The Miseducation of the West examines the ways in which educational institutions such as media and schools have shaped Western views of Islam. The nature of these messages tells readers as much, if not more, about Western self-images as they do about Islam and Islamic peoples. Quickly emerging is a Western perspective on the other. Westerners found easy justification for the colonial conquest of many Islamic lands. In the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries England, France, and to a lesser extent Russia colonized much of the Mulsim world with the United States entering the picture after World War II. Economic colonialization, the oil business, interference with various governments, and the way these events and people are represented in the formal curriculum of schools and the informal curriculum of the media are central dimensions of this work.
The contemporary expression of these stories involve the Bush administration’s and its conservative allies’ efforts to teach the nation about the true meaning of 9/11 and Islamic terrorism. In various reports, conservative organizations with close ties to the Bush White House, present forceful views of what historical concepts should be taught in U.S. schools. As Joe L. Kincheloe states in his thoughtful introduction, these efforts represent a return to a 1954 view of America as the bearer of the democratic torch to the anti-democratic forces of the world. A critical education must counter such tendencies and work to conceptualize 9/11 in a variety of contexts. The essayists in this book write with different voices from diverse viewpoints, contributing to a discussion that will not end for years to come.