Bush & the Media Cover up the Jihad Schoolbook Scandal
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The following article is from a organization called The Emperor's Clothes, and comments on the effects of the U.S. creating a vast amount of books encouraging Islamic extremism in Afghanistan during the Cold War. It also comments on the Washington Post article1 also reposted on this web site. The original location for the Emperor's Clothes article can be found at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/jihad.htm2.
Bush & the Media Cover up the Jihad Schoolbook Scandal
By Jared Israel
[Posted 9 April 2002]
The Emperor's Clothes
Have you heard about the Afghan Jihad schoolbook scandal?
Or perhaps I should say, "Have you heard about the Afghan Jihad schoolbook scandal that's waiting to happen?"
Because it has been almost unreported in the Western media that the US government shipped - and continues to ship - millions of Islamist (that's short for Islamic fundamentalist) textbooks into Afghanistan.
Only one English-speaking newspaper we could find has investigated this issue: the Washington Post. The story appeared March 23rd. (1)
Washington Post investigators report that, during the past twenty years, the US has spent millions of dollars producing fanatical schoolbooks, which were then distributed in Afghanistan.
"The primers, which were filled with talk of jihad and featured drawings of guns, bullets, soldiers and mines, have served since then [i.e., since the violent destruction of the Afghan secular government in the early 1990s] as the Afghan school system's core curriculum. Even the Taliban used the American-produced books..." -- Washington Post, 23 March 2002 (1)
According to the Post, the U.S. is now "...wrestling with the unintended consequences of its successful strategy of stirring Islamic fervor to fight communism."
So the books made up the core curriculum in Afghan schools. And what were the unintended consequences? The Post reports that, according to unnamed officials, the schoolbooks "steeped a generation in [Islamist] violence."
How could this result have been unintended? Did they expect that having fundamentalist schoolbooks in the core curriculum would produce moderate Muslims?
Let's be reasonable
Nobody with normal intelligence could expect to distribute millions of violent Islamist schoolbooks without influencing school children towards violent Islamism. Therefore one would assume that the unnamed US officials who, we are told, are distressed at these "unintended consequences" must previously have been unaware of the Islamist content of the schoolbooks.
But surely someone was aware. The US government can't write, edit, print and ship millions of violent, Muslim fundamentalist primers into Afghanistan without somebody in high places (in the US government) approving those primers.
So if the books weren't supposed to be Islamist, that is, if their fanatical content contradicted US policy in Afghanistan, shouldn't the mass media and top politicians, such as President George Bush, now be calling for an investigation? Shouldn't they be demanding to know the identity of the official or officials who subverted the *intended* US policy by flooding Afghanistan with jihad primers?
Indeed, considering the disastrous consequences, shouldn't US officials and the media be questioning the very practice of violating the sovereignty of other countries by distributing millions of Islamic fundamentalist schoolbooks?
Yet after a thorough Internet search we could find no evidence that any mainstream Western newspaper, with the exception of the Washington Post, or any TV station or government leader has questioned - let alone denounced - sending fundamentalist schoolbooks to Afghanistan.
Quite the contrary.
For example, here's what the Boston Globe (owned by the NY Times) wrote about the old textbooks:
"Those schoolbooks that still exist are pro-Taliban screeds and deemed unusable."
-- Boston Globe, March 17, 2002 (1A)
This is implicitly misleading. How could Elizabeth Neuffer, who wrote this article, and who is the Globe's UN Bureau Chief, not know that these schoolbooks were made in USA? Was the UN also involved in distributing the Islamist books? Perhaps instead of hiding US complicity, she should do some investigative reporting!
Other newspapers went further, lying more elaborately about US involvement. Here is the Daily Telegraph from Sydney, Australia:
[Daily Telegraph Excerpt starts here]
"AFGHAN children ran, skipped and dawdled to their classrooms like pupils everywhere yesterday for the start of a new school year -- with girls and women teachers back in class and subjects like math replacing the Islamic dogma of the Taliban.
"In a symbolic break from a war-scarred past, children opened new textbooks written by Afghan scholars based at universities in the US.
