March 16, 2005
Vilification Of The U.S. Military At West Seattle High

Interviewing Iraq vet and Seattle-ite Terry Thomas yesterday morning on KVI-AM, Kirby Wilber highlighted the story of a horrendous, gross guerilla-theatre rehearsal reeking of anti-American, anti-military bias at West Seattle High School. The rehearsal was being staged, when into the school's theatre came invited and ambushed pro-Iraq War speakers. They were arriving for what had been billed to them as an assembly-style speaking forum only, airing both sides of the debate on the U.S. presence in Iraq.

Today Susan Paynter picks up the story in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, albeit without mentioning, as Thomas did on Wilber's show, that there were an awful lot of adults (from exactly where?) play-acting in the rehearsal. Here's some of what was going on.

Three invited pro-military speakers were shocked last Friday when they arrived for a West Seattle High student assembly to confront a theater stage strewn with figures costumed as Iraqi men, women and children splashed with blood.

It was a warm-up for the "Iraq Awareness Assembly" so no students except the actual actors saw the skit before the military guests complained to principal Susan Derse and she put a stop to it. And here comes the crucial part: no teachers or advisers were on hand or evidently even aware of the content although that part is one of several things still under investigation.

...For Nadine Gulit of Operation Support Our Troops, the spectacle was sickening. She had been asked by student organizers to provide three speakers and she delivered. "I was told there would be three on each side. No debates. No rebuttal," she said in the e-mail she fired off to members of the Seattle School Board. "At no time was I referred to a teacher nor did a teacher contact me. As I walked into the theater there was a young girl wearing a mask and crawling on the floor. And, over the loud speaker (someone) was denouncing our military, saying 'Americans are killing my family!' "

Not a good thing for "impressionable students who may have family serving Iraq," Gulit told student organizers. "Two of our speakers had returned from Iraq and Afghanistan."

With her speakers in tow, Gulit saw the bloodied figures on the floor. Stage right were students in orange Abu Ghraib-style prison jumpsuits, hoods over heads, pounding on plates with spoons. Next, a student dressed as a grieving Iraqi woman knelt near a bloody body while, over a microphone, a narrator wailed the story of civilians shot, kicked and beaten by American soldiers.

Seattle's flailing, public schools are seeking to "stave off bankruptcy" of more than one kind. It's a disgrace that time best used for core subject mastery is squandered to advance an anti-American, anti-military political agenda. Please note that I am talking about the loaded, unbalanced depiction of our country's role, and our military's essence in Iraq; not the different, and entirely acceptable expression of opposition to the Iraq War. Both sides were in fact aired at the speaking forum, which continued as planned, after the principal pulled the plug on the stealth "performance art" planned for the event.

A post-forum writing assignment on the war would have been a good idea, as opposed to politicized theatrics beforehand. As the State Superintendent of Public Instruction reports, only one-third of the West Seattle High School 10th graders tested last school year could pass all three mandatory sections (reading, writing, math) of the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL); which will be required for graduation as of 2008.

Then again, considering the move to broaden the use of "alternatives" to the WASL for students who can't pass, maybe guerilla theatre projects will become part of some "essential academic mastery" project portfolio for the many WSH students who can't hack the onerous "pen and paper" test due to the low "cultural competency" of the test designers.

Forty-one percent of WSH 10th graders failed the 03-04 WASL reading test; 51 percent failed writing; 60 percent failed math; 73 percent failed science.

The school, and probably the district as a whole, oughtta take a page from Etta Kralovec's book, "Schools That Do Too Much," and do away with sports and theater. I'd add school clubs and student groups to that list, too. Create an academics-focused school culture. Right now, the only thing most WSH students are getting is preparation for Seattle Central Community College.

FYI, if you can, show up tonight at Town Hall in Seattle to support Terry Thomas at "Veterans Reflect On The Iraq War." More details here from Sound Politics' Andy MacDonald.

