that people are living longer and it has also made allowances for the fact that diagnoses of such ailments have improved. It is comparing death rates, not numbers of cases, it says.

The causes were most likely to be chemicals, from car pollution to pesticides on crops and industrial chemicals used in almost every aspect of modern life, from processed food to packaging, from electrical goods to sofa covers, Pritchard said.

Food is also a major concern because it provides the most obvious explanation for the exclusion of Japan from many of these trends. Only when Japanese people move to the other countries do their disease rates increase.

You can read the whole article here. Thanks to The Drudge Report for the tip.

What's Ahead In Najaf

As he has throughout the Iraqi war, Wretchard at Belmont Club offers up interesting analysis of how coalition forces will likely proceed now that the cease-fire in Najaf has broken down. An excerpt:

It is what must not happen next that matters. The tactical problem facing coalition commanders is how to kill or capture Sadr's forces with Iraqi personnel while avoiding unnecessary deaths and damage to the Shrine. That rules out the textbook solution of leveling it with fires. Because of the subdivided interior of buildings and the fact that Sadr may have wired the Shrine with demolitions a direct assault will probably be excluded for the present. The problem with an assault is that once friendly forces are in contact, one is bound to support them and that imperative will compel the scene commander to order the fires he sought to avoid in the first place. Besieging forces have traditionally used time to weaken resistance without applying direct force. In this case time can also work against the investing forces because Sadr will attempt to run countersiege operations by organizing marches and cavalcades by his supporters to Najaf. Given enough time, he probably reckons that the international media and possibly the United Nations will ride to his rescue. (Heritage site, blah-blah).

Without knowing what the operational commanders will do next, one can still surmise that they will attempt to compress the effects of time by applying unrelenting pressure on the garrison using disturbances, sniping and probes. They would be justified in using nonlethal agents such as CS (tear gas) to stir the pot. Things may still go wrong. Janet Reno's assault on Waco resulted in starting an accidental conflagration that turned the Koresh compound into a charnel house. What is important is to avoid building up the pressure to a climax, to avoid precipitating a self-inflicted Gotterdammerung by Sadr. I suppose one could set up loudspeakers and blast out Koranic verses at levels the EPA would rule illegal, etc. The whole idea is to make a day into an eternity until the days all run together in a jumble.

One hopes that the coalition forces will not vacillate as we seem to have done in Fallujah which has become a festering sore. Once Sadr falls or is taken, the insurgency will have lost a key to whatever legitimacy it still might have with the Iraqi people (although see here and here for Iraqi opinion on al Sadr), and it's disintegration will be accelerated.