"There are even pictures of people -- images banned by the fundamentalist Taliban."
- The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), March 25, 2002 (1B)
[Daily Telegraph Excerpt ends here]
By beginning the article with the irrelevant but cheery image, "Afghan children ran, skipped and dawdled, etc.," the Telegraph prepares us for an upbeat news experience. We are not disappointed. In the new schoolbooks, we are told:
"There are even pictures of people -- images banned by the fundamentalist Taliban."
This creates the impression that the Taliban were responsible for the bad old texts. Good thing we invaded Afghanistan and brought US influence to bear!
Unfortunately, as the Washington Post investigators reported:
"Even the Taliban used the American-produced books, though the radical movement scratched out human faces in keeping with its strict fundamentalist code." -- Washington Post, March 23, 2002
Other than their objections to the human face, the Taliban were perfectly happy with the US-produced primers.
Next, as if presenting evidence of a sea change, the Telegraph tells us great news: Afghan children now have new schoolbooks "written by Afghan scholars based at universities in the US."
Similarly, an article five weeks earlier in the Omaha World-Herald declares that, "Afghanistan stands at least a chance of hauling a modern, healthy society up out of the ashes of war and oppression," partly because University of Nebraska at Omaha "officials and staffers" will be "cranking up their presses in neighboring Pakistan" to churn out schoolbooks, all funded by "a $ 6.5 million grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development [AID]." (1C)
Neither newspaper mentions the fact that the bad *old* schoolbooks "were developed in the early 1980s under an AID grant to the University of Nebraska-Omaha and its Center for Afghanistan Studies." -- Washington Post, March 23, 2002)
What about the US government? Have any US congressmen demanded an investigation to find out who in the US government was involved in the production of jihad primers that "steeped a generation in [Islamist] violence"?
No they have not.
Speaking of forked tongues...
What about George Walker Bush?
You may recall that George and Laura Bush have made passionate speeches denouncing Islamic fundamentalism. At first Mr. Bush told us we needed to attack Afghanistan in order to stop Mr. bin Laden. But later on he (and Laura Bush) told us we were fighting to crush the vicious fundamentalists.
Has George Bush said anything about the textbooks?
Yes, Mr. Bush talked about the jihad primers in a March 16th radio broadcast. He held nothing back:
"And before the end of the year, we'll have sent almost 10 million of them [that is, new textbooks] to the children of Afghanistan. These textbooks will teach tolerance and respect for human dignity *instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry*." -- My emphasis - Radio Broadcast, March 16, 2002 (1D)
Note the phrase, "instead of indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry."
So according to Bush, Afghan school children won't have to contend with bad schoolbooks anymore because finally the US has taken charge, replacing those other guys, those evil educators who published textbooks "indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry."
The amazing thing is not only that he tells such total lies but that he delivers them with such righteous indignation.
What about the new textbooks? Will they "teach tolerance and respect for human dignity" as Honest George promises?
To be precise (which may be unwise in our modern world) how will the new textbooks that George Bush Junior is shipping into Afghanistan differ from the old ones?
You know, those old books that were also designed at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and also paid for by US AID?
You know, those old, un-American books that George Bush Junior attacked for "indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry"?
You know, those terrible old books that were shipped into Afghanistan by US AID when George Bush Senior was President?
Here's the Washington Post again:
"On Feb. 4, [Chris Brown, head of book revision for AID's Central Asia Task Force] arrived in Peshawar, the Pakistani border town in which the textbooks were to be printed, to oversee hasty revisions to the printing plates. Ten Afghan educators labored night and day, scrambling to replace rough drawings of weapons with sketches of pomegranates and oranges, Brown said."] - My emphasis, Washington Post, March 23, 2002
So it appears that the only change is that some violent pictures have been removed from the printing plates and some fruit has been added. There is no indication that the texts have been changed.
What does a non-fundamentalist Afghan educator think about the new schoolbooks?
"'The pictures [in the old schoolbooks] are horrendous to school students, *but the texts are even much worse,'* said Ahmad Fahim Hakim, an Afghan educator who is a program coordinator for Cooperation for Peace and Unity, a Pakistan-based nonprofit.'"
