Colleen LaRose, otherwise known as Jihad Jane, was not the biggest catch for the FBI in their war on terror. She was not a prize convert for Islam either. So suggests the start of a four-part series and six-month investigation from John Shiffman of Reuters, about LaRose, who set out to follow internet orders to kill a man in Sweden accused of blasphemy against the Prophet Mohammed.
"The court filings and press releases draw a
frightening portrait of the Jihad Jane conspiracy," Shiffman writes. "But an exclusive
Reuters review of confidential investigative documents and interviews in
Europe and the United States - including the first with Jihad Jane
herself -- reveals a less menacing and, in some ways, more preposterous
undertaking than the U.S. government asserted."
Some suggest that authorities exaggerated the dangers presented by LaRose, who grew up in the Detroit area and was a victim of incest. Her education was limited to the seventh-grade and, subsequently, she abused drugs and alcohol. The plot may sound inept and outlandish. But the ignorant who are impatient about investing time in studies and self-improvement can be angry and dangerous.
Be sure to click through the photos in Shiffman's report, and pause at the school photo of LaRose from the 1970s, when she was about 7 or 8 years old. I have met Michigan women in their 50s who attended schools in the best districts, and now regret the labels, the free time and lack of standards for children deemed not capable of college work. Everywhere, there are teachers who label children, thereby limiting their own work and a child's opportunities, and others never give up trying to expand the future for every child. "Many teachers see a child as one way or another and they are labeled," writes Stephanie Mayberry.
"Once that child in labeled, it sticks with them unless someone steps in
and stops it."
Fortunately, most of us have the chance to meet many teachers throughout our lives who challenge us, guide us, and believe we can move beyond the standards.