An odd lesson from a Common Core world history class is teaching Florida high school students that terrorists generally suffer from “low self-esteem” and a “need to belong” which is why they join groups who kill in the name of religion.
The Global Dispatch obtained the lesson plan for the course, “Invisible Warfare,” which is taught via Florida Virtual School, the first online public high school in the country.
Besides suggesting sympathetic psychological traits of terrorists, the lesson states that passages from the Bible “could be used to justify the slaughter of men.”
The Dispatch critically noted how the lesson seems to first define a fundamentalist, then makes a link to “distorted beliefs” of terrorism, followed by a comparison to Islam, “which softly could imply Christianity may be affecting (therefore causing) Muslim extremism.”
From the lesson plan:
Religious fundamentalists can be particularly dangerous because many ideas that were fundamental to a religion at its founding are often incompatible with the modern world. For example, some passages in the Bible could be used to justify the slaughter of men, women, and children in ways we have difficulty understanding today. Would anyone condone this now? How would you react to someone who insisted that holding these beliefs was fundamental to Christianity?
Now consider how this type of fundamentalism has affected Islam. The word jihad means “struggle” in Arabic. To modern Muslims, jihad has been interpreted to mean a few different types of struggle: the struggle to live the Muslim faith, the struggle to build a strong Muslim community of believers, and the struggle to defend their faith. In the late 20th century, some Islamic fundamentalist groups reinterpreted the last of those struggles to mean a “holy war” against non-Muslims. In some cases this concept has been used to encourage Muslims to fight against imperialism. But more recently, it has been used for far more insidious purposes, such as the murder of civilians in the United States and around the world.
However, a spokeswoman for the school, Tania Clow, told FoxNews.com:
Yes, the Bible is referenced, but only as an example of how some passages may no longer be compatible with the modern world, prompting students to think about whether the ideas would be condoned today. The lesson does not suggest that there is a link between Islam and Christianity as fundamentalist groups.
Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, disagreed and told Fox the lesson does indeed make an unfair comparison between Christian and Islamic fundamentalists. “Fundamentalist Christians pray for people, they pray for their own members who convert to another religion,” Donohue said. “Fundamentalist Muslims will kill you. So, right off the bat, the equation is pernicious.”
Moving back to the psychological issues of terrorists, the lesson plan reads, “Common traits that psychologists have found in terrorists are that they are often risk-takers and many suffer from low self-esteem. Sometimes joining a terrorist group provides these individuals with a sense of belonging.”
Fox News’ psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow weighed in with his thoughts on whether “low self-esteem” could drive someone to become a terrorist suicide bomber:
Much more in the way of psychiatric disorder is required to create a terrorist than just low self-esteem. The real key is a failure of empathy, and while it might be true that many terrorists have low self-esteem, there are lots of people with low self-esteem that are either depressed, homeless, or are in relationships with people that abuse them – but not terrorists.
Worth noting: Because the lesson is part of the federal Common Core standards, Florida Virtual School teachers cannot alter or change the text of the lesson plan.