Steve Fox worked as an editor at washingtonpost.com for 10 years. He was the national/political editor on 9/11 and during its aftermath. He lives in Gaithersburg, Md., with his family.
In his piece, Fox wrote about his 8 y/o son coming home with a book he had checked out of the school library about 9-11. The had a conversation about it, and here’s how it went (emphasis added):
I asked my son why he had picked out the book.
He said: “I wanted to read about it because you never talk about it and I wanted to see if you’ve lied about it.”
Lie is a big word with eight-year-olds, especially ones with Sean’s black-and-white view of the universe.
I told him that yes, Mom and Dad had avoided talking to him about it because it dredges up old emotions (the sex talk will be easy). I told him I agree with the headline of the book. The world has changed. And now I was facing what I had hoped to avoid: How do I tell my kid about the world before and the new world he’s growing up in now?
He listened. Eight-year-olds rarely do that. He locked in on the book’s facts, which said that 5,000 were killed in the attacks. I told him it was closer to 3,000. The numbers seemed to overwhelm him. The book had many chilling photos from that day.
He asked what “hijackers” meant. He asked how the planes could have been taken over by strangers. We talked about the Pennsylvania crash and “heroes.” I told him about how I had seen smoke coming from the Pentagon….
He asked about Palestinians and Israelis. He asked, “How come everyone hates us?”
I told him that we didn’t know how many people hated us before that day. That it’s gotten worse since September 11. That we lost a chance to make it better.
He said he hated President Bush. “He doesn’t care about the people of this country and he doesn’t want to hear what people have to say. I even tried to help him when I sent him an e-mail and he didn’t respond back to me,” said my son.
“I would use the f-word if I saw him,” Sean said. I had spoken to him about not using that word before; this time I just let it go.
I realize now that I can’t shield him from the truth anymore. He’s in third grade. He knows about 9/11 now. But he still believes in Santa Claus.
And thanks to his father, he now knows it’s ok to “hate” people he disagrees with, and ok to say the “f” word – depending on who he uses it on.
My point is, of course, not to pick on Fox specifically but to use the conversation as a springboard for a larger point: I believe Fox isn’t unique in his viewpoint on this. We get bombarded everyday with messages from liberals preaching against ‘hate’ and promoting a ‘let’s all get along’ attitude, but what kind of message does it send – and not just to kids – when you say that it’s wrong to hate ‘oppressed’ people but condone hating and cursing others as long as it’s someone whose views don’t mesh with yours? How’s that for liberal hypocrisy?