Rouge Forum Letter: What Shall We Do? 

Dear Friends, 

The question, " Just what shall we do? " in response to the vile terrorist
attack is a very good one. We have been discussing that on the Rouge Forum
list. I will send a summary of that to anyone who asks. I don't want to jam
this list. By the end of the weekend, we will have a link on the RF www
site that people can view. 

I am passing along a note from Celia Oyler, which I think is helpful.

To me, it is clear that we must circumvent the unions, organize mainly
outside, but also inside. One foot in, but two feet out. Sure, a local
resolution against jingoism, racism, and the ruling class' war (on everyone
else) is a good thing--even though the waterfall of pressure to jump on the
war wagon from the unions' top bosses will be hard on local leaders. But it
is a far better thing to build a teach-in that can create friendships that
can serve as the basis of organizing people in new ways, across
communities, job-lines, and borders. 

Most of the young women and men who are about to be called upon to go fight
this Oil War have little to gain from it. Many of them know that. We should
not be wary of people in the military. Take a look at VA hospitals if you
need to see how the military treats its own. Ask the vets about Agent
Orange or Gulf War Syndrome. We should be talking to them as much as
possible. In part, it was troop mutinies that shut down the war in Vietnam.
This is a somewhat different military, and a different time, but the
economic draft that puts people in the military now is going to tell a tale
over time. 
There are several Vietnam Vets Against the War groups. Here is one link

This is an international war of the rich on the poor. Poor and working
people are going to pay a horrible price, everywhere. The genuine divide,
as Bonnie has said, is not nation, race, or religion, but class. The
present hysteria in some areas (hardly groundless) is going to meet daily
life over time, and the reality of class war is going to become more clear
to more people. At issue to educators, in part,  is: what is the
relationship of how people learn to what they need to know? How can reason
assist in breaking the patterns of abuse? 

I'll add, we can teach critically, and Start the AntiWar Movement Now. In
that context, it seems that we might note that friendship is a most radical
notion in the US, and something worth treasuring. While we resist, we need
to build genuine caring communities, in classes and out.  

This is a headline in the vaunted NY TImes today: "Holy Warriors Escalate
an Old War on a New Front" No mention of the rush to prove just who was
most born again at the last US election. Here is a template to criticize
this and other texts:
Good questions are probably more enduring than good answers. 

