Virginia Department of Education is accused of ‘hijacking history’ over new video urging teachers to call 9/11 killers ‘extremists’ not ‘terrorists’ to avoid Islamophobia

By Ana Idiot



The Virginia Department of Education have been slammed for a teacher training video which instructs teachers to avoid calling the 9/11 killers ‘terrorists’, and to avoid promoting ‘American exceptionalism’ during lessons about the attacks.

The nearly two-hour long video posted on the VDOE’s YouTube channel (which has since been removed) is intended to promote a ‘culturally responsive and inclusive 9/11 commemoration’ to guide teachers how to broach the sensitive subject ‘in a way that does not cause harm.’

But the advice was blasted by some parents as ‘woke-washing the 9/11 attacks’, and ‘hijacking history’.

The instructional video shared as part of VDOE’s VA Equity webinar series was lead by American University School of Education professorial lecturer Amaarah DeCuir.

DeCuir shared her ‘Webinar In’s & Out’s’ listing ways she deems appropriate or inappropriate to teach about the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks.

She claimed that asking students to ‘stand and condemn 9/11’ in a performative way would be ‘highly inappropriate.’

She also suggested that teachers use the word ‘extremists’ instead of ‘terrorists’ to further ‘disrupt this false equivalency of Muslims and terrorism.’

‘I choose to use the word extremists and I use this based on the scholarship of other scholars and activists in the community that will also use this word to describe the perpetrators of the crimes associated with 9/11,’ she said.

She warned of the consequences of teaching American exceptionalism instead turning the focus to ‘our shared humanity.’

 ‘We’re also not going to reproduce what’s understood as American exceptionalism — this understanding that America is a land at the top of a beautiful mountain and that all other countries, nations, and people are less than America,’ she said.

‘We’re not going to reproduce notions that American history and American experiences are more significant than the experiences or histories of other people,’ she continued.

‘So we’re going to begin with a common understanding of our shared humanity, regardless of our national, racial, linguistic or religious origins.’

DeCuir reminded teachers of the importance ‘to plan our 9/11 lessons in a way that does not seek to reproduce anti-Muslim racism.’

‘We’re not going to reproduce a false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11. We’re just going to begin right there and name that there is no responsibility and therefore we’re not going to use this space to try and untangle this.’

‘Do not use this day to amplify the extremists themselves and don’t use the day to amplify their acts on 9/11. You name what happened and that’s it,’ she added.

DeCuir encouraged teachers to  ‘extend expectations of ‘equity” to all students, humanize Muslim students, acknowledge anti-Muslim racism, and pushes them to continue to learn.

The video training advised teachers to avoid the ‘false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11,’ anti-Muslim rhetoric, analyses of US foreign policies, and American exceptionalism.

The comments on the video have been disabled but some Virginia parents were not appreciative of the training which comes at a very sensitive time leading up the to the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and the closing out the end of America’s controversial withdrawal and evacuation from Afghanistan.

Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education, and a Virginia resident, accused the presentation of ‘hijacking history’ and ‘woke-washing the 9/11 attacks,’ in a statement to Fox News.

‘As an American Muslim parent and journalist who has investigated Islamic terrorism for the past 20 years, it’s offensive, immoral, unethical, manipulative and dangerous,’ the statement read.

‘The Virginia Department of Education is woke-washing the 9/11 attacks. Speaker Amaarah DeCuir instructs teachers to erase the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were motivated by an extremist interpretation of Islam,’ she continued.

She blasted Decuir for advising ‘teachers to talk about ‘extremists’ behind the 9/11 attacks, without identifying them as Muslim extremists or calling them out as ‘terrorists.’ It would be like teaching about the Holocaust without discussing Nazi Germany.’

Nomani believes ‘the Virginia Department of Education is promoting a victim narrative for Muslims by instructing teachers to focus on ‘anti-Muslim racism’ that allegedly sprang out of 9/11.’

‘The Virginia Department of Education is taking a page out of the playbook of truth-deniers within the Muslim community who don’t want to own up to the real problem of Muslim extremism, but meanwhile dedicate lessons to ‘white supremacy.”

‘The Virginia Department of Education is failing students – and America – and needs to immediately remove this irresponsible instruction and apologize for endorsing this dangerous rewriting of history a platform,’ she said.

Parents Defending Education ‘is a national grassroots organization working to reclaim our schools from activists imposing harmful agendas,’ according to their site.

The VDOE’s training video for sensitive 9/11 related lesson plans comes several weeks after the Department of homeland security released a issued a new National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) Bulletin warning the public about increasingly complex and volatile threats.

DHS is looking ahead at the ‘current heightened threat’ as the country comes upon the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks on America.

Leading up to the 20th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11, DHS is aware of threats ‘posed by domestic terrorists, individuals and groups engaged in grievance-based violence, and those inspired or motivated by foreign terrorists and other malign foreign influences.’

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