Still Mystified By This

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May 7, 2014 10:56 a.m.

As we noted yesterday, the schools in Rialto, California – a town way out on the fringe of the LA sprawl, produced an assignment to ask 8th graders to “write an argumentative essay, utilizing cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.” I’ve seen a number of times where schools get into trouble on stuff kind of like this. And in some of those cases you can see how maybe someone had no ill-will but just approached something in a really stupid way. But I’m not seeing that here.

Free speech is one thing. And there’s a heuristic purpose sometimes in having people confront very controversial issues to hone their debating or argument skills. But that really doesn’t apply to 8th graders who lack the maturity to make these distinctions. Nor is this an “issue” in any reasonable sense. But beyond that it’s the second clause, which in other parts of the assignment becomes whether the Holocaust was manufactured as “a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.”

These ideas come right out of the most hardcore white supremacist Holocaust denial playbook. It’s just not possible think that whoever devised this was just tone deaf.

So I remain curious: just who came up with this?

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