The Teddy Bear of Doom

Have we all heard of this case by now? Even if you are living in an igloo, you must know of this case. The bruhaha over it will simply not quit. English teacher goes to Sudan to teach. (First mistake; who willingly goes into a war-zone and then…) Her students name the class teddy bear allegedly after one of the kids in the class, Muhammad, also the name of oh, only our Beloved Prophet Sallallaahu alayhi waSallam. (…and then, wise English teacher does not foresee trouble, throws caution to the wind, and lets them do this…) Some other staff member at the school hears of this, and raises hell and now said English teacher is languishing in some horrid Sudanese jail, thanking her lucky stars that the initial sentence of 40 lashes has been expedited. (…what kind of employee does not know her fellow employees well enough to not know what will give an excuse to who to get you into a big pile of doodoo?)

And now the world is giving us the same old lines about how intolerant and inflexible Muslims are ad hominem.

I would like to know what would happen in the following scenario.

Muslim teacher, let’s say Sudanese born and raised, comes to the United States to settle. Gets a job as a teacher. One day, the kids in her class, all Americans, pull down the flag that is in the corner of classroom. Teacher figures, “well, there are no Quranic/Biblical/religious verses on the flag, it’s just a piece of cloth, and it’s their own flag, I am not even a citizen yet, what the heck, let them.” Fellow teacher in the neighboring classroom catches wind of this, tells the principal, “Oh my God, that woman is teaching the children to hate America, to hate our freedoms!” What do you think will happen?

a) Principal will say “Oh, that is her right of freedom of expression, no big deal! She is teaching the kids another point of view, expanding their horizons, etc.”
b) Principal will investigate to determine who really did what and understand the Sudanese lady’s logic (or lack thereof).
c) Sudanese lady will be up on terrorism charges before you can say “lickety split we are fair and balanced so bite this!”

Mad props if you picked c. In addition, said fictional teacher would wait in the system for a year or two before her case is tried, and in the event of a guilty verdict, the verdict won’t be 6 months + 40 lashes + a fine, later commuted to 15 freaking days. And lastly, while Americans may not protest in the streets with knives and what-not, we would definitely see a spike in hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs. And that is our version of fair and balanced, and anybody who doesn’t like it can just go back to where-ever they came from! Just saying.

By the way, it would be extremely unlikely for an immigrant to this country to not learn, abide by, and appreciate the norms that are valued in this country. My parents taught us to pay due respect to the American flag, even though the whole concept of flags being a big deal was completely and utterly foreign to them. Likewise, how difficult would it be for an educator to learn and abide by the cultural norms in one of the most sensitive countries on the planet? Seriously. By all means, release her, stop calling for her head on a platter, but enough with the “Oh, we’re so surprised they would respond like this, we had no idea this would happen, and it’s not even her fault!” Just stop and think for a moment or two: if the shoe were on the other foot, what would you really do/say?

Now, can the world just lay the teddy bear to rest already?!


About Digital Nomad

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5 Responses to The Teddy Bear of Doom

  1. Oh maaan. Pretty dumb for a teacher. I think in today’s climate, you don’t even need a cross-cultural relations class to teach you that certain lines you don’t cross in certain countries. But then, most teachers are dumb, and she definitely shoulda taken a couple classes, or better yet, stayed in Britain sipping her tea while the kids are at recess…! 😛

  2. queenie says:

    Yeah, the teacher should have been more culturally sensitive. And your analogy works. I can’t believe everyone is making such a big deal out of this either.

  3. Digital Jewel, I’m getting an image of her sitting in front of a fireplace with a Royal Albert teacup and a plate of fine butter biscuits…weird. Poor thing would have been safer for sure.

    queenie, It’s like really, enough already! Grrrr!

  4. mehru says:

    To be honest, this is the first I’m hearing of this teddy bear issue but then again, i’m not missing much if it’s same story said in fifty different ways…Lord, when will people get a clue?! Fingerpointing’s easy enough for some people but will they EVER learn to look at themselves?

  5. mehru, never and no, in answer to your questions. And lucky you that you were probably too busy to notice this. It seemed like I couldn’t get away from it; everywhere I turned (or clicked), it was the topic of the day. And then my mom saw an article in the LA Times, and was like, “Did you hear about this? 😮 ” It was the last straw for me, and I snapped. So you finally got to hear of this.

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