The destruction of the World Trade Center and other attacks of September 11, 2001 have got to be some of the most horrendous acts of senseless violence ever to take place in the United States. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would paint those cowardly acts as honorable or noble. And yet, some high school students in Michigan — identified as Arab-Americans, no less — have been accused of doing just that.
Over the winter break, a group of 15 Arab-American Juniors at Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Michigan had sweatshirts made featuring the number 11 (they are the class of 2011), the school’s mascot (a Thunderbird), and the phrase “You can’t bring us down” on the back. The problem arises because the number 11 appears to have windows making it look much like the twin towers of the World Trade Center and the Thunderbird is flying directly towards the numbers. All in all, it certainly could be interpreted as depicting the attacks of 9/11 and even showing support for them.
In a statement on the school’s website, the principal wrote that “we noticed a group of male students wearing black sweatshirts (hoodies) with wordings on the front and back.” The sweatshirts were confiscated and the students were dealt with. “After talking with the students,” said Principal Hassane Jaafar, “it became clear that there were no intentions of harm rather a very inappropriate and distasteful attempt to draw attention to themselves and to the class of 2011.”
Of course, right-wing racists are going bonkers over this, spewing hate and racial slurs all over the place. I’m not so sure that’s warranted, however. I know that when I was a teenager, I did a lot of stuff that, in hindsight, wasn’t wise or appropriate or even in good taste — although I certainly thought I was being pretty funny and clever at the time. So while I certainly agree that this was in poor taste and a bad idea all around, I think, as a school spokesman said, the students “just were not thinking.”
Photo: Click on Detroit/WDIV 4