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Amaarah DeCuir: Viral training video asks teachers NOT to call 9/11 killers 'terrorists'

The video did not do well for many parents who have expressed outrage at the attempt of 'woke-washing the 9/11 attacks' and 'hijacking history'
Amaarah DeCuir is a professorial lecturer at American University’s School of Education (Twitter/ @concetta8631)
Amaarah DeCuir is a professorial lecturer at American University’s School of Education (Twitter/ @concetta8631)

The Virginia Department of Education has been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism online after a teacher training video instructing teaching professionals to avoid calling the 9/ 11 killers 'terrorists' went viral. The video, which is nearly 2 hours long, also instructed them to avoid promoting "American exceptionalism" during lessons about the attacks. The video training advised teachers to avoid the "false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11" and anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The now-deleted video was posted on the VDOE's YouTube channel and was intended to promote a "culturally responsive and inclusive 9/11 commemoration" to help teachers broach the sensitive subject "in a way that does not cause harm".

However, the video did not go down well for many parents who expressed outrage at the attempt of "woke-washing the 9/11 attacks" and "hijacking history". 


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The instructional video was shared as part of Virginia DOE's VA Equity webinar series, which was led by American University School of Education professorial lecturer Amaarah DeCuir. 

Who is Amaarah DeCuir?

DeCuir, EdD is a professorial lecturer at American University’s School of Education. As per her author bio on The Conversations, DeCuir teaches Education Studies and Social Justice, Education Leadership, and teaches an Antiracist Research Methods course she co-designed. Her work focuses on the intersections of leadership, gender, and diverse cultural contexts to advance social justice.

In the video, DeCuir explains all the things right and wrong way to teach students about the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. She shared her 'Webinar In's & Out's', listing the many ways she deems appropriate or inappropriate to teach about the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks. As per reports online, in the video, she claimed that asking students to "stand and condemn 9/11" in a performative way would be "highly inappropriate". 

She also suggested that instead of "terrorists", teachers use the word "extremists" to further "disrupt this false equivalency of Muslims and terrorism".

"I choose to use the word extremists and I use this based on the scholarship of other scholars and activists in the community that will also use this word to describe the perpetrators of the crimes associated with 9/11," she said. Furthermore, she warned of the consequences of teaching American exceptionalism instead turning the focus to "our shared humanity". 

"We're also not going to reproduce what's understood as American exceptionalism - this understanding that America is a land at the top of a beautiful mountain and that all other countries, nations, and people are less than America," she said. "We're not going to reproduce notions that American history and American experiences are more significant than the experiences or histories of other people," she continued. "So we're going to begin with a common understanding of our shared humanity, regardless of our national, racial, linguistic or religious origins."

Additionally, DeCuir reminded teachers of the importance "to plan our 9/11 lessons in a way that does not seek to reproduce anti-Muslim racism". 

"We're not going to reproduce a false assumption of Muslim responsibility for 9/11. We're just going to begin right there and name that there is no responsibility and therefore we're not going to use this space to try and untangle this. Do not use this day to amplify the extremists themselves and don't use the day to amplify their acts on 9/11. You name what happened and that's it," she added.

Finally, reports say that DeCuir encouraged teachers to  "extend expectations of 'equity'" to all students, humanize Muslim students, acknowledge anti-Muslim racism, and push them to continue to learn. 


The video has now been deleted; but even before that the comments were reportedly disabled. But needless to say, it has upset many Virginia parents since the training comes just in time for the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks and America's controversial withdrawal and evacuation from Afghanistan.

The vice president of strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education Asra Nomani, who is also a Virginia resident, accused the presentation of "hijacking history" and "woke-washing the 9/11 attacks".

In a statement to Fox News, she said, "As an American Muslim parent and journalist who has investigated Islamic terrorism for the past 20 years, it's offensive, immoral, unethical, manipulative and dangerous. The Virginia Department of Education is woke-washing the 9/11 attacks. Speaker Amaarah DeCuir instructs teachers to erase the fact that the 9/11 hijackers were motivated by an extremist interpretation of Islam," she continued. 

Online as well, the outrage has been largely directed towards DeCuir. "Amaarah DeCuir, you’re welcome to move to another country if you don’t like this one," one wrote. Another wrote, "@AmaarahDeCuir 9/11 hijackers were Terrorists! Anyone that thinks like them, acts like them, are also terrorists!" Along similar lines, another said, "What’s with Virginia. People sending their children to these schools should demand this woman b tossed. Amaarah DeCuir shouldn’t b allowed to speak to any children. Anyone trying to minimize what the terrorists did on 911 should b thrown out of this co in try"




"Amaarah DeCuir should not be allowed to brainwash our children with terrorist propaganda. Wokism is the disease that will destroy America from within," one user wrote. 


At the same time, there was some support for her. One tweeted, "Stand with my brilliant professor @amaarah_decuir! @TC_Africa". Another user ricocheting her teachings wrote, "How are you approaching 9/11 in your classroom this month AND year-round? My brilliant dissertation chair @amaarah_decuir shares some words. Lessons about 9/11 often provoke harassment of Muslim students via @TC_Africa"



Another wrote, "Raising the voice of one doesn’t dismiss another’s voice. When you explain how one was impacted it doesn’t dismiss the impact on others. It’s saying, “Can you be considerate, sensitive, & responsive to another’s lived experience?” Standing in support of my sister @amaarah_decuir". Another supporter said, "Thank you @amaarah_decuir and @corbinmcampbell for reminding us that anti-Muslim racism and hatred is real."