WASHINGTON -- Most Americans can provide a list of threats facing the United States. They might begin with nuclear terrorism, pause to mention smallpox and anthrax and end with car bombs. Most Americans -- I'll go out on a limb here -- are probably utterly unconfused about the identity and nature of our enemies.
But liberals are out to change all that. They want, above all, to prevent Americans from feeling any sense of righteous fury. How dare we, when we were responsible for slavery, imperialism, racism and an inadequate minimum wage? The liberals have cultural hegemony on their side, but neither logic nor facts.
The National Education Association has weighed in with suggestions to guide teachers on the first anniversary of the terror attacks. "Do not suggest," the NEA advises, "that any group is responsible. Do not repeat the speculations of others, including newscasters. Blaming ... is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault." Well, yes, someone is always at fault. And unless those "someones" are right-wing radio hosts, liberals just hate to see them blamed for anything.
In New York (the NEA would like this), a teacher was suspended merely for telling her class that all of the individuals who attacked this country on Sept. 11 were Arabs. Liberals have done their best, in the months since the attacks, to make it unseemly to notice this, as if with the smallest rumor, the mob mentality that characterizes the average American would make him charge off, pitchfork and torch aloft, to murder and terrorize innocent Arab-Americans.
National Public Radio has done its best to convey a state of siege for Muslims in America. Almost daily reports stressed the fear, courage and sense of alienation of American Muslims. But while there were some ugly episodes, the notion that we've lived through some sort of reign of terror against Muslims is pure fiction. The figures on "harassment" circulated by Arab groups turned out to be exaggerated.
The NEA also tells teachers to say: "We have no reason to believe that the attacks were part of an organized plan of any other country. The terrorists acted independently, without the sanction of any nation."
This is false. Did Afghanistan not fully participate in the terrorists' attacks? The whole world acknowledges this reality -- with the exception of the NEA. As for the terrorists acting "independently," this, too, is pure drivel. We are only beginning to learn of the ties governments all over the globe maintain with terrorists.
In the case of Saudi Arabia, discovering its smarmy under-the-table deals with Osama bin Laden is one of the things that has soured a previously cordial relationship. And Iraq and Iran have been on the State Department's list of terror-sponsoring nations for at least two decades.
But just in case teachers do all of the above and their little charges nevertheless say something "intolerant" about terrorists, the teachers are encouraged to "discuss historical instances of American intolerance." Some students will yawn, since they've heard little else in public schools for a couple of decades now. But others will swallow it whole and emerge from their miseducation as "men without chests," as C.S. Lewis prophesied.
They are learning so little about what America has done right in its history, so little about what made generations of our ancestors lay down their lives for this nation. Can most students tutored by the NEA think of a reason Abraham Lincoln would call this "the last best hope of Earth" when we held slaves and mistreated the Indians? We call the passengers on Flight 93 heroes, but do the kids understand why the White House or the Capitol is worth a battle with cutthroats? Do they realize that tolerance is not the only virtue?
The liberal hold on our education system amounts to a kind of moral disarmament of the nation. Before there can be an army, navy and air force capable of protecting us, there must be a citizenry that believes we are worth defending.
Mona Charen's syndicated column appears Mondays in The Sun.