Wednesday, February 23, 2005

GI Gets Hate Mail... From Sixth Graders

Alex Kunhardt, a teacher at JHS 51 William Alexander (Junior High) in New York City, encouraged his sixth-grade students to write letters to a US soldier stationed near the DMZ in South Korea. When Pfc. Rob Jacobs opened the letters, he wasn't prepared for what he saw. Many letters were filled with insults, political rhetoric and demoralizing predictions. It's apparent that the children were either coaxed by, or had letters written by, either parents or the teacher himself.

Here's a sample of what the 11 and 12 year olds wrote:

"Even thoe [sic] you are risking your life for our country, have you seen how many civilians you or some other soldier killed?"

"I know your [sic] trying to save our country and kill the terrorists but you are also destroying holy places like Mosques."

"From what I see on TV and in the newspaper, I don't think the US is even close to obtaining Iraqi freedom."

"I'm concerned that George W. Bush is president for four more years, because he doesn't want to get troops out, so you might end up staying longer."

"Bush thinks he's brave . . . in his safe little white house with as many guards as he thinks he needs."

"By the way, when you shoot someone, is it great or horrible?"
The stories I've read don't indicate why Pfc. Jacobs was singled out.

I know things have changed in the twenty-plus years since I was their age, but I don't for a minute believe these children wrote these things on their own. They had to be coached, which makes the situation even more despicable.

Responses from readers to the original NY Post story are here. The best comment:
Please tell Pfc. Rob Jacobs not to be too upset about the letters he received from the sixth-graders. These are, after all, New York City schoolchildren being taught by New York City public-school teachers. In other words, they are uneducated.