If you don’t like the way a school is run in the US of A, what’s the worst thing you’d be willing to do? Historically, the 1974-1975 fight over textbooks in West Virginia might have been the bloodiest in this country. But sad news from Nigeria updates us on a much more brutal sort of educational culture war.
Conservative militants in Northeast Nigeria yesterday attacked a remote boarding school, killed the male students, and dispersed the females. Why? The group, Boko Haram, believes that the national curriculum taught at the school teaches corrupt Western values. Indeed, the group’s name translates roughly as “Western Education Is a Sin.”
According to teachers, the militants attacked the school in Buni Yadi and shot dead at least 29 students, wounding another 11. The militants told female students to leave, to abandon education and to get married.
This is not the first of these school attacks. According to the BBC, Boko Haram has killed almost 300 people in similar school attacks this year, thousands since 2009.
All the more reason for us to speak carefully when we disagree with one another about schools, culture, and politics. Language that dehumanizes the opposition can lead all too quickly to this sort of pogrom.