This needs to stop:

The New York City Department of Education, red-faced over Brooklyn sixth-graders who slammed a GI with demoralizing anti-Iraq-war letters as part of a school assignment, will send the 20-year-old private a letter of apology Tuesday.

The GI got the ranting missives last month from pint-sized pen pals at JHS 51 in Park Slope.

Filled with political diatribes, the letters predict GIs will die by the tens of thousands, accuse soldiers of killing Iraqi civilians and bash President Bush.

Teacher Alex Kunhardt had his students write Jacobs as part of a social-studies assignment.

Lovely. And what articulate, well-thought-out words of criticism did these 12- and 13-year olds have for our hard-working, brave, dedicated soldier Pfc. Rob Jacobs?

One girl wrote that she believes Jacobs is “being forced to kill innocent people” and challenged him to name an Iraqi terrorist, concluding, “I know I can’t.”

Ah yes. Some 12-year-old can’t name an Iraqi terrorist and thus concludes that there aren’t any. Clearly her taxpayer public education is covering all the bases.

Another girl wrote, “I strongly feel this war is pointless,”

Guess what? Feelings aren’t a perfect guide to the truth. I blame only your parents and teachers for failing to educate you about why wars may sometimes be necessary, and that we didn’t start this fight.

while a classmate predicted that because Bush was re-elected, “only 50 or 100 [soldiers] will survive.”

50 to 100? Of the tens of thousands that are over there? When our soldiers outnumber the terrorists something like 100 to 1 (or more)? Even when I was in 6th grade, I was a better critical thinker than that.

And since when does a 6th grader have an opinion about a Presidential election? Kids don’t care about things like that, when left to their own devices.

A boy accused soldiers of “destroying holy places like mosques.”

Well, when the enemy is inside them, shooting at you from there, and using holy places as storage for weapons and safe hideouts for terrorists, the building forfeits its right to amnesty. In fact, the Geneva Conventions are very specific about this. Would it be any different if Christian terrorists were using churches to store weapons and use as a hideout?

It also should be noted that mosque raids in Iraq are being carried out by Iraqi troops, and not coalition. They certainly don’t have a problem with it.

Even one kid smitten with soldiers couldn’t keep politics out of the picture, writing, “I find that many extreme liberals are disrespectful to you.”

And the kid should be commended for thinking for himself. He appears to have made an observation about the behavior of others, rather than simply parroting what he was told.

“I want to think these letters were coached by the teacher or the parents of these children,” Jacobs said in an interview from Camp Casey, Korea.

“It boggles my mind that children could think this stuff.”

They don’t. Obviously they are being coached. Or brainwashed, if you prefer a more accurate term. Attitudes and phrases like this don’t result from objective education based on facts and looking at both sides of the picture. These kids are being indoctrinated by the school and by their parents (or the parents are failing to counter the indoctrination, which is just as bad).

Using children as proxies in social and political conflicts is beyond disgusting, and reveals the true cowardly and dishonest nature of the perpetrators. I have ranted before about PETA doing this kind of thing, but it is a more general, widespread disease in our educational system.

This needs to stop. Both sides need to repudiate this child abuse, and stop using the innocent as pawns in our own arguments and conflicts. Only a coward hides behind the innocent. Let the enemy come forth and be seen, and be engaged on the battlefield.

8 Responses to “Using the Innocent As Weapons of War”
  1. Bill C says:

    Hello Anne, great blog. I am not as bothered if the parents are doing this. That is one right of being a parent, passing on your PoV. The teacher filling young heads full of mush is a completely different story. In my mind it is a firing offense.

  2. warriorjason says:

    Great analysis

  3. Kyle Haight says:

    I tend to agree with Bill C. If the teacher is pushing an ideological view like that onto children it should be a firing offense. (Similarly if the ideology is pro-war; as Anne says children should not be used as pawns in adult political disputes.)

    If it’s a parent, there isn’t an institutional problem. It’s still disgusting that a parent would use a child as a political tool, but free societies have to allow that sort of behavior. I don’t want the law interfering in what I can teach my children; a consequence of that is that I also don’t want the law interfering in what other people teach their children either. These childhood teachings can be overcome in adulthood — David Horowitz was a red diaper baby and he turned into quite an anti-leftist in the end. Such parents should be morally condemned but the law should leave them alone.