Posted by Matt Rosenberg at March 16, 2005 10:32 AM | Email This
1. This does not surprise me. I work at a school that has a very high percentage of military famiies. I asked my third period class and had about one third respond as having a relative at war. I told them to thank their relatives for me and that all teachers are not morons some of us are very thankful that we have people wiling to go to war to protect us.

Posted by: Jeff Scott on March 16, 2005 10:57 AM
2. What do you want to bet that their percentage of 'students' that pass the assessment of student Learning is amongst the lowest in the state. Sounds like a bunch of 'banana condoms' to me. Which is my term for those who have learned no marketable skills in high school yet think they are destined to engage in one-way enlightenment of the benighted.

Posted by: JDH on March 16, 2005 11:09 AM
3. Not to defend the administators or teachers, but it sounds like they didn't have anything to do with it. They should be pretty embarrassed though. So if it was not officially sanctioned, the story ends up being that some people are A-holes. We knew this.

Posted by: CandrewB on March 16, 2005 11:12 AM
4. Was Headless Lucy in that skit too? SHe hasn't been seen posting in a while.

Posted by: VCRW on March 16, 2005 11:18 AM
5. Actually I would be surprised to learn that this entire sorry episode was NOT orchestrated by people who are quite active in other ‘progressive’ causes namely people who are also active in the Teachers Unions.

Posted by: JDH on March 16, 2005 11:28 AM
6. I know you wouldn't be surprised if this was sponsored by the teachers union JDH. But most people would be, and it wasn't.

Posted by: CandrewB on March 16, 2005 11:47 AM
7. If you listened to the interview, as I did, then you would know TEACHERS WERE INVOLVED in the entire process. TEACHERS gave advice and input and that was followed and incorporated into the "skit". That's straight from the lead student organizer who was being interviewed.

This student "leader" was also about as eloquent as one might expect from a student body with the low test scores Matt posted. When asked what sources students drew on for their depictions of American soldiers killing women and children he drew a complete blank. Worse was what he said on his own, without prompting- that they wanted to set a mood for people coming in to think and be receptive, so they knew they had to be provocative. Well, which is it laddie? Do you want the audience contemplative or provoked? Do you know the difference? Plainly he does not.

Worse than being sponsored by the teachers union, this was sponsored, aided, abetted and guided, by teachers themselves.

Shame on these teachers- and shame on their ignorant defenders as well.

Posted by: Chuck Miller on March 16, 2005 12:13 PM
8. CandrewB - I do not see how does "...but it sounds like they didn't have anything to do with it." in any way appears to defend the teachers. It is disgraceful that there were no teachers present or aware of what was going on. Aren't children meant to be supervised at school? The school is responsible for the idiotic behavior of the children for whom they are responsible!

Posted by: Fred on March 16, 2005 12:13 PM
9. It's alarming to see the political climate in Washington isn't really that much different than it is here in California. The reason I say alarming is that my wife and I have been considering a move to Washington in order to escape the liberal/leftist insanity that grips CA and the outrageous cost of living in our area (SF Bay Area). I've been reading Sound Politics recently (which I discovered via Captain's Quarter's during your excellent coverage of the election fraud surrounding the race for governor) to get a better understanding of what the political climate is like in Washington and specifically the Seattle area. My wife and I are both right-of-center conservatives who prefer common sense government over reactionary politics. I'm a little alarmed to find it's not really all that different in Washington than here in CA, where leftist ideology and a seething hatred of anything smelling of conservatism prevails. We don't want our two year old daughter to grow up in this type of climate. We don't want her to enter the CA public school system where leftist ideological indoctrination is seemingly more important than leaning the academic fundamentals. What I see here is a little discouraging.

Posted by: Kurt on March 16, 2005 12:13 PM
10. Chuck - didn't see your post before I posted. That is almost more scary!