all the best, r

>Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001 17:27:50 -0400 (EDT)
>From: Celia  Oyler <>
>To: Richard Gibson <>
>Subject: Re: Work for educators
>Please distribute as widely as possible, thanks,
>Sept 15 New York City
>> >Dear educator,
>> >
>> >As teachers we have an urgent task in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
>> >Our Arab, Arab American, Muslim, Mideastern, and Southeast Asian students
>> >and neighbors need our vigilance and sustained support.  It is essential
>> >for us to work in our respective arenas to organize with our co-workers,
>> >friends, relatives, neighbors and students for local citizen protection
>> >and outreach.  For those of you living in areas without populations
>> >targeted for violence on the basis of skin color, religion, or accent,
>> >please reach out to organizations that need your support.  There are
>> >schools in the New York City area where children and teachers have already
>> >been targeted.  These children and teachers are not only suffering the
>> >daze, depression, worry, and anger that so many of us feel, but they are
>> >also experiencing severe threats to their physical safety.
>> >
>> >On Tuesday night I wrote a very brief email to a first year teacher who is
>> >completing her teacher education program here at Teachers College.  She
>> >has taken a position at a school in Brooklyn that serves a large number of
>> >Arab and Muslim children.  She herself is Egyptian American.  In my email,
>> >I inquired about her safety.  This is an edited version of her reply.
>> >(She wishes not to be named at this time.)
>> >
>> >***
>> >"Hi Celia,
>> >
>> >Thank you for your concern and support. I hope that all is well with you
>> >and that you have not faced too much grief as a result of the tragic
>> >incident. I have not suffered any loss myself - not that I know of yet, at
>> >least. The loss I suffer is different now. It's the feeling of not being
>> >comfortable walking down the street anymore, the feeling that I can not
>> >participate in political debates, state my last name or ethnicity, etc.
>> >
>> >Every time this type of thing happens I pray that the perpetrators are not
>> >Muslim or Arab - for it makes our lives that much harder. It's like I have
>> >to deal with both sides of the issue: the WTC getting bombed (as an
>> >American) and the potential retribution (as an Arab and a Muslim). The
>> >loss of any human life is always a tragedy for all of humanity. A single
>> >loss affects us all. Watching all those people was so surreal and
>> >unimaginable. 
>> >
>> >My school is closed until next week as a result of numerous bomb threats
>> >and physical attacks upon the school. Trying to evacuate the kids out of
>> >the school was a madhouse that day! Every time a little girl walked out
>> >with her hair covered, she got things thrown at her and insulted by
>> >onlookers. "Terrorist!! Go back to your own country!" they screamed. I
>> >have had this told to me many times growing up in the U.S., but it kills
>> >me to see a child go through it - especially since they have no idea of
>> >what is happening. But what do I expect from a people that are so
>> >saturated with negative media images of Arabs, Muslims, and foreigners in
>> >general? How can I expect them to not realize that what happened was done
>> >by a small group of frustrated, angry, hateful people? Should I wear a
>> >shirt that says, "We're not all that bad"
>> >
>> >We also had to deal with the children who have grown up in war zones
>> >-mainly Palestine and Bosnia. Many of them broke down and had flashbacks
>> >of their homelands and of the countless horrors they have witnessed in
>> >their short lives. Nothing could have ever prepared me for the experience
>> >of witnessing a child throw themselves on the ground and scream, "They're
>> >going to kill us! We're going to die!" and then start praying and crying.
>> >I can't stop the tears as I write this even. Imagine all that on my first
>> >day teaching!!
>> >
>> >My family is very sad - grieving for the lives taken and for the lives
>> >about to be taken. My parents have warned me not to discuss politics,
>> >cover my hair, or state my ethnicity to anyone. They told me that now is
>> >not the time for political statements - what can I say, they are parents
>> >above all else. My mother and father have both left work early because
>> >they couldn't handle listening to the comments people made about us.  My
>> >19-year-old sister's Palestinian friends are all staying with her due to
>> >death threats they receive on the phone. My 11 year old sister's postboard
>> >that she set up for Muslim girls has been closed down due to too much hate
>> >mail. My roommate who is also Egyptian couldn't go to class today because
>> >of all the posters declaring war on Arab terrorists. She was shaking so
>> >hard she couldn't concentrate. I don't know what to do if war breaks out,
>> >for surely some of my people will be absolutely demolished.  All of us
>> >have to listen silently when others talk of "bombing those Arab barbarians
>> >to death."  Is it selfish to think of the struggle that we have to face in
>> >the U.S. when so many people have been killed? I can't help it. It's not
>> >that I don't feel sorry for all the people in the tragic incident, it's
>> >just that I know the repercussions will be enormous."
>> >***
>> >This first-year teacher's letter eloquently outlines the reasons for all
>> >of us to take as many steps as possible to stand beside Arab and Muslim
>> >fellow citizens, extend our support to them individually and to their
>> >communities and organizations, and to speak against national drumrolls for
>> >war.  Some resources to assist you:
>> >
>> >Heide, F. P., Heide, J. H. (1995).  The day of Ahmed's secret.  New York:
>> >Mulberry Books.  (Elementary).  A young Egyptian boy in Cairo goes about
>> >his delivery work and then divulges his secret to his family: he has
>> >learned to write his name.
>> >
>> >Schetlman, L. (1999). A Peddler's dream. New York: Reading Rainbow.
>> >(Elementary). A Lebanese man, who comes to the United States to seek his
>> >fortune, suffers several setbacks, but makes his dream come true. 
>> >
>> >
>> >Wingfield, M., & Karaman, B.  (1995).  Arab stereotypes and American
>> >educators.  Social Studies and the Young Learner, 7(4), pp 7-10.  
>> >
>> >"Arab American Students in Public Schools" 
>> >
>> >[a very detailed set of curriculum recommendations]
>> >
>> >
>> >[I have not seen these PBS videos, but the descriptions sound very
>> >promising.]
>> >
>> >"One Hundred Questions and Answers about Arab Americans":
>> >
>> >
>> >Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee
>> >
>> >
>> >Arab American and Chaldean Council
>> >
>> >
>> >Arab American Chamber of Commerce
>> >
>> >
>> >Arab American Institute:
>> >
>> >
>> >Arab Film Distribution: 
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >
>> >DRUM (Desi's Rising Up and Moving) is setting up a number to report all
>> >incidents of hate crimes and bias attacks for South Asians in the NYC and
>> >New Jersey area.  Please call in all information about incidents including
>> >any contact information for those victimized.  They  began follow-up and
>> >community outreach Thursday throughout Queens and Brooklyn, particularly
>> >at Mosques and Gurudwaras in the area.  They will work with other groups
>> >to collect information and organize response with the leadership of folks
>> >in the community.  THE DRUM BIAS ATTACK NUMBER IS (212) 631-3689.

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