A commemorative 9/11 coloring book that rapidly sold out its initial ten thousand print run has opened up a new front for uncomfortable questions on the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The title of the book is “We Shall Never forget.” But young children are incapable of “never forgetting” something they did not experience in the first place. Is there a moral relativism as to how anniversaries are marked?
"Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?"
— George W. Bush
Florence, South Carolina; January 11, 2000
(September 6, 2011) -- A commemorative 9/11 colouring book that rapidly sold out its initial ten thousand print run has opened up a vista to a few uncomfortable questions on the ten year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The Stream discussed this and gauged the online community’s reaction to the comic books.
Unsurprisingly, Ibrahim Hooper, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), aired his disgust at the publication of the book.
The publisher, Wayne Bell from Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. claims they approached CAIR, and asked them to be involved in the development of the book.
CAIR declined, as Hooper says, because it is clear when a “group has an agenda,” which in this case was to “smear Islam”, it’s pointless working together.
Bell says his goal is only “truth”. This is the publisher’s video, designed to promote the book and also answer critics like Hooper.
“We Shall Never forget” is a phrase pasted and posted in numerous places around the United States as the country remembers the decade that has passed, which many believe has changed the world.
But for many elementary or primary school-age children, a philosophical conundrum emerges.
Children that young are incapable of “never forgetting” something they did not experience or would not remember in the first place.
So as with most narratives of the past that involve national trauma -- like the folklorish stories Serb children hear from their elders about Kosovo Polje, or Palestinian children hear about the 1948 Nakba -- the task is assumed by the elders; those in the know, in an effort to educate the malleable minds of the next generation so they might carry the patriotic mantle into the collective consciousness of an uncertain future.
Framing that narrative, is the contentious part.
When I entered my first year at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, it had been barely six years since apartheid came to an end, ushering in democracy.
A literature professor gave us some “Black Consciousness” poetry to read and digest; the context was rooted in the 1970s, at the height of apartheid, but the language, for some of my fellow students, was unduly harsh towards white South Africans.
They protested, and claimed he was opening up old wounds by giving us the poetry. What’s done is done. Can’t we move on and stop blaming whites?
The professor responded by handing out photocopies of an article by the writer Zakes Mda, where Mda noted the irony that those calling for an end to the discussion about apartheid -- which ended just a few years ago and affected us all with its ongoing legacy -- are the very people who insist on having a Holocaust memorial every year.
The lecture hall lit up with emotion.
Is there a moral relativism as to how anniversaries are marked?
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