“Jews Are Evil ” Assignment: No Harm, No Foul?

“Jews are evil.” At least that’s what one wackadoodle teacher in upstate New York thinks. Oh, he or she (the teacher in question has not been identified) will try to feign ignorance that any such assignment given to their 10th Grade English students was somehow offensive — not to mention stupid — but would instead argue that it was a legitimate academic exercise. At least three classes of 10th graders were given the following assignment:

You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!”

Students were asked to watch and read Nazi propaganda, then pretend their teacher was a Nazi government official who needed to be convinced of their loyalty. In five paragraphs, they were required to prove that Jews were the source of Germany’s problems.

One cannot even begin to fathom how such an assignment was created. Surely this was not required by New York’s Common Core curriculum, as the Superintendent of the Albany, NY School District, Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, seemed to imply:

Vanden Wyngaard said the exercise reflects the type of writing expected of students under the new Common Core curriculum, the tough new academic standards that require more sophisticated writing. Such assignments attempt to connect English with history and social studies.”

So, is Ms. Wyngaard saying that the new curriculum REQUIRES a high school English teacher in New York state to give a persuasive writing assignment to his or her students which states, “Jews are evil”? I find that hard to believe. In fact, I’m quite sure that there is no such requirement in the Common Core curriculum that would necessitate offending Jewish, Christian, or, most especially, Muslim students or families. Does anyone seriously believe that any teacher who gave his or her 10th grade English class a persuasive writing assignment that included the sentence, “You must argue that Muslims are evil,” would still be teaching? There would be no discussion of whether this teacher would be disciplined. The teacher would be terminated. And, there would certainly be no defense of the teacher by the School Superintendent, like Ms. Wyngaard gave in this case:

The exercise was intended to challenge students to formulate a persuasive argument and was given to three classes, Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said. She said the assignment should have been worded differently. “I would apologize to our families,” she said. “I don’t believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith.”

Would Superintendent Wyngaard say there was no “malice or intent to cause any insensitivities” if the assignment called Muslims “evil?” I think any reasonable person — conservative or liberal — should be able to arrive at the same answer to that question. Notwithstanding Superintendent Wyngaard’s weak excuse and lame “apology,” (did she really apologize?) there is simply no good reason why this teacher — or any teacher, for that matter — would ask 10th graders to argue that the Nazi regime was good and that all the ills of pre-World War II Germany were caused by Jews.

Make no mistake.  Whether it’s a college professor in Florida asking his students to “stomp on Jesus” or a high school teacher in New York asking students to imagine “Jews as evil” and Hitler and the Nazis as “good,”  we will see an increase in this sort of bigotry and persecution directed at Jews and Christians in this country. We can choose to ignore it, make excuses for it, and hope that it goes away. Or, we can resist intolerant, anti-religious bullies — like 1/3 of the Albany High School 10th graders did who refused to complete the assignment — and push back against a secular culture that wants to eliminate any mention of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and principles. We would do well to heed the words of German Pastor and Martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said:

Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

 

 

12 comments for ““Jews Are Evil ” Assignment: No Harm, No Foul?

  1. Barbara Silva
    April 12, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    There is nothing new under the sun. I had a similar assignment in 1970 given to us in World History class (high school sophomores). It was disguised as a debate with the Nazi regime on one side and the Allied forces on the other. The teacher had to assign the debate teams because no one wanted to do the assignment. I ended up on the Allies side but felt so bad for my classmates that were on the opposite side. Back then students were not as vocal in high school. I am glad these students refused to do the assignment. I wish my class had been that brave.

    • April 12, 2013 at 6:58 PM

      Barbara,

      Wow! Stupidity in the educational system has been around for a long time 🙂 I think there are ways to discuss controversial issues so that students can learn how to put together a persuasive argument. The problem with this assignment is that it was not only inappropriate, but completely unnecessary. I suspect — without any way to definitively prove — that the teacher in question is a progressive/leftist who is perfectly comfortable writing “Jews are evil,” but would be one of the first to protest — and try to shut down someone else’s First Amendment rights — if the writing would have been “Muslims are evil.” It is encouraging that 1/3 of the students refused to to the assignment. Too bad it wasn’t more. Have a great night and a good weekend. See you Sunday. God bless,

      Howell

  2. April 12, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    I read this and just hope that somehow you got your facts wrong. Stupidity is incomprehensible.

