Friday, 12 June 2009

All (Insert Word Here) Will Burn in Hell

I was working in a school yesterday, I will not mention it by name but it is a faith school, or more precisely, a Muslim school.

I've only ever taught in a Muslim school once before, some time ago, girls only if I recall but the work I was doing was related to creative writing, so the issues that arose yesterday were no where to be seen.

It was an odd remit from the start, to work with the children on prejudice but we were forbidden from dealing with homophobia, there was also sensitivity around mentioning equality between men and women. This did not bode well and felt hypocritical and blinkered.

The sessions passed relatively normally, aside from the closing exercise, devised originally by Coretta Scott King, where various offensive sentences are read out loud but the object of each sentence is changed and the children respond with how it makes them feel. If it upsets them or makes them angry, they raise their hands and if they agree, they are to touch their ears.

When the key word used in the prejudiced sentences was Black, or Disabled Person, or White; the hands shot into the air but when the key word was switched to Jew, something quite disturbing happened: a few hands moved to ears.

Anti-Semitism in nine year old children is never nice to see, even if it is unthinking, learned behaviour from parents and family but our job is to challenge, gently of course, such perceptions. The exercise is clever in that we can compare and contrast the reactions to the other key words, the rest of the sentence is the same and unpick why it is different for Jews.

The answers showed a moral absolutism, a resistance to the idea that this particular group should be exempt from prejudice and so, as a last straw, the word Muslim was used in the prejudiced statements to draw the connection between anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The response to the use of the word Muslim in the statements was visceral, understandably because when the prejudiced lie is about you directly, it hurts all the more.

I was amazed to see that a hardcore still refused to accept the connection, that abuse of Jews was somehow justified based, no doubt in their young minds, on Jewish past actions. Indeed, it was the classic dehumanisation of the 'enemy' to fully enable hatred but in humans so young, it was a profoundly disturbing and distressing experience.

7 comments:

  1. And, thats our future folks.

    Petrifying.

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  2. I do not support the state of Israel, and I do think it is a cancer and an illegal apartheid state! This naturally does not extend of the jews, because historically when there was a Muslim civilization, jews escaped to Muslim lands from persecution in Europe. Islam as such does not have a problem with people of the Jewish faith whatsoever. I know how to separate things and tell the difference, but not everyone else does it.

    It so happened that since the establishment of the state of Israel, the Muslim majority out of ignorance or the sensational emotionalism that reins supreme over them mixed up the cards and started hating people of the Jewish faith and not the state of Israel!! What you have seen at this school is a result of that and yes, the families of these children feed them these ideas at a very young age, but this is no different than all the Jesus or Moses freaks out there all over the place. They all feed their children poisonous ideas.

    If you have read Richard Dawkins the god delusion, then you are well aware of the experiment he discussed about Jewish children in Israel regarding Muslims and Arabs using verses from the Torah and switching roles. It is very well done and is very similar to your table-top experiment at this Muslim school. The exact shameful results!!! I urge you to read this experiment.

    This is not the future of the UK which I think is brighter as a multi cultrual, multi ethnic society. It is a symptom of a visceral problem with all religious elks, the perversion of childhood that is. So I'm not saying it is a particularly Muslim problem neither am I assuming you think it is.

    I'm sorry that you faced such reality, but again you would have found the same at any school there in Israel. It is saddening, and it sucks hope out of my bones! I'm sorry Daniel!

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  3. Beth:

    That's some of our future, only a minority byt yes, a future to some degree.

    Mohamed:

    Thanks for your excellent contribution here and I have no doubt that I would find the same prejudice in a Jewish school or a Catholic school or anywhere that prejudice is allowed under religious reasons, as a blanket tool for oppression of others.

    Hope you're well?

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  4. Basic primate behavior. And very important in an evolutional sense. We did not come this far and get to the top of the food chain by being a bunch of pussies.

    The ability to de-humanize others is "important" in the survival sense precisely BECAUSE humans are, by most other aspects of their nature, so fucking nice.

    We were built to cooperate. Just need to find ways to turn off this evolutionary survival mechanism.... and allow the cooperative essence to shine through.

    This is the best I can do being this hungover.

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  5. I too have taught a few muslim children. I have also been told by children that the holocaust is a lie. This obviously comes from their parents or 'social circle'. There is a lot of pretending it's not happening going on, and a lot of fear of offending the muslim community. We need to address therse issues head on. It is totally unacceptable to be anti-semitic in this kind of way. I am not a Jew but my father dropped bombs on the Nazi party headquaters in 1944 and passed through Buchenwald Concentration Camp after being shot down, so he educated me well about anti-semitism. He would be ashamed to see the way this behaviour is dealt with in school and probably sad that I did not make a bigger issue of it.

    I like your blog, you seem like a very nice chap. Good luck to you.

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  6. Thanks None of the Above, nice comment, much appreciated.

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