'Extremists' not 'terrorists': Virginia Dept. of Education 9/11 training video causes controversy
VIRGINIA (FOX 5 DC) - A Virginia Department of Education teacher training video is stirring up some controversy.
Parents are upset that it instructs teachers to avoid calling the 9/11 killers, "terrorists," and to avoid promoting 'American Exceptionalism’ during lessons about the attacks.
In the video, American University Professor Amaarah Decuir explains what she thinks is and isn’t appropriate to teach about the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks.
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It is important to note, Decuir does say these are her views and opinions and do not reflect the views and opinions of the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE).
"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 that," said Decuir.
During the video, she is suggesting teachers use the word extremists instead of terrorists to further disrupt this false equivalency of Muslims and terrorism.
She also warned of the consequences of teaching American exceptionalism instead of turning the focus to shared humanity.
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"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. We're not going to reproduce notions that American history and American experiences are more significant than the experiences or histories of other people," said Decuir.
The video was posted on the VDOE’s YouTube channel and it’s about two-hours long.
In a statement to FOX 5 DC, the VDOE says:
"This webinar was part of a series intended to help teachers create welcoming and affirming classrooms for all students and in this specific case to provide support to Muslim students, who may be subject to bullying around the anniversary of 9/11. As stated in the presentation, the speaker made it clear that her views and opinions do not reflect the views and opinions of the VDOE. As such, any statements made in the webinar are not to be attributed to the Virginia Department of Education.
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However, parents like Asra Nomani with the parents defending education are blasting the video. She says as an American Muslim, she is deeply offended.
"I was so disturbed by the politics of what the speaker was trying to bring into the classroom. What she is doing, is she is trying to minimize the reality of an extremist’s interpretation within Islam that motivated the hijackers that did the 9/11 attacks and she’s trying to pivot a victimhood from Muslim students and have teachers instead focus on the issue of anti-Muslim racism," said Nomani.
FOX 5 DC did call the American University teacher several times during the day for comment and did not hear back in time for this report.