    Please, Howell, tell me this is a poorly timed April Fools joke?

    • April 12, 2013 at 7:04 PM

      Dave,

      Unless both Fox News (which some people would suspect) and the Albany Times-Union have both misreported the story, then I am simply repeating the facts as we now know them. Unfortunately, this does not appear to be an April Fools’ joke. The joke is on those students who are tying to get an education, but instead are finding themselves more and more subjected to leftist indoctrination. If this leftist/progressive pablum was confined to NY and CA, then we might not worry. But, what starts on the coasts will, sooner rather than later, make its way to flyover country. And, yes, stupidity is incomprehensible. Thanks and God bless,

      Howell

  3. Bennett Willis
    April 12, 2013 at 5:55 PM

    I recall a Sunday School teacher that I had when I was in college who said that they had a debate about slavery when he was in high school. He was happy that he got the anti-slavery side. Then his opponent beat him like a drum. The pro-slavery source of information and argument: Pre civil war sermons that one of the opponent’s ancestors had preached.

    Look at the issue with North Korea. Things have not changed much. It can help if you understand why people can act like they do/did.

  4. Jon
    April 12, 2013 at 6:48 PM

    I don’t think this was an attempt to bash the group in question. If someone wants to do that in our culture these days, they usually isolate a Christian or conservative group. I think this is actually a reflection of what happens when teachers are expected to formulate lessons that are constantly lively and integrated. They are forced to do the impossible and the outcome is often absurd. Working in the public school system, I’ve seen things like this all the time. But when someone there really wants to bash a group, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s either Christian or conservative. People with liberal agendas have no interest in bashing any other group. As Christians we have Jewish ties, of course, but secular society doesn’t know that. They won’t target our heritage when it’s two millennia away.

    • April 12, 2013 at 7:20 PM

      Jon,

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I’m sure you are right about the pressure that is put upon teachers to “formulate lessons that are constantly and integrated.” Even if that is true, do you think any teacher in their right mind would have formulated a lively and integrated lesson which stated, “Muslims are evil”? I suppose it is possible, but not very likely. And, while it is true that Christian and conservative groups are often the target for isolation, ridicule, and derision, anti-Semitism is on the rise, not just in Europe, but in the United States as well. Apart from Neo-Nazi groups and the like, anti-Semitism is almost exclusively practiced by the progressive, far-left. That’s why I was careful not to indict liberals, because I have many good friends and fraternity brothers who are both Jewish and liberal. That’s why I believe this teacher is a secular progressive/leftist type who got caught when 1/3 of his/her students refused to participate in a clearly offensive and inappropriate assignment. Thanks again for your comment. God bless,

      Howell

  5. April 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

    Howell, I think Jon makes a good point about the pressures that are put on teachers. But your point about “Muslims are evil” supersedes it. If there is any question about whether such a thing like this is a good idea (even if it is not politically motivated), let them substitute the names of a number of other groups and see if they would assign the same type of project with that name substituted. I can think of quite a few that would get a teacher in deep trouble.

    • April 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM

      Robert,

      Thanks for the comment. I do think that Jon is right that the pressure on teachers can cause them to do the impossible which leads to the absurd. However, you are right in that any teacher which substituted “Jews are evil” for any number of other groups — most especially Muslims — would not only be in deep trouble, but most likely out of a job. Thanks for stopping by. Have a great weekend and God bless,

      Howell

  6. Bennett Willis
    April 21, 2013 at 4:55 PM

    Protests in Texas got an assignment to look at the Boston Tea Party from the point of view of the British removed from the curriculum.

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