Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How NOT to Explain 9/11 to Children

 Only in America can you turn a profit on a national tragedy and sell it to children. Presenting the We Shall Never Forget 9/11 Kids Coloring Book by Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. On their website the company states that the coloring book  "is designed to be a tool that parents can use to help teach children about the facts surrounding 9/11. This book also describes basic freedoms in America. We suggest parental guidance." They also state that this has been their fastest selling book in their company's history. I'm not sure if I should be more concerned that this was marketed by the publisher as a "coloring novel" with a PG rating or that these coloring novels are flying off the shelves. Now there are and has been a lot of commemorative 9/11 merchandise out there but a coloring book for kids? Not only does the book fail to make any distinction between Islamic radicals and peaceful Muslims there is this following image of a Navy Seal taking out Bin Laden. The publisher has stated in multiple interviews that they have presented all the facts and are presenting them in this "coloring novel" to teach future generations about these "facts". Oh did I forget to mention that kids can color in the smoldering Twin Towers before their collapse?

I believe we shouldn't guard our children from heavy issues but for a parent to use this as a instruction tool just doesn't cut it for me. What's worse is that in the minds of an impressionable child material like this is similar to the propaganda distributed by terrorist organization: They are the enemy, They have attacked us, They hate us. The connection that children would naturally make is that Muslims= bad guys. The publisher states the book is not about Islam but about 19 hijackers who happen to be Muslim. The parents who purchase the book are more than likely to reinforce the negative stereotype that the publisher states is trying to avoid. Luckily children are very inquisitive and may begin to ask the tough questions their parents may not have the courage to ask themselves.


Sammy said...

This is just WRONG on so many levels.

First, it is a completely inappropriate medium to teach children about such a terrible tragedy. It is like making a coloring book of Jewish prisoners in a concentration camp to teach about the Holocaust or the U.S.S. Arizona exploding and sinking to teach about Pearl Harbor.

Second, as you pointed out, this coloring book equates all Muslims as terrorists and enemies just because the perpetrators of 9/11 happened to be Muslim. It is planting the seeds for American children to grow up hating and stereotyping Muslims, even though there are about 2.5 million Muslim Americans, most of whom love their county, as well as the approximately 1.5 billion Muslims in the world, most of whom are good people practicing a peaceful religion.

[On a side note, how come every time a Muslim commits a crime, people, especially Christians go out of their way to call them a Muslim terrorist, like Nadal Hassan (who shot and killed 13 people, wounding 29 others at Fort Hood) or Faisal Shahzad (who planted the failed car bomb in Times Square last year)?

Yet, when a radical Christian commits a crime, like Scott Roeder (who murdered abortion provider Dr. George Tiller) or Anders Breivik (the Norwegian who gunned 69 young adults at a youth camp in Utøya and murdered 8 others in Oslo with a car bomb), they are never called Christian terrorists. Instead, many Christians are quick to proclaim that those people are not "real" Christians, since no "real" Christian would ever commit such terrible crimes.

Of course, the unspoken assumption is that "real" Muslims, unlike "real" Christians, would, and do, commit such terrible crimes. It utter hypocrisy and it is disgusting.]

Third, this coloring book is meant for children, so why does it contain extremely disturbing and violent images? The page of the Twin Towers burning is bad, but the page with Osama bin Laden getting shot is much, much worse. If I had children, I would never let them have a coloring book which contained such images. Even if you believe killing Osama bin Laden was the moral and right thing to do, it is wrong to expose young children to that kind of violent imagery.

While I agree that children are naturally inquisitive and will probably begin to ask their parents tough questions, I am scared that any child who does that will be rebuked either verbally or physically for doing so. The parents most likely to buy this coloring book for their kid(s) are probably going to be some form of conservative Christians, a group which often does not take too kindly to dissent, especially from children. I got hit once just for asking whether cave-men came before or after Adam and Eve. If that happens enough times, a child will just give up asking questions and tow the "party line" just to survive.

Wow, that was a really long comment. Sorry, I guess I just got a bit carried away.

Eruesso said...


No worries. I enjoy the dialogue you bring to the table. I too come from a Conservative Christian background and was heavily discouraged from asking tough question. It only took one question during Bible class (which my teacher couldn't answer) which taught me at the time that there may be other views outside of the religious and social camp I grew up in.


captron52 said...

I toptally agree with both of you. This just isnt a good idea what we do for money never fails to amaze me.

Karma said...

Hatred begets hatred.

Before too long we'll have "shoot Osama" booths at carnivals. Wait - no - I've got it! A whole carnival based on 9/11 held on 9/11 every year. They can have themed rides like "ride the twin towers as they fall". It's a cash cow just waiting to be slaughtered.

Sabio Lantz said...

I waited 11 years to show my son the footage of the events. We don't have a TV so we watched it on a computer at a coffee shop and discussed.

I was glad I waited. He digested it better now and we could talk about it more deeply.

Post a Comment