Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Edsel Ford High Remembers 9/11

Some folks have asked me about the Edsel Ford High School students, and their 9/11-inspired hoodies announcing, “You can’t bring us down.” (“Dearborn students' sweatshirts stir outrage”).

Look at the image and it’s impossible to miss the reference to the World Trade Center. Like you, I only know what’s reported in the news.

But here’s what comes to mind.

First, let me say that, even taking into full account the bottomless depths of poor judgment called to mind by the term, “adolescent male,” the 15 Arab students who incorporated the image as a way to show “school spirit,” must have been brought up in an environment from which the almost universal American memory of the attacks of 9/11 as a painful wound for the country is largely absent. These kids are only 16 now, (unless they’ve had to repeat some grades), which would have meant they were only 8 on 9/11. That’s when their impressions of 9/11 were formed. I was 8 when Kennedy was assassinated. My parents and everyone we knew thought it was a tragedy. Maybe if they hadn't, I'd have treated it as a subject of ridicule when I was 16. I do know that the Arab community in Dearborn was seriously unclear on how to react on 9/11. What exactly have their parents taught these guys? That is my main concern in all this.

Next, I can’t get with the Edsel Ford students or their parents, who feel the need to express how “offended” they are. We hear enough of that from CAIR and the ADC. If these kids broke a concrete rule, (and no high school could manage long with an arbitrary “don’t be an insensitive asshole” rule), then they should be suspended. Otherwise, leave them hanging out there in school every day with their classmates telling them what they think. Maybe there’ll be some fistfights and some hateful graffiti scrawled in the boys room. It is high school, after all. Nobody said it was a civilized place. I’m pretty confident the 15 aren’t going to make any converts.

And frankly, this is the first time in years I've actually heard non-Muslim kids in Dearborn schools expressing themselves so forthrightly. That is a positive thing.

Next, if Edsel Ford parents really think these kids are terrorists (and I don’t think they do believe that, really), then they should demand that the school or authorities treat them like terrorists, and support that conclusion with facts. From what I saw and read about this, the school officials couldn’t have reacted any more forcefully without dealing out some harsh discipline. I’m absolutely in favor of waterboarding, but not for these kids. I don’t think these guys known anything. Literally.

In my view this sweatshirt doesn’t prove terrorism, just ignorance, stupidity, and alienation. For my general views on that, see my remarks on adolescence above. Nor should anyone in Dearborn have any illusions that a large segment of the city's Muslims do not feel a part of the American nation. If there are a lot of families that feel that 9/11 was something that happened to someone else, not to us, I want as much of that out in the open as possible. My point is, if you want to stand up against terrorism, being “offended” by this kind of nonsense isn’t going to cut it. There are real people trying to kill us. This is a sideshow.

Otherwise classmates should feel free to let these 15 students know exactly how lame they really are. And isn’t that really what high school is all about? For kids to find out what dumb, clueless, losers they really are? And for those students who find the sweatshirts objectionable, this could be a chance to release all the energy they’re not allowed to release against the kids in the Gay and Lesbian Club.

Next, I’m curious about just what lowlife at the Gibraltar Trade Center took 25 bucks a piece off these knuckleheads to print this image on their sweatshirts.

Now maybe the classmates of these guys really do know something that we don't, that’s not making its way into the news reports. I was struck by a couple of the comments from students about intimidation, and the one report that said students weren’t “buying it” when the 15 students said this was meant only to show school spirit. But the reports never fleshed out why they felt that way. If anybody knows anything, we’d be glad to hear it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

these shirts are badass!!!