<>"What is your most lofty aspiration? Death for the sake of Allah!"
That is the charming verse kindergarteners in a Hamas classroom chanted last week during their graduation ceremony. The girls dressed in butterfly costumes. The boys donned camouflage, black masks, green bandanas and toy semi-automatic rifles. The video aired by the Middle East Media Research Institute (www.memritv.org) features the children wielding swords and guns while mimicking paramilitary exercises.
And how are we preparing the children of the West to defend themselves against these little soldiers of Allah?
Scene 1: In New York City, one nursery school dragged 3-year-old toddlers to the office of Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx/Westchester/Rockland), where they sang "It's a Small World" around a 12-foot "Tree of Peace." The New York Press reported last week:
"The handmade tree, crafted by 17 children during pre-school class time, was a statement against American troops remaining in Iraq, and a call to pursue peaceful paths to end all world conflicts. This gift, however, seemed more like a Trojan horse, designed to gain an invitation inside so that the children's far-left leaning parents could rail against the war and the congressman's initial vote in support of it."
The children's teacher, Valerie Coleman-Palansky, defended the stunt thusly: "I think it's appropriate for 3-year-olds to know that the world needs to be a peaceful place for everybody to live in and a safe place for everybody to live in."
Perhaps it's time for Ms. Coleman-Palansky to acquaint herself with the Palestinian Mickey Mouse. The chant of the little jihadists drowns out the Disneyfied reverie:
"What is your most lofty aspiration? Death for the sake of Allah!"
Scene 2: I have a pet peeve. It goes beyond the antiwar indoctrination rampant in American schools. At the playground and at the mall, I see 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds walking around with pacifiers in their mouths. Kids old enough to feed and dress themselves. Kids old enough to figure out the remote control and cell phone. Standing upright, suckling on brightly colored binkies.
Where are the parents to yank the rubber from their mouths and force them to grow up? When did child pacification usurp the responsibility of child-rearing?
Scene 3: America is not alone in immersing its future generations in the culture of coddling. British educators have now determined that "asking pupils to put their hands up when they think they know the answer to a question in class could make quiet children fall behind," according to the London Telegraph. To spare students from this awful terror, the British Department of Education is now recommending that children be given 30 seconds of "thinking time" before being asked to answer or told to discuss questions in pairs before answering. Instead of teaching students to conquer their shyness and stand up for themselves, educators will be encouraged to pamper them in emotional bubble wrap.
On a separate front, British schools will be administering "happiness tests" to children as young as 4 to ensure high self-esteem. The Telegraph reports that the government has spent 20 million pounds on an "emotional literacy initiative" that promotes activities such as "worry boxes," where pupils write down their anxieties and post them into a box, and "emotional barometers," which pupils can use to show classmates the strength of their feeling about a subject.
I return to the video of the Hamas kindergarten class. Their "emotional barometers" break through the roof as one toddler with plenty of self-esteem leads the rest in a bloodthirsty call and refrain:
"What is your path? Jihad!"
"What is your path? Jihad!"
Back in London, the tots are taking their mental health quizzes. Teacher asks: "How do you feel?" The sheeple answer: "I've been feeling optimistic about the future."
Pardon me while I go fill my worry box. It's a small world, after all.