Middle East studies in the News
Bad Children's Books, More Bad Pastors, and Stranger Things [on Golbarg Bashi]
by Jim Swift
J is for Jihad, and S is for Stupid Children's Books. As a new father, I have already seen the crazy amount of stupid products made for children. The biggest offending category is actually children's books, many of which are terrible. Some are just poorly written, but others are worse: They are political. Sure, books are an easy way to subtly convey values to toddlers. (Though, outsourcing this to others' writing seems like lazy parenting ...)
Worse than the subtly political books are those that are nakedly partisan. And for some reason, publishers and authors pointlessly send us copies as if we frequently critique them in the the print magazine. We don't.
Books like Why Mommy is a Democrat, and The Adventures of Pepe and Pede (seriously) got some competition this week with the Internet uproar over P is for Palestine. Here's the author on why this book, for children, is necessary.
But the author, Golbarg Bashi, a Pace history professor and former Rutgers Iranian-studies instructor, told an audience at a bookstore reading Saturday that she "came up with the idea for this book after I couldn't find a book about Palestine for children."
Never mind that you can't have a discussion about Israel and Palestine without discussing a whole host of topics that are age-inappropriate for toddlers. Bash addresses this, in part, with: "I is for Intifada, Arabic for rising up for what is right, if you are a kid or grownup!"
Uhhhhhhhhh. Moving on, the author pitches her book this way:
The simple story of Palestine is today shrouded in convoluted misinformation and contested narratives. But at the heart of the matter stands a proud people with a compelling truth which sustain their historic struggles to tell their story of dispossession to the world. Our P is for Palestine is a modest step in that direction.
Furthermore, children the world over are increasingly exposed to a barrage of psychologically damaging disinformation that violates the sanctity of their young life and compromises their trust in the world. In this book we tell the story of Palestine in a manner that enriches their hope in our future. As a result, P is for Palestine follows in the footsteps of great many alphabet books about countries, customs and the beauty of the world around us in good 'ol English and other European languages!
Yes, the way to avoid psychological damage in toddlers is to teach them about the Intifada and conflicts between Israel and Palestine.
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