Saturday, April 13, 2013

Teaching Truth – The Holocaust and its Denial – the Problem and the Rub

A teacher’s job -- article here or below, in an Albany, New York high school is on the chopping block because of an assignment he gave to his students.  The article entitled “Outrage after teacher assigns Nazi propaganda lesson on why Jews were evil” gives one understanding why this has become a controversy and why the teacher’s job hangs in the balance. 
The Holocaust is one of the seminal events in the history of the Jewish people that shaped much of my left of center political thought. I think about the Jewish tragedy every day of my life. When the weather is harsh, freezing cold or boiling hot I think about my people. I think about how much I take for granted. I think about how warm I am in winter and how cool I am in the blistering heat of summer. I think about my people of that time in that era who froze to death in winter and died of heat stroke in summer. I think of those who were worked, starved and beaten to death in any kind of weather.  I think about those who survived the onslaughts but went to their deaths anyway Zyklon B gassed ending up in the ovens of Auschwitz and many other extermination camps strewn all over Europe.
Those who have said it could be a teachable moment, a moment of clarification and understanding for the students of that instructor's class to look at that time through the historical eyes of an ordinary German make a point BUT either that teacher had to preface that assignment with exactly what he was trying to do, what the TRUTH of the Holocaust and the murder of between 6 and 15 million Jews truly is or that assignment should not have been given at all.
Even if the teacher met all the aforementioned criteria I believe that assignment was given to high school students who probably do not have the sophistication to understand what the teacher's intent was and what it should mean. Some even in their naïveté could believe the arguments illuminating Nazi propaganda and ordinary Germans' sentiment against the Jew were true. And THAT IS THE PROBLEM and the rub. In my opinion, that assignment was given to students who are too young and was seemingly given with NO clear representation of why the teacher thought this important for them to do. 
Until I understand more about this teacher and what HIS philosophical and political thoughts are I cannot make a judgment as to whether he should continue to teach. This is NOT a free speech issue IF the teacher harbors Nazi philosophic premises himself and wants to impart them to his students. THEN it is a matter of teaching the TRUTH of the Holocaust and the egregious mistake of those who have the unmitigated gall to teach the falsity of Holocaust denial.
A science teacher CANNOT teach the earth is flat, CANNOT teach the sun revolves around the earth, CANNOT teach that bad humors cause disease and a history teacher CANNOT teach denial of the Holocaust. None of those statements is up for debate because truth is truth, cannot be denied and taught to young students as false.
The earth revolves around the sun, the earth is NOT flat, bad humors do NOT cause disease and the murder of between 6 and 15 million Jews is indisputable FACT. 
Unless the teacher can present a damn good reason for giving the assignment to his high school students, most importantly tell what HE believes to be truth and if he is in any way a Holocaust denier he should be summarily fired!

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