Recently, the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) posted a video to their YouTube account from Amaarah DeCuir, a lecturer at American University. The video, which has since been removed without explanation, not only focused on "culturally responsive and inclusive lessons" to do with 9/11, but stated it was "not going to reproduce what's understood as American exceptionalism."
The video in question was titled "Culturally Responsive and Inclusive 9/11 Commemoration."
Notes from those who have seen the video highlight that there is an attempt to get rid of the idea of Muslim Responsibility for the 9/11 attacks. "We’re not going to reproduce a false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11. We’re just going to begin right there and name that there is no responsibility and therefore we’re not going to use this space to try and untangle this," DeCuir says at one point, as highlighted by Parents Defending Education.
DeCuir tells teachers not to use "terrorist," but rather "name it as an attack caused by extremists." She also tells teachers, "Do not use this day to amplify the extremists themselves and don’t use this day to amplify their acts on 9/11. You name what happened and that’s it," claiming "there’s no need to provide details."
"As teachers, it’s our responsibility to determine the relevant details of 9/11," DeCuir claims. She later says in the video that "Teaching is a Political Act."
The video also advises teachers on how to discuss the aftermath of 9/11, including immigration policies, and to mention Trump's 2017 travel restriction ban.
DeCuir also emphasizes that teachers should "not demand students to stand and condemn 9/11," which she calls "highly inappropriate."
In a slide of the video titled "Webinar In's & Outs," some of those items which are "OUT" include "False assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11" and "U.S. foreign policy analysis" as well as "American exceptionalism."
In a statement, VDOE tried to distance any involvement:
"This webinar was part of a series intended to help teachers create welcoming and affirming classrooms for all students and in this specific case to provide support to Muslim students, who may be subject to bullying around the anniversary of 9/11," Executive Director of Communications Ken Blackstone said. "As stated in the presentation, the speaker made it clear that her views and opinions do not reflect the views and opinions of the VDOE. As such, any statements made in the webinar are not to be attributed to the Virginia Department of Education."
While DeCuir did make such remarks in her opening, the video was uploaded to the VDOE YouTube account before it was taken down. And, as Parents Defending Education noted:
However, earlier this year Virginia Governor Northam announced that she is a member of the state’s Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Education Practices Advisory Committee. Also, the state education agency’s communications officials posted the video, titled, “Culturally Responsive and Inclusive 9/11 Commemoration,” on the agency’s official YouTube channel, and it features the Virginia Department of Education “EdEquity VA” logo and name on its first slide, with each slide in the presentation carrying the agency’s official logo. The agency is advertising the video as part of its “EdEquity VA” webinar series. In addition, DeCuir thanked Virginia Education Secretary Atif Qarni for his support. She said she presented him with her recommendations before presenting the remarks to the public.
Asra Nomani, the vice president of strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education spoke to Fox News about the video presentation.
Here is @FoxNews @JessicaChasmar’s original story, chronicling the disturbing + irresponsible instructions in the @VDOE_News webinar, telling teachers to call the 9/11 hijackers “extremists,” not “terrorists,” and directing them to censor mention of Islam. https://t.co/vkInS5eLLe— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) September 2, 2021
As Jessica Chasmar reported:
Asra Nomani, vice president of strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education, and a Virginia resident, blasted the presentation as "hijacking history" and "sanitizing the truth of the 9/11 attack" in a statement to Fox News.
"As an American Muslim parent and journalist who has investigated Islamic terrorism for the past 20 years, it’s offensive, immoral, unethical, manipulative and dangerous," Nomani said. "The Virginia Department of Education is woke-washing the 9/11 attacks. Speaker Amaarah DeCuir instructs teachers to erase the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were motivated by an extremist interpretation of Islam. Decuir advises teachers to talk about ‘extremists’ behind the 9/11 attacks, without identifying them as Muslim extremists or calling them out as ‘terrorists.’ It would be like teaching about the Holocaust without discussing Nazi Germany."
"What’s more," said Nomani, "the Virginia Department of Education is promoting a victim narrative for Muslims by instructing teachers to focus on ‘anti-Muslim racism’ that allegedly sprang out of 9/11. The Virginia Department of Education is taking a page out of the playbook of truth-deniers within the Muslim community who don’t want to own up to the real problem of Muslim extremism, but meanwhile dedicate lessons to ‘white supremacy.’ The Virginia Department of Education is failing students – and America – and needs to immediately remove this irresponsible instruction and apologize for endorsing this dangerous rewriting of history a platform."
Nomani has been raising awareness about the video for days now over Twitter and to media.
At @DefendingEd, we got many reports from parents disturbed by the insensitive 9/11 training by @VDOE_News from speaker @amaarah_decuir. They're correct to be concerned. The Virginia Department of Education is woke-washing 9/11. It is rewriting history.https://t.co/S36oBIeL0D— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) September 1, 2021
A win for parents! You raised the alarm @DefendingEd. You told us @VDOE_News @VASecofEdu @DrJamesLane @GovernorVA hijacked the truth of 9/11 with a disturbing webinar. Listen to breaking news from @LelandVittert, as we speak about “‘Woke-washing’ 9/11.”https://t.co/jNXHmNVKxR— Asra Q. Nomani (@AsraNomani) September 3, 2021
Other videos in the EquityVA webinar series from this year have included titles such as "Schools as Racial Justice Engines: Trauma Informed Care for Racial Trauma and Strategies to Support the Unique Needs of Black Students in Schools," "Grading for Equity: A Look at Alternative Grading Practices that Center Equity," and "Supporting Transgender Students: An Overview of the Transgender Model Policy and Strategies to Support Trans Students."
DeCuir's tweets are currently protected.