Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A lesson in using fear to fuel politics

With all the education headlines lately, what better time to get educated?

Surely there are lessons to be learned from the teacher strike in Chicago that left 350,000 kids out of school, one on how grownups are supposed to compromise with something as big as education at stake.

Then there's Gov. Rick Scott's "listening tour" of schools across Florida this week in the name of improving education — intriguing, since Scott has not exactly been known as the state's biggest booster of teachers. But the not-so-popular governor has hopes for a second term, so maybe that "listening" tour will include some actual "hearing," too.

And in our own back yard, we have the latest move by that irrepressible group of zealots apparently determined that no Hillsborough County student shall hear the word "Muslim" on school grounds unless it is followed by the word "terrorist."

The Great Hillsborough Muslim Debate might have grown stale by now, except this week group members showed they were willing to exploit one of the most tragic days in our history to push the cause.

Believe it or not, Florida students are required to learn about world religions, and Hassan Shibly of the Council on American-Islamic Relations was invited last year to speak to a high school class. Reports of his talk indicated he was there in the name of education rather than to stealthily indoctrinate young impressionables.

Reaction was formidable anyway. A group packed School Board meeting after meeting demanding CAIR be banned. They claim to have nothing against Muslims, just CAIR and other organizations they see as controversial. Others suspect the group is against Islam in general.

Points to the School Board in the face of pressure. While the rules about guest speakers were restated and clarified, decisions were left largely to teachers and principals. Me, I like the idea of kids knowing about people and religions unfamiliar, and I trust educators to make that call. Particularly over this group.

Activist Terry Kemple does not. This is instructive because Kemple is a candidate for that same School Board, and also because he and his group thought the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would be a fine time to further their cause with a rally.

As the anti-CAIR crowd again made its pitch Tuesday outside the School Board building downtown, it was nice to see counter-protesters show up equally strong. "This Jew Stands With Our Muslim Brothers and Sisters," one young man's sign said. "No Hate Today" said another, and wait, didn't I see some of these same faces occupying Tampa and railing at Republicans two weeks ago? Anyway, there was fervor on both sides and an actual moment when a man yelled into a counter-protester's face: "Who you callin' hateful?"

Candidate Kemple, front and center Tuesday, had previously been quoted as saying: What better way to honor those who died on Sept. 11 than this?

And, really?

How about solemn remembrance of tragedy and sacrifice? How about reaffirmation of all we're supposed to be about, right down to educating kids about the world instead of shrinking from it?

That's a better legacy than pumping up fear to fuel a political future, but maybe there's a lesson there, too.

A lesson in using fear to fuel politics 09/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 7:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas deputy in trouble for social media boast: 'Nothing like almost shooting someone'

    Public Safety

    LARGO — A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media.

    A Pinellas County Sheriff's deputy is under investigation after a photo that shows him boasting about almost shooting someone made the rounds on social media. Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. Spencer Gross on Thursday confirmed deputy Austen Callus' employment and said the agency is "aware of the social media post." [Facebook'
  2. ReliaQuest's benevolent hackers try to make companies more secure

    Corporate

    TAMPA — Their goal is to get in. Past a security desk, through a firewall, into a system they shouldn't have access to. Sometimes they'll look like a regular person in the lobby who innocently forgot their access badge. Most times they won't be seen at all, remotely and quietly prodding a company's systems from a …

    Angelo Castellano of Tampa works at his desk at ReliaQuest | | [CHARLIE KAIJO, Times]
  3. Watch the trailer for 'Mini Lights,' based on St. Petersburg's frightening urban legend

    Blogs

    Perhaps you've heard of the "mini lights." The tales can vary a bit, but generally, they're said to be nasty little creatures controlled by a witch that once lived near Booker Creek. They come out after dark to "get you."

    A scene from the proof of concept trailer for a mini lights movie.
  4. Democratic ad: Adam Putnam is 'silent' on GOP health bill

    Blogs

    Democrats are trying to attach Adam Putnam to the GOP’s unpopular plans to replace Obamacare.

  5. Competition and uncertainty keep New Port Richey's Steve Miklos hooked on power boat racing

    Outdoors

    HOLIDAY — If Steve Miklos could have it his way, every power boat race would take place in rough water. He finds the turbulent conditions calming, an attitude he's developed during a professional power boat racing career that spans hundreds of races dating back to 1991.

    Steve Miklos, the throttle man and owner of the No. 51 Sun Print Racing boat, poses at his shop in Holiday. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]