Posted by: Fred on March 16, 2005 12:15 PM
11. CandrewB, you're an apologist weasel and pathetic worm. Anytime someone prefaces a statement with "not to defend..." it probably means they are about to defend. But let's assume for a moment that you're right in saying that the teachers and administrator had nothing to do with it. What is that saying about the quality of our public schools that they are so unaware they don't even know that something of this magnitude is going on in the auditorium nor do they have the authority and teaching ability over their students to instill some sort of self discipline. This is all pretty much a moot point however because they DID know what was going on. As Major Thomas pointed out, there were several adults partaking in the skit and if they weren't part of school staff or authorized to be on campus(which may be the case) what does that say about our security precautions on campuses? With all the crazies out there schools are suppose to have policies in place to prevent them from entering campuses unannounced and unknown.
This is the MOST pathetic story I have heard in a long time and I feel sick when I hear about it right along with Nadine Gulit. Seeing folks do things like this down at Westlake or Greenlake it's still pretty tragic but at least my tax dollars aren't going to it and, even more important, it's not as likely to corrupt young minds by appearing to be sanctioned by people they are suppose to trust, teachers.
It's really a damn good thing I wasn't there to witness it myself. I'm not sure I would have been able to hold the same decorum as Major Thomas and his fellow soldiers did upon witnessing it.

Posted by: Mark Griswold on March 16, 2005 12:19 PM
12. Kurt, stay where you are. Stefan is a transplant from SF and will tell you in an instant that this is definitely more liberal than SF and probably the most liberal city in America (and, judging by my world travels, probably in the top 20 worldwide). It's really not much of a stretch when we "menshivics" refer to it as the Soviet Republic of Seattle.

Posted by: Mark Griswold on March 16, 2005 12:38 PM
13. I recently reviewed the new Marine Corp requirements -- it is quite possible that a majority of Seattle (public school) students COULD NOT QUALIFY on the math, reading, or morals section.

Posted by: Lew on March 16, 2005 12:48 PM
14. It would be a prudent course of action to prepare for more of this in the future, the left is aware that their constituency is becoming more and more irrelevant. All these groups are headed up by a bunch of dried out old 60’s rejects and they are having trouble attracting young energetic replacements without resorting to ‘stealth tactics’ such as this.

Posted by: JDH on March 16, 2005 12:55 PM
15. Kurt, Seattle is not the entire state! There are a lot of sensible people here, and we did elect a Republican governor. (It's true that he's not in office, but there were enough real votes to elect him, proving that this state is not entirely stupidly liberal.)

As for the schools, Jeff Scott's a good teacher. Personally, however, we homeschool. A lot of Washingtonians do, and there are many organizations to help them. There are private schools too.

Whatever state you live in, however, public schools still use most of the same materials used in California.

Posted by: Shannon K on March 16, 2005 01:13 PM
16. "CandrewB, you're an apologist weasel and pathetic worm"

Your dogmatic interpretation of sentiment interferes with your ability to understand the post.

"Anytime someone prefaces a statement with "not to defend..." it probably means they are about to defend."

By using the word "probably" you leave your argument open to the possibility I wasn't defending them, don't you?

I said "it sounds like" they were not involved and I was defending against that possibility. The blog implied otherwise but offered no real proof.

Fred, you are absolutely right, which is why at the very least, those in charge should be embarrassed.

Now according to Chuck, teachers were involved. That actually is not as bad as having the whole union involved. If true, the teachers should be censured and suspended at the very least, now how's that defending them?

Posted by: CandrewB on March 16, 2005 01:14 PM
17. Kurt
Also, "East of the mountains" (as we say here in Western Washington), the political climate is dramatically different. There's a reason why Eastern Washington has attempted to secede at least once. Heck, there's a reason East King County is making its first attempt to secede right now! The dividing line can almost be drawn down the middle of Lake Washington.

There's also pockets of resistance in Western Washington, like Lewis County (my old stomping grounds), where even though they elect someone like Brian Baird(D), and have other leftward-leaning types in county government, the residents are extremely conservative (with most of the libs flocking around Centralia and Chehalis, naturally). I'm a big fan of Sheriff McCrosky down there -- big 2nd Amendment supporter, and big supporter of not giving prisoners at the Lewis County lockup squat except pink boxers :) ..but I digress

Posted by: Sid on March 16, 2005 01:29 PM
18. Teachers were involved. The student was clear on this.

