A “graphic-novel-coloring book” entitled “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom” is selling quite well according to its St. Louis-based publisher, Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. run by Wayne Bell. Bell describes the book as an “honest depiction” of what happened almost a decade ago and an “informational piece to help educate children on events on 9/11″ with pictures of the Twin Towers burning, Navy SEALS and former president George W. Bush. But some of the book’s “information” is simply inaccurate and perpetuates harmful stereotypes about Muslims. The book also includes a picture of what is supposed to be Osama Bin Laden’s last moments. Bin Laden is shown hiding behind one of his wives, something he was not doing before he was killed.
Referencing part of the book that refers to the jihadists as “freedom-hating radical Islamic Muslim extremists,” Walid notes that nearly all of the mentions of Muslims in the book are accompanied by the words “terrorist” or “extremist.” He says this book is more than just coloring in the lines.
“Little kids who pick up this book can have their perceptions colored by those images … it instills bias in young minds,” said Walid.
Bell says that the coloring book is “not ideological” and that its pictures represent patriotism:
“The truth is the truth. It’s unfortunate that they were all Muslim and that’s the part people want to erase … I don’t know what else you can call them.”
But, as Walid points out, “Muslim mothers lost sons too.” By equating Muslims with extremists, Bell’s coloring book does a “disservice to all the Muslim Americans affected by 9/11″ and at a time when they are “already dealing with an environment of increasing Islamophobia.”
A sample page from the coloring book can be seen via Talking Points Memo.
Of course, if you find the images and biased tone of ”We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom” disturbing, you can simply not buy the book. A press release specifically touts the book as demonstrating “honesty, reverence, integrity, and good character” and indeed providing a “historic and educational perspective.” Since the book is a coloring book aimed at children, it’s very troubling to know that such a biased rendition of the events of 9/11 is what is being presented as “truth,” not to mention “historic and educational” to them.
Bell’s Really Big Coloring Books, Inc., also produces books about less controversial subject matter, including dinosaurs, fairy tales and Thomas the Tank Train (though it does have a book about the Tea Party). Bell has said that he would be willing to print a coloring book with positive images of Muslim Americans and would do so “tomorrow” if asked — to which Walid says “Well, I’m asking him to do it right now.”
Or at least in time for the upcoming 10 year memorial of 9/11.
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Photo of 9/11 memorial in Jersey City, directly across from where the WTC once stood, by _PaulS_