A Colourful Education?

A colouring book about the events of the tragic and devastating 9/11 has provoked outrage, particularly amongst American Muslims, as the book not only presents incorrect and diabolically shameful information about the events, but also shows pictures of political violence, including that of the execution of Osama bin Laden. The book, titled We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom, has just been released by an American publisher based in Missouri called Really Big Coloring Books, which has already sold out of its first print run of 10,000 copies. The publishers claim that the book was “designed to be a tool that parents can use to help teach children about the facts surrounding 9/11″ and that it was “created with honesty, integrity, reverence, respect and does not shy away from the truth”. A specific page of the book exclaims, “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE”. (As a side note, Islamic Muslims… really?!)

Whilst I am not a mother, and therefore clearly not even close to being an expert when it comes to children and parenting, I cannot help but believe any parent who buys this book for their child(ren) is making a fundamental mistake and extreme error in judgment. Unmistakably, whilst I completely agree with educating our children and having an avid interest in their education and schooling, there are sometimes better sources available in which to help a child learn and flourish. Although the creation and production of this colouring book were hopefully (but seemingly not) advanced with a noble idea of teaching children about such an important issue, I can’t help but think that we should not be advocating such a book to children of such a young age; instead we should leave the education of this particular topic to the professionals. Allowing ignorant and clearly biased people to create such a book in which they claim “truth” is the key element, and then to sell this on a mass-scale to other just as incompetent and naive parents is inevitably going to create a generation of uneducated bigots who believe all Muslims are linked to extremism, terrorism, and radicalism, and that they are wholly responsible for the events of 9/11.

9/11 was, and still remains, a complex and confusing issue; one which is far too advanced and intricate to even attempt to explain to a child. Hell, most adults still don’t understand and are unable to comprehend the events of 9/11, often confusing misconceived ideas and media notions to be the truth. As a nation, we cannot control what the future generations learn and adapt behind closed doors, and anything that parents teach their children remains a controversial issue, particularly in our modern age. No doubt, there are openly racist, sexist, homophobic (or by some other prejudiced means) adults and parents in the world who will project their thoughts and feelings onto their children, whether they are fact, truth or even politically correct or in this case, not. That is inevitable. One of the only available deterrents of this problematic and biased education is to teach our children through the state schooling system, which although undoubtedly has its faults, does not blatantly allow children to grow up with preconceived ideas of any type of prejudice, particularly Islamophobia and general Muslim-hating.

Children should not be exposed to the dangers and threats of the modern world at such a young age. We are forever exclaiming that children grow up too fast and mature much earlier than we or any past generations did, yet at the same time publishers like those working at Really Big Coloring Books seem to believe we should taint and tarnish our children with pictures and messages of death and destruction, alongside a discomforting viewpoint of what “truth” is and an inappropriate, indefensible message that slaughtering fellow human beings is acceptable because they did it first and two wrongs definitely make a right. Depicting an Islamofascist attitude in a children’s book is wrong, no matter which way you look at it. Children should not be subject to such violent depictions and the education of the events of 9/11 should be directed more at teenagers and adults, because there are obviously still adults out there who believe Muslims are to blame. A whole 10,000 of them to be worryingly precise.

I am sure, or one would at least hope, that the majority of modern day adults and parents would condemn the anti-Semite behaviour of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis during World War Two. Why then, has a colouring book openly condemning Islamic extremists and therefore containing anti-Semitic behaviour been proposed as a creative way of teaching our children the “facts” of human life and the dangers of the modern world? It is merely portraying us adults as hypocritical and uneducated morons, who believe it was entirely wrong to persecute millions of Jews during wartime, but that it is completely acceptable to condemn and alienate a large proportion of our population (because despite the book highlighting the word “extremist”, most people tend to ignore this and just blame the entire Muslim society) merely due to their faith. Two wrongs don’t make a right; surely one of the first moral messages we teach our children, yet here we are ignoring what we ourselves have been taught, instead we’re attempting to teach our children that Muslims are the enemy to a perfect westernised world in which freedom and truth triumph.

Whilst this may be the only book in existence that would be able to explain the 9/11 events to George W. Bush in a clear manner, it’s overall coherence and existence are diabolical and shameful. The westernised world, and in particular the American population believe in freedom and a world free of ignorance, however by creating and selling this book, a small proportion of authors and publishers have allowed their country to be perceived as anything but. Publisher Wayne Bell recently told American television that the book “is history. It is absolutely factual” and does not portray Muslims “in a negative light at all”, yet any educated and level-headed individual can see that the book acts as a blatant, arrogant, flag-waving and dominant tool hidden under this supposed layer of historical “fact”. Not to mention the 10,000 foolish people who have already bought the book, presenting a sociopolitical backwardness of the American parental population and the triumph of idiocy over education, allowing these individuals and groups to demonise Islam and marginalise the Muslim society and faith.

A select minority of Islamist people made mistakes. Now, a select minority of American people are not only trivialising and educating their children wrongly and inaccurately of these mistakes, but they are also making an even bigger mistake in the sheer allowance of intolerance and hatred towards Muslims. Can we please stop allowing our children to repeat the same mistakes as we did. The whole idea surrounding the education of historical events is that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”, so why, for once, shall we not learn from our mistakes and instead attempt to create a world in which tolerance and acceptance of people who are different to us is the norm? I am clearly not forgiving and forgetting the events of 9/11, or even suggesting that we should ignore those terrible and tragic events, but what I am suggesting is that we should definitely not teach our children about it, especially from an openly prejudiced viewpoint as the colouring book condones and clearly promotes.

It is with great hope that these colouring books do not make a return for their second printed batch. Really Big Coloring Books, I think it’s back to the drawing board for you.