A Student’s Primer on Terrorism

Exactly one month after the following lesson plan was first posted on the Internet, we have received many comments from people all over the country and in other parts of the world – all of whom were pleased with the ultimate objective of the lesson as well as the useful information. We have also received some suggestions for changes – most of which are reflected on today’s date. One comment that needs to be addressed upfront is that some Americans may not appreciate or be ready for the organizing theme, What is one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
We want to be perfectly clear about his lesson – it is not intended to justify or in any way defend the tragedy and grief Americans and other citizens of the world have suffered. Rather, this lesson plan is purely an educational device – one that is organized around this well-worn phrase about terrorism versus freedom fighting. The point is not that whoever committed this atrocious act against human kind is a freedom fighter, but that those persons perceive themselves to be fighting for some type of freedom. We need to understand this about those who are our sworn enemies!
Students should understand that terrorism is not universally defined throughout the world and that different people and different nations define terrorism differently. Thus, when we discuss the horrific consequences of the September 11th tragedy, it is important for students to think about why other people and other nations might hate the United States so much that they would commit such a horrendous crime.