Angry Mom Misses Point on 9/11 Quiz Question


A Texas mom was all fired up, reports Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, over a question her child faced on a quiz that’s part of a “controversial curriculum” already under fire because of other exercises, including one that labels the Boston Tea Party as an “act of terrorism.”

The question, she says, places unfair blame on America for causing the terror attacks that left 3,000 people dead on September 11, 2001. A lot of people take this view: to in any way insinuate that America has any responsibility in precipitating the terror attacks is viewed almost as some sort of treason.

I’ve never understood that.

The specific question read as follows:

Why might the United States be a target for terrorism?
A. Other people just don’t like Americans.
B. Decisions we made in the United States have had negative effects on people elsewhere.
C. Terrorists hate everyone.
D. None of the above.

The answer labeled as correct is B.

The mom posted a photo of the quiz on her Facebook page and complained on Corpus Christie NBC affiliate KRIS-TV:

“I’m not going to justify radical terrorists by saying we did anything to deserve that — over 3,000 people died”

Science tells us, as most of us learned in middle school, that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In terms of terrorism, the “equal” part may be out the window, but terrorists don’t generally target people they believe to be on their side.

The fact that America has an ideology different from terrorist regimes can only mean that American policy — if we are living up to the ideologies we hold so dear — will reflect that difference. And those with whom we disagree may well find that those ideology-based policies don’t accomplish what they want accomplished.

For a terrorist, there’s not much more than that needed to make them want to attack. Hate doesn’t generally take time to think things through coherently.

Then again, some parents don’t necessarily take that time, either.

This isn’t a matter of “placing blame,” but rather a matter of trying to understand the motivation required to perform such a cowardly, unimaginable act. The question in no way implies America deserved 9/11; instead, it merely points out that even with “the American Way,” there are consequences when people who disagree are affected by decisions we make for what is certainly, in our eyes, the right reasons.

There’s no other way around it if we’re being honest with ourselves.

And being honest with history.

By the way, as for the Boston Tea Party, if we’re still being honest, we surely can see that to the British (and the East India Company), the willful destruction of the tea was an act of terror. Even though it was done in political protest that reflected American ideals that would later be spelled out in our Constitution. Done for the right reason? From the American perspective, unquestionably; but an act of terror from their perspective nonetheless.

I think it’s a shame we’re so quick to vilify those truths we don’t like to acknowledge.


  1. I noticed a surge of McCarthyism after 9/11, which was an understandable, although unfortunate, reaction. This reaction was then molded into a trend by the Republican party during the 2008 campaign; I am sure you remember all the talk about how these or those people were not “real Americans”. It appears the flames fanned by the Tea Party are still going strong: unless you blindly subscribe to the notion of a God-blessed Christian America that can do no wrong, you are a traitor. I think much of it is based on the fact that “most people” have little interest in foreign policy – current or historical – and therefore any terrorist attack in the vein of 9/11 seems entirely unprovoked. The lack of understanding of global events of the past leads to the conclusion that Middle-Easterns – or better yet, Muslims as a whole – hate America just for the sake of, well, hatred.
    Provocation does not equal blame, nor does it equal justification; I do think it means participation. Being part of this world and an active player in geopolitical scenarios renders us (humans, Americans, Europeans, whatever) part of the problem as well as part of the solution. An understanding of any conflict from more than one side is important if we are to have any chance of preventing its repetition. It is regrettable that so many people equate understanding different points of view with agreeing with them, therefore putting an end to the discourse entirely.

  2. I think applying Newton’s 1st Law of motion in this case is stretching the metaphor a little too far.  That said, I think what is being observed here is that our own preconceptions and beliefs greatly influence how we see things. The Mom read the question as trying to assign culpability to the US and her citizens for the 911 attacks. The “correct” answer clearly tries to assign that culpability so I can see where she might get that idea. It would be similar to trying to justify a homicide because a neighbor was rude. It would never stand up in court, and it that should be common sense.
    The second example is more egregious to my thinking. By defining what our founders did as terrorism, the writer of the question is attempting to legitimize the actions of current day terrorists. Again, the two are simply not the same.

    1. TedtheThird I don’t agree that it’s assigning culpability, so much as explaining why there are those who’d act against us, at least to an extent. The bottom line is that you can’t justify terrorism, but no matter who you are or what you do, there will always be someone who disagrees with you.
      What some see as “acts of terrorism,” like the Boston Tea Party, for example, may well have been born out of a legitimate motive from those who committed the acts; this does not change the fact that to the people against whom the act was committed, it was terrorism. America’s worldview dictates that the Boston Tea Party was NOT terrorism because WE did it; the owners of the tea don’t see it from the same worldview.
      Those in a jihad against us see 9/11 as NOT an act of terror but the interpretation of their extremist views; that’s THEIR worldview. America does not share those views, therefore that same act the extremists see as “justified” isn’t justifiable to us.
      It’s more of an illustration of point of view rather than assigning blame.

  3. That same reaction she gave – that we didn’t do anything, is the same reason we as Americans aren’t welcomed everywhere. There’s a sense of entitlement and “we never do wrong” that seems to rear its ugly head when we go abroad or deal with anything overseas. 
    Honesty is definitely the key, but sometimes it’s hard to see the log in our own eye…

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.