    From the school’s standpoint this is something that should have been handled ‘below the radar’. Were I the teacher in question I would have read all the letters, graded them based on content-neutral standards of grammar and spelling, and then just quietly discarded the offensive ones instead of mailing them. Either that or just not mail any of them, positive or negative.

  4. A Richardson says:

    Hmm… Fox News and the NYPost are the sources for this dubious story so I’m kinda thinking shenanigans have been pulled. I’ve done multiple searches on various news search sites and nothing comes up for this. If this really happened, I suspect it would be all over the news. It’s not.

    You have to remember that when a story makes you emotionally charged, you ought to stop and question its validity. If I had to bet, I’d say this was either an outright lie or has been exaggerated. Regardless of you political stripes, you must realize that Fox and the NYPost are no strangers to sensationalism and yellow journalism of this sort.

  5. Kyle Haight says:

    If the incident didn’t happen as reported, I’d be perfectly happy. Children should not be used as pawns in adult political disputes. Period.

  6. Anne Haight says:

    Hannity & Colmes had the soldier’s father on the show recently. I agree that it doesn’t seem to have been widely picked up by the news services, but I would hardly call the NY Post and Fox News “yellow journalism” media outlets.

    And frankly it isn’t any more outrageous than other legitimate things I read about happening in public schools, such as kids being arrested and handcuffed for drawing pictures.

  7. A Richardson says:

    “Yellow journalism” is just a term for sensationalism or news reporting that tries to elicit an emotionally charged reaction. So Hannity and Colmes did have a guest on and, for the sake of argument, the events transpired exactly as it was told, that doesn’t make it any less an example of yellow journalism. If even a legit story is presented in a way that makes you upset, it’s probably being sensationalized in some way, and, in general, that’s unethical behavior for a news outlet. And yes, Fox News and NY Post are both horrible offenders in that regard, the former much worse than the latter. But then, Fox is getting huge ratings, so I guess people want to be emotionally charged by their news, for whatever reason. Go figure.

    Anyway, my point still stands. Examine why it upsets you and look further to make sure all aspects of the story are being told. Often, something is left out to make it look worse.

    I live in Washington State and a local radio commentator was making a fuss one day about how a school had pulled their plans to do a school carnival because they couldn’t get the information about the event printed in both English and Spanish. The commentator ranted on and on about how ridiculous this bi-lingualism has become and now kids have to give up their fun because school admins are so politically correct and blah blah… I admit, it made me a little upset hearing it, but I took that as a cue that I needed to look further into it. I discovered with only a few minutes searching on the Web that the school was located in a heavily Spanish-speaking part of the town so many of the students didn’t speak proficient English. The previous year when the school had done a carnival, it had caused the school massive headaches when they printed the info about the carnival in English only as school admins and faculty spent lots of time trying to explain to Spanish-speaking students and parents the details about the event. They were only pursuing the Spanish printing to save them time and money, not to push some liberal multicultural agenda.

    So be careful. If it charges you up, look into it further. Chances are that you’re not getting the whole story. Don’t fall prey to bad journalism.

  8. Rainne says:

    Appalling, if true.

    I totally agree with your comments about not using children as pawns in this political back-and-forth. I don’t personally agree with the war in Iraq but that’s my personal opinion and this isn’t my blog. ๐Ÿ™‚

    However, even not agreeing with it, I certainly wouldn’t send comments like that to a soldier stationed overseas, and neither would my child (if s/he liked sitting down, anyway).


    I remember being in Girl Scouts when I was, oh, ten or eleven… we were writing to Mr Gorbachev to ask him to let us have pen pals from Russia, before the Iron Curtain came down. I remember not quite understanding the point of the assignment and throwing in a number of inappropriate comments about nuclear warheads or something of that nature… I don’t remember now exactly what I wrote. BUT my troop leader scanned all the letters for content and made me rewrite mine. In this situation, I blame the teacher for not doing the same thing.

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