This is better than if it was the teacher union behind it? As if there's any difference???!?! But really, yes, these people should all be suspended, expelled, and/or warned, depending on who they are and what their role was.

Nevermind the sedition/patriotism angle. Just apply normal liberal free (aka, politically correct) speech rules. These people stereotyped middle eastern people as a bunch of helpless, wailing towel-heads. (The inauthentic garb noted by our military man.) Stereotypes based on ethnicity are bigotry. Also according to the KVI interview there was not a single Iraqi or arabic person involved. Nobody asked if they excluded them but it sure didn't sound like they were very inclusive or respectful of diversity. Sounds to me like they all need weeks of sensitivity counseling, to say the least.

Posted by: Chuck Miller on March 16, 2005 01:36 PM
19. Kurt, from SF to Seattle to avoid the liberals? Too funny, you may want to look into Madison WI, Burlington VT, Taos NM or Boulder CO if you want to get away from liberals.

Posted by: CandrewB on March 16, 2005 01:53 PM
20. Chuck, I agree with your point on the absurdity of it all. Whenever I hear performance art I generally tune out right away. However, teachers being individuals are far freer to commit stupid acts. Now if the union sanctioned the sideshow it would be organizational suicide and much more serious, they are not that dumb.

Posted by: CandrewB on March 16, 2005 02:02 PM
21. Kurt,
Don't take our word for it.

Let's go to James Farley - FDR's (yes, FDR) Postmaster General AND head of the D party - upon his return from Washington state:

"There are 47 states and the Soviet of Washington."

And that was in 1936.

While I can't speak for those from that time period, I'd hazard to guess it's juuuuust a bit worse now.

Posted by: jimg on March 16, 2005 02:26 PM
22. Coming out of a city that celebrates Lenin with a statue, this is shocking because......?

Posted by: Mike on March 16, 2005 05:43 PM
23. Kurt;
Please move to WA. We need more conservatives here, who will vote the lunatics out of offices.
Thank You.

Posted by: E.W. on March 16, 2005 05:46 PM
24. Kurt.......don't do it!!!!! I'm from Marin County and this place makes Marin look conservative.It almost makes Berkeley look conservative...or at least less nutty. As much as we would all love to have more conservatives here to help save this all good concience I have to warn you not to do it.This place will drive you CRAZY.And it's not the rain's the nuts that live in Seattle especially......
Remember what Berkeley was like in the 70's ? Well Washington is way behind the curve [or in a time warp] and they think they just invented the communist's HORRIBLE. And it will never change because the Democrats have honed stealing elections down to a fine science.Also...if you have a car that you like and want to put a bumper sticker on it that is even remotely can expect to have your car [at least] keyed...that's the way they operate here in Enlightened-ville.
Sorry guys...I had to warn him. Okay...i'm fine now.....
Psssst....Kurt? run, KURT, run........

Posted by: christmasghost on March 16, 2005 06:30 PM
25. .....and I forgot to times it's like living in the communist version of a prairie home companion..........ya sure ya betcha......comrade

Posted by: christmasghost on March 16, 2005 07:16 PM
26. Well, it just goes to show ya: if you can't read, write, or solve a 4th grade math problem, you can always go into acting...

Posted by: ERNurse on March 16, 2005 07:19 PM
27. This is pathetic, there is no execuse for this behavior, from kids or teachers. Is this how the WEA is working hard for WA kids, to help them grow and achieve? The poor kids futures are being held hostage by liberal indoctrination. They do not stand a chance. The supposed group leader didnt have a clue as to why they were doing what they were... Major Thomas, I salute you, your service and the restraint you showed in that situation.


Posted by: Ranger06 on March 16, 2005 08:55 PM
28. I listened to an interview of the student who was heading this up. Every time he was caught in an inconsistancy, he changed his story. Then he resorted to saying that Major Thomas didn't object to the presentation while standing there. He seemed to think this meant it was all okay.

This whole situation is pathetic. The principal should be fired for allowing unauthorized activity to occur in her building. The students and teachers involved should issue apologies to Ms. Gulit and Major Thomas. If they refuse, they should be suspended.