-- (My emphasis, Washington Post, March 23, 2002)
So the Untied States government is right now shipping into Afghanistan millions of Islamic Fundamentalist schoolbooks whose texts, according to a non-Fundamentalist Afghan educator, are not just "horrendous," they are "much worse."
Is it possible that this is all a terrible mistake? That Mr. Bush and US AID just don't know what's in the new schoolbooks?
'It's not AID's policy to support religious instruction,' Stratos said. 'But we went ahead with this project because the primary purpose . . . is to educate children, which is predominantly a secular activity.'"
(-- Washington Post, March 23, 2002)
So because education is predominantly secular it's OK for the schoolbooks to be fundamentalist. Likewise, since marriage is predominantly monogamous it's OK to cheat on your wife. And since banks are after all mainly places where people deposit money to keep it safe, it's fine to go rob a bank.
Mr. Bush describes the texts of the old books as "indoctrinating students with fanaticism and bigotry." But note, having been republished in the new books, these exact same texts have undergone a transformation. They have been reborn as "religious instruction" (says US AID) or "religious content" (says the White House). It's a modern miracle.
Reading these news reports and statements one might feel a certain sympathy for citizens of the US and allied countries, required to hold in their minds at one time a) the conviction that Mr. Bush is sincerely fighting Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan and b) the knowledge that the US is spending millions of dollars to indoctrinate Afghan school children with Islamic fundamentalism.
Not to worry. This problem has been solved by the US and allied mass media, which, with the exception of the Washington Post, have never told their readers and viewers who it was that produced the old books or what it is that's in the new ones.
Even the Washington Post has pulled its punches. For example, consider the headline of the March 23rd article, the only one that deals critically with the jihad primers.
Here's the headline:
"From U.S., the ABC's of Jihad; Violent Soviet-Era Textbooks Complicate Afghan Education Efforts."
"Violent Soviet-Era textbooks." This phrase doesn't even make it clear that the books were shipped in by the USA! They could have been hateful *Russian* books.
And the phrase, "Complicate Afghan Education Efforts" sounds like the books are hindering current US attempts at effecting progressive change. Nobody would guess from this headline that US AID has been forcing Islamic fundamentalist texts on Afghan kids for 20 years. And that they're still importing the same fundamentalist texts today.
(This is important because studies show that with any given article, most people only read the headline.)
In the body of the article itself the Post asserts without offering any evidence that steeping "a generation in [Islamist] violence" was an "unintended consequence" of giving these kids violent Islamist schoolbooks.
"Unintended consequence" is fast becoming the US Establishment's favorite excuse for the many disasters of its foreign policy. "We didn't know. We weren't prepared. We used old maps. We didn't see the train. We thought there were tanks in the refugee column. Who could have expected this to happen?" and on and on.
But does the case of the Islamist textbooks seem like "unintended consequences?" Or, quite the contrary, doesn't it show every indication of being "deliberate policy!"
In a forthcoming article we will examine other "unintended consequences" of US policy in Afghanistan.
-- Jared Israel
Editor, Emperor's Clothes
Footnotes & Further Reading
1) Washington Post, March 23, 2002, "From U.S., the ABC's Of Jihad; Violent Soviet-Era Textbooks Complicate Afghan Education Efforts."
1A) The Boston Globe March 17, 2002, Sunday, Third Edition Focus; Pg. E1 "The Task: Educating A Generation Of Women, And Quickly With A Female Literacy Rate Of Less Than 4 Percent, Teachers Face Obstacles Even With The Taliban Gone" By Elizabeth Neuffer (The Globe's United Nations Bureau Chief)
1B) The Daily Telegraph (Sydney), March 25, 2002, Monday * World; Pg. 19, "Girls' Return Spells Out School Changes - War On Terror: A Nation's Hope" By Alexandre Peyrille And Mehrdad Balali In Kabul
1C) Omaha World-Herald, February 8, 2002 Friday Sunrise Edition Editorial; Pg. 6b
1D) March 16, 2002 Saturday, FDCH Political Transcripts, "George W. Bush Delivers Weekly Radio Address"
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