An American soldier overseas is fuming over letters he received from Brooklyn middle-school children accusing GIs of destroying mosques and killing civilians in Iraq.
Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.
That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.
"It's hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don't need to be getting letters like this," Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey. "If they don't have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all."
One Muslim boy wrote: "Even thoe [sic] you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?" His letter, which was stamped with a smiley face, went on: "I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques."
The letters were written as a social-studies assignment.
Defender of America or Mosque-Destroyer?
War is ugly, and one can argue that sixth graders should be exposed to that fact and, if they can absorb it, the policy debate over the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq.
But policy is not set by PFC's in Korea (where, incidentally, there are no mosques to destroy). Those guys and gals are plain old American heroes sitting on their butts on the other side of the world waiting for a maniac to prove himself as such.
Putting aside the whole "indoctrination" issue (which in the grand scheme of things should most definitely not just be "put aside"), why target poor PFC Jacobs? Brainwash your students by having them send nasty vitriol to Donald Rumsfeld -- some might argue that he actually deserves it.
But leave PFC Jacobs alone -- he deserves better. (And incidentally, as part of the all-volunteer military, PFC Jacobs is not only protecting the future of South Korea and America, but also a future without a draft. Go figure.)
Shame on the snivelling little brats (by which I of course mean the teacher and principal, not the students).
UPDATE #1: The NYC Board of Education is formally apologizing for the incident. On a tangent, however, they are digging in their heels over this travesty (mentioned in passing by me in this previous post). Meanwhile, more thoughts at Slant Point and The Moderate Voice.
UPDATE #2: The teacher has apologized as well. New York City's philosopher-king, meanwhile, demonstrates the depth of his wisdom:
"We have freedom of speech and you certainly cannot go around censoring what people want to write," Bloomberg said.
Translation: Public school teachers have a First Amendment right to indoctrinate their students by "not censoring them" into harassing a grunt soldier in Korea over U.S. military policy in Iraq. What a jackhole.