MONDAY, AUGUST 26, 2002
A SPECIAL KIND OF PUBLIC LIAR: Did the NEA construct a subversive web site concerning September 11? The Washington Times wants you to think that they did (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/23/02), but the claim is a ludicrous slander. The site contains two highlighted sectionsAdditional Resources and War on Terrorismalong with the section called Lesson Plans. How subversive is the NEA site? Consider what the site includes in those two highlighted sections.
Additional Resources? The section starts with a Patriot Pack of famous American documents. Then comes Voices of the Past, Visions for Tomorrowa set of ten speeches showing how great Americans have expressed the foundations of our freedom, rights and responsibilities. Of those ten speeches by great Americans, by the way, the first three were delivered by President Bush. This is not subversive material. Under War on Terrorism, meanwhile, the NEA links to three major web sites which present information about the war. To whose site does the NEA link first? It links to the site of the CIA, followed by that of Homeland Security! It takes a special brand of public liar to spin this as a subversive venture, designed to teach kids to blame America first. But we live at a time when rank public liars increasingly drive our American discourse. Which brings us back us to Ellen Sorokin, and to her three stunning front-page reports in last weeks Washington Times.
For reasons best known to her and her editors, Sorokin wants you to think that the NEA is teaching children to hate America. And bizarrely, she wants you to think that the NEA is covering up for al Qaeda! Here again is the ludicrous way she opened her Day One report:
Clearly, Sorokins article suggests that the NEA is pushing a very strange ideathe notion that we just dont know who was behind the 9/11 attacks.
HEADLINE: NEA delivers history lesson/Tells teachers not to cast 9/11 blame
PGH 1: The National Education Association is suggesting to teachers that they be careful on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks not to suggest any group is responsible for the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people.
How hard will our public liars work to spread hate through the land? Sorokin ignores the speeches by President Bush; ignores the links to the CIA and Homeland; ignores the content of the lessons themselves; and finds her way to one obscure link in one part of the NEA site. (You have to work damn hard to find it.) From that single linked essaywritten by professor Brian LippincottSorokin cadges a couple of quotes, which she yanks from their plentiful context. She uses those quotes to give the impression that the NEA has some crackpot ideas. No group is to blame, the NEA has said. We should just blame America first.
All of Sorokins troubling quotes come from that single linked essay. But what does Lippincott actually say in his piece? His presentation is poorly written. But what does Lippincott mean when he says: Do not suggest any group is responsible? Duh. In the same paragraph from which Sorokin cadged her quotes, his meaning is abundantly clear:
According to Lippincott, what group should we avoid blaming? He makes his meaning perfectly clear. According to Lippincott, teachers should avoid suggesting that all Arab-Americans are to blame for September 11. It is perfectly clear, all through his essay, that this is the group to which he refers. (Read Lippincotts first five numbered statements, and see if you have any doubt what hes saying.) But Sorokin wants you to think something else, and so she yanks Lippincotts quote from its plentiful context, pretending that he meant al Qaeda. Truly, there must be a special circle in hell for journalists who spread hate in this way.
4. Address the issue of blame factually. Explore who and what may be to blame for this event. Use non-speculative terms. Do not suggest any group is responsible
Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. However, explain that all Arab-Americans are not guilty by association or racial membership. Help kids resist the tendency to want to pin the blame on someone close by. [emphasis added]
More on Sorokins repulsive work in the days to come. But note one point from the week-long discussion which followed her initial report; note the silence on this latest slander from the nations good guy pundits. As President Bush recently said, your good guy pundits are swilling white wine at their Marthas Vineyard havens, and theyre going to sit out this ugly slander just as they have sat out all the rest. All over America, talk-radio screamers and op-ed shouters have mouthed Sorokins nasty slanders, spreading disinformation and hate through the land. And where are the HUNTS, the KINSLEYS, the GREENFIELDS, the RASPBERRYS? Where is MARK SHIELDS? Where hides DAVID GERGEN? Theyre overpaid and theyre very scared, and they no longer care about Americas discourse. They didnt stand up to Tony Blankley last week. They wont speak to this latest hoax either.
Readers, we need to see, without any blinders, the actual state of our public discourse. From what does its current corruption stem? It stems from the rank dissembling of writers like Sorokinand from the cowardly silence of good guy pundits. In her remarkable front-page pieces, Sorokin gave the screamers and shouters their latest chance to spread hate and slander. But keep your ear to the ground and your eyes wide open. See if even one of your favorite pundits puts down his wine, stands up on his haunches, and cares enough about his country to do a brave thingto speak back. We suspect that their silence is helping you see the true state of our current public discourse.
SHE TOO SERVES: Whose interests and world-view does Sorokin serve? Midway through her Day-One piece, she finally acknowledged whos driving this slander. Dont be fooledour public discourse is now being driven from deep in a maggot-rich pile:
SOROKIN: A lot of whats stated in these lesson plans are lies, said William S. Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative policy think tank. None of what is mentioned in these plans are facts. Its an ultimate sin to now defend Western culture. It does not matter today whether a student learns any facts or any skills. What matters now is the attitude they come away with when they graduate school.
None of whats mentioned in these plans are facts! And there is no such thing as peaceful Islam! Sorokins work is driven from our lowest orders. But so, of course, is our current discourse, because good guy pundits are off at the beach, too frightened to speak, too indifferent to careand too well-paid to want to bring the heaviest wave in the world on their heads (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/23/02).
The critics also have trouble with schools teaching about Islam, specifically when teachers describe it as a peaceful religion. Instead, they say, schools should warn children that the root of the problem lies in Islamic teaching.
There is no such thing as peaceful Islam, Mr. Lind said. It says that followers should make war on those who believe that Christ is the Messiah.
A SPECIAL KIND OF PUBLIC HATER: None of what is mentioned in these plans are facts, Lind announced to the credulous Sorokin. Quite clearly, there is now no lie so completely absurd that it cant be rushed straight to page one. The NEA site is of course full of facts. And for the record, here is the very first statement in Lippincotts essay, which isagain, it must be made cleara minor adjunct to the NEA site:
LIPPINCOTT: The terrorists caused tremendous harm because they acted violently against innocent people out of blind hate.
Does Lind believe that statement is false? But lets stop playingWilliam Lind is a rank hate-peddler. But because theyre out on the field of battle, haters like Lind are now driving our discourse. SHIELDS and GERGEN have stronger reps. But have you heard them speak this week? Or are they simply too bought-off to care?
TOMORROWSCRIPT THE PUNDITS WELL: How easily can your pundits be scripted? Check CNNs grisly Late Edition.