It is outrageous. Students in an international studies class at Iowa State University were told recently to write a historical account of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — from the perspective of the al-Qaida terrorists who were behind those attacks.
The lecturer, James Strohman, gave the assignment to students and it’s one he’s apparently given for years with little complaint — until now. He is a registered Democrat, The Des Moines Register noted on Tuesday. Strohman also works for the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals and currently serves as the employee representative on the Iowa Employment Appeal Board, the Register reported.
“There is no correct answer here, just your ability to look at what we consider a heinous action from other perspectives,” the assignment read, as the Register and other outlets reported. “Don’t worry about the fact [that] you don’t agree with the terrorists; the point of the exercise is to consider completely different perspectives.”
In the ensuing uproar, the school has tried to quell concerns by saying the assignment will help teach globalization and help ensure our national safety.
“The assignment was in no way an attempt to diminish the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, nor was it designed to support the goals of al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations,” the university said in a statement given to The College Fix. “This is similar to the vital work being performed in our nation’s diplomatic and intelligence operations, such as the Central Intelligence Agency, or the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research.”
But for many of us, this is just another step in liberals’ continual march against America. In the opinion of this veteran and father, the assignment was meant to help promote the philosophy that any attack against our country is justified because of our own actions.
Think about it: Students could have been given a range of other assignments to help them understand differing international opinions. Maybe the professor could have focused on the village that was saved from Islamic fundamentalists by the U.S. military. Perhaps students could have delved into the emotions of the legal immigrant who is granted U.S. citizenship after long desiring it — and the freedom of which he or she has dreamed.
News for the Informed American Patriot
Sign up for our twice-daily emails and stay up-to-date on the most important news and commentary!
The age of most college students is the same age of many who join our U.S. military or civilian service — so perhaps they could have written about the perspective of young recruits fighting for their country in a distant nation. The students could have been prompted to write from the perspective of an innocent foreign national and his family who tragically boarded one of the planes that fateful September day. Yet all of those viewpoints probably would have gone against the lecturer’s ideology.
Colleges and universities have become places of indoctrination by liberals in today’s heated political climate. Fresh young minds from all over the country are too often polluted by bitter, left-leaning faculty, many of whom were the products of the Vietnam and anti-Ronald Reagan movements. It is both sad and enraging that our wonderful education system has become less about education and more about ideology. This bastion of leftism is protected by the fortification of tenure, which now has enabled unfettered political brainwashing.
We must understand our enemy. This much is true. Yet that understanding must be used to defeat and destroy our enemies — while preventing any future rebirth. We should study their culture, their methodology, their motivation. We should not promote or glorify their intent, which in the case of al-Qaida was to destroy our economy. The radical Islamic terrorists also wanted to render us unable to help defend Israel, their sworn enemy.
The notion of empathizing with our enemies is a relatively new concept. At no point have we seen a philosophy of trying to understand the Holocaust through the eyes of the German soldiers and executioners, for example. Our fathers and grandfathers would never have tolerated a school request to try to understand kamikaze pilots and their actions, or to explain the reasoning behind the brutality of Japanese soldiers during World War II.
Asking students to see atrocities through the eyes of the evildoers is akin to promoting empathy.
My own son is in the final semester of 7th grade. High school is just around the corner for him, and college thereafter. We frequently discuss current political events in our home. My wife and I try our best to explain the issues and why we believe and vote the way we do. We frequently discuss what other political ideologies believe as well. I want our son prepared when he meets and has discussions with those of opposite views. He should have his own viewpoints and defend his beliefs.
Yes, we want our children to learn how to think outside the norm — but asking them to see atrocities through the eyes of the evildoers is akin to promoting empathy. Not every action has valid reasoning behind it. Our family understands that this world is full of evil people who have no respect for human life. Trying to instruct someone to understand these people is pointless at best — and unintentionally promoting such evil at worst.
As Michael Caine said in “The Dark Night,” “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”
Let’s not glorify or commiserate with that type of person.
John Cylc is an eight-year U.S. Army veteran and lives with his family in eastern Tennessee. His primary advocacy is promoting and protecting Second Amendment rights.