A Review of the History of 9/11 in High School Textbooks by Rev. Bruce R. Leonatti

After reviewing selected 9/11 sections of the textbooks, Modern World History, An American Vision (Modern Times), Give Me Liberty (An American History) and Modern World History (Patterns of Interaction), being used by the Norwin High School or planning to be purchased by the Norwin School Board, the following conclusions are submitted to the Board of Education.

In the above listed textbooks, the histories that are written about the attacks upon the United States of America of September 11, 2001 are shameful misrepresentations of the actual details of that infamous day in our American history.

The dishonorable rendering of history found in the above textbooks can be described in these ways: omissions, propaganda, sanitations, whitewashings, political correctness, indoctrinations, confusion of facts, false conclusions, misinformation, and bias.

Omissions: The actual specific details of the accounts of the massacre of human lives that day are contained in less than five paragraphs, and in one textbook less than ten sentences. The Muslim names of the attackers are omitted along with their backgrounds and preparations for the attacks. The significance of this horrific act of aggression upon innocent civilians of the United States on sovereign soil by foreign enemies is not mentioned. Lacking are the racist, anti-Semitic, reasons for targeting the World Trade Center. Also, the radical Islamic religious hate for America as the “Great Satan” is without mention. The words Muslim or Islamic are never used in any of the direct descriptions of 9/11 in the above textbooks. The heroic attempts to regain control of Flight 93 are left silent. In one textbook, Flight 93 is given one sentence. “The fourth plane crashed into an empty field in Pennsylvania” Modern World History (Patterns of Interaction) p.656 Excuse me, people going 500 miles per hour upside down were driven into the ground.

Propaganda: Included in the sections giving interpretations of the events leading up to 9/11 are the usual excuses and standard talking points of radical Islam given as cover for their terrorist attacks. For Example: “Bin Laden was especially outraged by the presence of American military bases in Saudi Arabia and by American support for Israel in its ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.” Give Me Liberty: an American History p.1170 Doubts are raised about the strategic decisions and responses (unilateralism) of the United States to these attacks, while the planners and attackers are given an aura of having a noble cause for their actions. Their halo is couched in so-called offenses suffered on their part by the United States in the Middle East.

Sanitations: The brutal details of the box cutter take over of the hijacked planes, and the atrocious deaths of the people inside those planes and buildings hit by them are given no voice to ears that were not yet born on 9/11. The women and children murdered are allowed no expressions of their terror of that day. Descriptions of terrified burning people jumping from windows and crashing on roofs below are erased out. There is no description of the fiery flames spread by aircraft fuel that caused the crushing implosion of concrete and steel down upon firefighters and policeman. Did you know there was a child daycare center in the World Trade Center?

Whitewashings: The courageous rescue attempts, the spontaneous volunteerism, and the acts of American kindness that followed are presented, as if, these could somehow turn this cruelty of human evil into something wonderful that united all Americans.

Political Correctness: Muslim and Islamic, are words never mentioned in the history of the attack, but found only in one or two sentences several sections and paragraphs later. The home countries of the terrorists are not recorded. One textbook Modern World History, p. 657 uses the word Arab that is at best an ethnic attempt to avoid any religious connections to the motives of the murders involved. The word Jihad is never printed. The direct descriptions of 9/11 never use the word terrorism, but later connect terrorism only to Al-Qaeda, and never refers to it as an Islamic group.

False Conclusions: The student is given the impression that this is just one of many types of terrorism that have happened in our country over many years, so no big deal. The descriptions and details of these other terrorist attacks are given more ink then 9/11. And one textbook falsely gives the opinion that Americans have come to accept terrorism as a modern reality.

Confusion of Facts and Examples: The comparison of 9/11 to Pearl Harbor is deceptive. Hawaii was not even a State at the time of the Japanese attack. The world was at war with our participation anticipated by many. Some had even predicted the attack on Pearl Harbor. The attack on Pearl Harbor was a military aircraft attack on a military base. 9/11 was the ultimate surprise attack from an enemy of non-uniformed soldiers using commercial airplanes as bombs. That tactic was at that time far off the radar of American homeland security.

Bias: The homeland security reactions after 9/11 (Patriot Act) are stated as sometimes extreme and a violation of human rights and civil liberties by Modern World History pp. 657-658. One textbook, Give Me Liberty: an American History p.1170, stated, “The Bush Administration quickly blamed Al Qaeda.” Students are left to think that our government was reacting irrationally without evidence. Not one photo of the fallen heroes of 9/11 is pictured, but Osama Bin Laden is put in the student’s face twice. The American Vision: Modern Times p.810 p.817

Conclusion: The parents of students in schools today lived through 9/11, and they know many of the real details that present the true history of what happened that day. But the students now reading these textbooks were infants or not yet born on that day. Therefore, it is an injustice to present to them a history that so distorts their perspectives and makes them vulnerable to future propaganda. These histories also dishonor the soldiers who died to bring justice to the perpetrators of one of the most evil acts inflicted upon Americans in history. Finally, in the context of 9/11, these textbooks are not accurate history nor are they memorials to the sacrifices of Americans that day, but in fact salt in our wounds.