Posted by: Janet S on March 16, 2005 09:26 PM
29. Christmasghost:

You said, ".....and I forgot to times it's like living in the communist version of a prairie home companion..........ya sure ya betcha......comrade"

I fear you are being redundant, after listening to Keillor's humorless rants on Republicans in general and GWB, in particular. I stopped listening. I also stopped donating.


Posted by: alaric on March 17, 2005 07:18 AM
30. ERNurse you should remember the immortal words of Sir Lawrence Olivier. When asked, "what is great acting?" He responded, "Acting is lying. Great acting is lying convincingly."


Posted by: alaric on March 17, 2005 07:23 AM
31. Sounds like the perfect event for blogsters to dive into to get at the true facts of what happened and with whose knowledge it happened. There's no doubt that some school - related supervision was involved.

Posted by: Rescue Me on March 17, 2005 10:39 AM
32. This is the tightest thing I've heard in a long time. This I can see is already doing a great deal against the war in Iraq. For I, as a senior, Its hard to deal with the fact that this september is going to be my only birthday that I will hate. its not the party, not the independence, but for the fact that at any moment in my schooling I could be pulled out of my life that I'm planning already to die over a stupid government all or nothing war. I hate war. I hate violence in general and I believe that anyone that would stoop as low as weapons to protect themselves with weapons just hasen't opened there minds wide enough to see that there are many options available, and that This war, heck war in general is bullshit and that our government, if it wants its people to have less crime, then they should set an example by not bieng so crime driven against their opponents laws and against the laws of war. I am one of the students that wished he went to west seattle just to be part of that anti-war act.

Posted by: Bob Preston on March 21, 2005 11:52 AM
33. "I believe that anyone that would stoop as low as weapons to protect themselves with weapons just hasen't opened there minds wide enough to see that there are many options available"

Tell that to the victims of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and countless other tin-pot dictators.

Obviously you haven't learned your history very well.

Posted by: Don Miguel on March 21, 2005 02:45 PM
34. Another prime example of the quality of education in Seattle. Mr. Preston is a Senior and still can't correctly write a paragraph. He needs to retake Freshman English and this time pay attention to spelling, grammer, and sentence structure. Pathetic!!

Posted by: IMHO on March 21, 2005 03:19 PM
35. Don Miguel, to say this kid hasn't learned his legitimate history very well carries the implication that it was taught to him, or at least presented to him, put in front of him.
Do you really think so?
Can anybody get this dumb by accident?
He is the victim of deliberate lies, educational malpractice.
He thinks he knows things, knows more than grownups, knows more than scholars, and is morally superior to them all.
How on earth would an eighteen-year-old come to those conclusions if he hadn't been taught them?
As to English...I guess we can just cry.

Posted by: Richard Aubrey on March 22, 2005 01:19 PM
36. Richard,

I stand corrected.

If there was one thing I did right with my kids, it was to emphasize the need to know and understand history since they learned to read. I rarely discussed politics with them, but told them to read everything they could on a subject and make up their own minds.

So when my son, at a younger age than little Bob Preston, told me it was his duty to join up when he was of age, I knew he had learned the lessons of history.

It is too bad so many kids like Bob are being brainwashed now before than even go to college.

Posted by: Don Miguel on March 23, 2005 06:05 PM
37. If you want to really know the truth; the truth is this type of society is doomed, it's over. The only thing you can do is pick a side, and that side should be with the new NPSM movement. It may sound bad but in the end the president of this organization knows what he is doing.

JW. current member of NPSM

Posted by: J_W_ on May 20, 2005 04:24 PM
38. I am Saddened and appaulled that my old Alma Mater has put on such an anti American Play. I will NOT support the school system that allowed such a waste of our precious resourses to display such garbage. I would encourage all people to withhold any support and money to an institution that has left academics as a passing thought and encourages mindless plays by people that have not a clue of what they are doing or saying.

Posted by: George Kelley on June 2, 2005 05:21 PM
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