“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.”