Salem Utah students draw ISIS recruitment posters
Ninth grader Mikalia Langston's homework assignment.

The junior high school I attended covered propaganda in its history curricula, and my teachers never once asked me to draw German Nazi Party posters.

(Laughing) But thanks to a first year Salem, Utah middle school teacher, about 60 students not only learned how to draw Islamic State (ISIL or ISIS) recruitment posters, but the kids may also have received an early induction to the US government’s terrorist watch list!

According to Fox13, the teacher attempted to help the students understand “extremists’ use of propaganda” by instructing them to make terrorist recruitment posters.

Ninth grader Mikalia Langston approached the assignment in a way I’m sure most of her classmates did: she googled the phrase “How to recruit for ISIS.”

I tried to let this assignment sink in for a moment, and I still don’t get it.

Aside from the real risk that any Salem Junior High School student who typed “How to recruit for ISIS” in a search engine will have likely grabbed the attention of the US National Security Agency’s panoptic e-dragnet, I can see how these kids received a hidden lesson in propaganda and terrorism.

For example, American propaganda in the 1980s called Afghanistan’s Mujahideen “freedom fighters” as long as they fought against the communist Soviet Union. When many of those freedom fighters became the terrorist-branded Taliban, the propaganda machine began to call them “extremists.”

What the spin masters never mentioned is that these new extremists have always been extremists …

Anti-Communist propaganda helped to justify the late South Africa President Nelson Mandela’s place on the US terrorist watch list during the late1980s for opposing South Africa’s repressive, apartheid government. The South Agrica regime happened to be a US ally in the cold war. He was removed from the list in 2008.

2008. That’s 18 years after being released from prison in South Africa; the same amount of time since his heroric reception in the form of a ticker tape parade in New York City, amidst heavy federal and local security; 15 years after winning a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in ending South Africa’s oppressive regime, 14 years after he was elected President; five years prior to transitioning from his earthly form.

And I’m sure Mandela would have remained a terrorist for — propaganda’s sake — if he continued to oppose the handful of rich family oligarchs who have run South Africa since the Western discovery of gold and diamonds in the region.

So when you think about it, Mikalia and her classmates’ received an important lesson about terrorism and propaganda. Do you see it?

The students’ shallow examination of terrorism in the form of an arts and crafts project which avoids to explore how the complex network economic, social and political factors contribute to terrorism’s birth actually explains how propaganda works …

song currently stuck in my head: “the light” – reel people feat. vanessa freeman [thinking about vanessa, who celebrated a birthday yesterday … ]

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