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NJ School Apologizes for Calling ISIS a Terrorist Organization

When did it become offensive to call ISIS a terrorist group? It's high time we stop kowtowing to the clamoring of a vocal minority.

A middle school in New Jersey found itself in hot water and later issued an apology over a test question that accurately labeled ISIS as a terrorist organization. The controversy erupted at Schuyler Colfax Middle School in Wayne, New Jersey, where students were presented with a multiple-choice question aimed at identifying ISIS’s actions and objectives, which include committing acts of violence and seeking to impose a global rule under strict Islamic Sharia law.

The test drew fire from a group named Teaching While Muslim (TWM), which criticized the school for fostering what they called “anti-Muslim” sentiments. Their objection pointed to the portrayal of terrorism as linked to an Islamic state, arguing that this perpetuates a stereotype associating terrorism intrinsically with Islam and Muslims, and labeling it as part of “US and Zionist propaganda.”

What’s more perplexing is the school’s response. Instead of standing by an educational criterion that clearly delineates a terrorist group for its globally recognized violent acts, the school capitulated, apologizing for the question, describing it as “offensive” and contrary to their values of inclusivity and cultural sensitivity. It’s concerning that the school chose not to uphold a factual standard in its curriculum due to pressure over perceived sensitivities. Since when did it become offensive to call a terrorist group exactly what it is—a terrorist organization? It’s high time we stop kowtowing to the clamoring of a vocal minority intent on dictating the narrative for the silent majority. 

When Our Educational Institutions Bend to the Will of the Vocal Minority, We Are in Trouble

This incident is a startling reflection of how fear of offending can lead to distortions of truth within educational settings. The fact that ISIS is indeed a designated terrorist organization responsible for numerous atrocities is not a matter of opinion but a well-documented fact recognized internationally. Yet, the school’s reaction to retract and apologize for teaching this fact is an alarming concession that outrightly undermines educational integrity.

It’s essential to understand that teaching about the harsh realities of world affairs and terrorist activities need not translate into prejudice against any faith. Schools can educate on these serious topics while still fostering an environment of respect and understanding towards all religions, including Islam. 

The retreat by the school underlines a broader societal challenge where the lines between critical education and cultural sensitivity are increasingly blurred. While it’s vital to approach teaching with respect to all cultural and religious backgrounds, it is equally important to maintain a commitment to factual accuracy, particularly when it comes to issues as severe as global terrorism. We must stand firm and call things by their true names without bending to the whims of those who would see our values compromised.

Robert B. Chernin

Robert B. Chernin

Robert is a longtime entrepreneur, business leader, fundraiser, and former radio talk show host. He studied political science at McGill University in Montreal and has spent over 25 years deeply involved in civic affairs at all levels. Robert has consulted on a variety of federal and statewide campaigns at the gubernatorial, congressional, senatorial, and presidential level. He served in leadership roles in the presidential campaigns of President George W. Bush as well as McCain for President. He led Florida’s Victory 2004’s national Jewish outreach operations as Executive Director. In addition, he served on the President’s Committee of the Republican Jewish Coalition.