Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hillsborough School Board gets a chance to teach tolerance

"I don't think our children need to be exposed to things that are not healthy and wholesome, especially political issues."

— A speaker at the Hillsborough County School Board opposing a Muslim leader who spoke at a high school.

"Christianity can be described in one word: Love."

— Another speaker who wants a Muslim group banned.

"Coexist? Oh please."

Yet another who protested.

And if those aren't enough did-I-really-hear-that moments in the tempest currently before the Hillsborough School Board, now we've come to this: People comparing Muslims to pedophiles and felons and expecting elected officials to agree.

How did we get here, exactly, to today's workshop on who can come into the classroom?

Hassan Shibly, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, was invited by a teacher to speak to an advanced placement world history class at Steinbrenner High. (Students learn about religions like Buddhism and Christianity, too.)

Then, backlash. Four times, parents and activists complained and demanded guidelines for speakers — despite a lack of evidence that teachers and principals have shown bad judgment in this area.

Some want the School Board to ban CAIR. Others bashed Muslims in general. And more than one likened CAIR to sex offenders or racists. All of which gets especially confusing if you think high school is a good place to learn about unfamiliar things in the world, like Islam.

It's been said that when the economy is tough and the world is in turmoil, some people look for a place to focus anxiety and anger. This is daily bread for former-porn-addict-turned-crusader David Caton, whose organization is offering $1,000 to anyone reporting CAIR speakers at the school. I could not make that up.

Ditto activist Terry Kemple, who compared CAIR to a pro-pedophilia group. "If someone would be a member of (the North American Man/Boy Love Association), I wouldn't let them in a classroom," he said. "If someone were a member of KKK, I wouldn't let them in a classroom. It's no different." No different, he actually said.

Why give a guy like Kemple a platform? Because he is running for that same School Board and could win. Because he says he has his own policy for board members to adopt, and they just might.

Tempting as it is to blame home-grown hysteria, it's not just here. As the Times' Marlene Sokol reported, anti-Muslim sentiment is happening from Washington state, where parents protested Muslim leaders offering a show-and-tell on Ramadan, to Texas, where a principal transferred after parents complained about CAIR speakers who came because of bullying.

Is there room for debate on the history of CAIR? Sure, discussion is good. What's not good is wrapping your hands around the eyes and ears of kids out of fear. What's not good is assuming a local Muslim leader, a young lawyer raising a family here, comes not to educate but to indoctrinate and steal young minds — and that teachers are either in on it or too clueless to care.

At today's workshop, the board has a chance to say that education and the judgment of teachers and principals trump fear and those who exploit it. That would be a speech worth hearing.

Hillsborough School Board gets a chance to teach tolerance 03/29/12 [Last modified: Friday, March 30, 2012 12:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says

    Criminal

    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  2. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale

    Corporate

    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.

    Weinstein
  3. Trial begins in 2014 death of 19-month-old Tampa girl

    Criminal

    TAMPA — Even before his trial officially began, Deandre Gilmore had planted his gaze on the floor of Judge Samantha Ward's courtroom Monday, taking a deep breath and shifting in his seat as a pool of 60 potential jurors learned of his charges.

    Gilmore
  4. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe

    College

    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]
  5. Editorial: Trump uses Americans' health care as bargaining chip

    Editorials

    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself. The president's unilateral actions are aimed at driving up premiums, steering healthy people away from the federal marketplace and ensuring his inaccurate description of the law as a …

    Unable to persuade Congress to kill the Affordable Care Act, President Donald Trump appears determined to do the dirty work himself.