Parents of a 3-year-old boy from Washington state have described their reaction to his malfunctioning Christmas present as “confused.” After the toddler opened the electric F-16 toy jet from his uncle on Christmas morning, the family was surprised to hear the toy plane reciting a Muslim prayer instead of its normal flight sounds.
Bjorn Thorpe, uncle and gift giver, confirmed that the toy plane’s noises sounded like Arabic chanting that was “pretty unusual.” Thorpe had purchased the plane from Amazon through a toy company called WolVol that said the manufacturer must have accidentally sent them a defective batch of toy planes. Following Christmas, the toy F-16 military fighter jet’s Amazon ratings have plummeted as other parents have left similar reviews, saying the toy emits an Arabic prayer instead of jet or bombing noises. Nadeem Israr, president of the Islamic Society of Whatcom County, explained to King 5 that the toy’s chant is a prayer said when performing Hajj during the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Admittedly, any parent would be a little freaked out to hear a new Christmas toy chanting something other than plane noises as advertised, but these level-headed parents took it all in stride. Instead of turning a foreign prayer into the next big political issue, they simply contacted the manufacturer and Amazon to request a refund — a perfectly normal response to a defective toy that a few other over-reactive parents could learn from.
This year has been a big one for Islamaphobia, especially following the tragic Paris attacks that rocked our Western world. Sadly, much of this ignorance is coming from fellow parents who are supposed to be guiding the next generation into tolerance and acceptance, not more bigotry and hate. Last week, a school in Virginia shut down when a teacher dared to teach her students calligraphy using Arabic script from an Islamic religious text. The month before, a California mother’s Facebook post went viral when she protested her son learning Islamic practices and beliefs in his seventh grade world history class. (In 2015, the number of parents complaining about Islamic lessons at school was long enough to make a list.)
As disappointing as it was to see this behavior in schools across America, here we have two parents in Washington who are doing something right. Sure, it’s pretty weird to get a praying plane instead of a fighting plane under the Christmas tree, and there’s nothing wrong with saying as much in an Amazon review. But rather than viewing a defective toy through a xenophobic lens, the boy’s parents chalked it up to an honest mistake.
That’s the funny thing about parenting — you always have to be on your toes because weird things are always going to happen. Right before the release of the much-anticipated Minions movie this summer, we heard reports of a cursing Minions toy released by McDonald’s. And how can we forget about the little boy who was forced to learn about S-E-X from his Chipotle cup?
The point is that stuff like this happens all the time, and it’s our job to explain these curveballs to our kids without escalating a problem that wasn’t there to begin with. A toy plane that chants a Muslim prayer is unexpected but is in no way wrong or bad. In fact, if it had been any other song that was accidentally inserted into this plane, it wouldn’t have made the news.