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There's Much to Learn After 9/11

September 05, 2002

As a soon-to-return-to-the-classroom teacher, I read the Sept. 1 commentary by Abraham Cooper and Harold Brackman on educating children about Sept. 11 anticipating some advice that I could use.

Instead, I found a list of simplistic slogans and self-contradictory advice verging on the incoherent. One example should suffice: "Why not," ask the authors, "begin teaching patriotism and our obligation to defend the nation from enemies, foreign and domestic, in the elementary grades?" Now that would be quite an undertaking! Who, exactly, are these "enemies, foreign and domestic"? Will Cooper and Brackman issue a list or should we teachers rely on the Bush administration? Might that list include the government in Baghdad or the sneaky guy who just moved in down the street? Will evidence be necessary or just intuition?

Here is my problem more specifically described. Since, as a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I am absolutely committed to equality and democracy, couldn't I make a decent case that the category of "domestic enemies" might include the current attorney general, John Ashcroft, and, perhaps, even the current president? After all, within the last year they have arrogantly diminished our due process protections and proudly defended new laws allowing federal officials to spy on Americans without evidence.

Is that what Cooper and Brackman meant? Or am I just old-fashioned in my commitment to the Bill of Rights?

Jim Mamer

Modjeska Canyon

*

Regarding your special section, "The Plot," Sept. 1: I must praise The Times for the informative article by Terry McDermott. It was well written, and the facts, as presented, give a frightening account of the origins of the past disturbing year for Americans. Articles of this nature should be discussed in high school classrooms so that our future leaders will understand the gravity of this present danger.

Andrew Matthew

Agoura Hills

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