New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has a very different memory of post 9/11 than I do.
We took no bargain trips to the Virgin Islands.
Instead I remember standing with friends and relatives in front of the Islamic Community Center on the northwest side of Chicago to defend our Muslim neighbors from those who had made threats against them.
Anti-Muslim hatred was real then and continues to this day, fueled now with encouragement from Donald Trump.
Has Krugman lost his mind, his memory or does he just live in a bubble?
By misrepresenting the truth about 9/11 to justify a war framed as one against “Islamic terrorism,” how exactly did Bush calm prejudice?
I was teaching back then. They had just installed a climbing wall in the school’s gymnasium. I was asked to have some students paint a mural around the wall where it was being installed.
For a week after school I gathered buckets of paint and a dozen students. After talking about what would look best, we decided to paint clouds and stars.
Climbing the wall would take P.E. students to the sky!
The Physical Education teacher thought it would be a good idea to add a plane.
So we did.
The gymnasium also served as the lunch room and some lunch parents went nuts when they saw the plane. It was almost as it in their minds they imagined Osama bin Laden in the cockpit.
It seemed that everything we did was framed by fear of Islam and Muslims.
It was suggested I paint it over.
That wasn’t going to happen. I suggested to the principal that there was nothing wrong about painting an airplane in the sky of a mural for a climbing wall.
I even threatened to call a press conference in front of the school if it were painted over. The plane remained.
The good news was that it forced me to think about my Art curriculum and the fact that I had not included anything about Islamic art at any grade level.
So, that year I created a project that included interpreting the aniconic tradition of Islamic design.
Fourth grade was where I taught about architecture and the built environment. It was a perfect time and place to introduce the art of Islam.
I prepared tons of material about Muslim mosques.
I explained what aniconism means. No representations of the male or female form. The practice came from the Islamic prohibition of idolatry and in part from the belief that creation of living forms is God’s prerogative.
With protractor and colored pencils the students designed their interpretations of Islamic tiles.
The results were beautiful and I lined the hallway of our building with them.
It raised a few eyebrows.
I received phone calls.
No press conference was necessary.