California 8th graders forced to challenge the veracity of the Holocaust

The Rialto Unified School District in California has come under proper and necessary fire for an 8th grade assignment that has students writing an essay to challenge the veracity of the Holocaust.

They claim its about critical thinking. It’s not. It’s about chipping away at the concept of truth over lies, of evil over good, until the bad and the unjust are victorious.

The lesson read:

“When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence,” the assignment read. “For example, some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event but instead is a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain.”

The assignment then asked students to explain whether they “believe the Holocaust was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.”

Once this assignment was made public, the movement on the part of Rialto was swift. Interim Superintendent Mohammed Z. Islam,  “…was set to talk with administrators to ‘assure that any references to the holocaust ‘not occurring’ will be stricken on any current or future Argumentative Research assignments,’ a statement from district spokeswoman Syeda Jafri read.”

Many took to blaming the Common Core standards, as they promote the concept of “critical thinking,” which this assignment was allegedly all about. According to Rialto school board member Joe Martinez:

“One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to develop critical thinking skills in students,” Martinez wrote in an email Friday morning. “This will allow a person to come to their own conclusion. Current events are part of the basis for measuring IQ. The Middle East, Israel, Palestine and the Holocaust are on newscasts discussing current events. Teaching how to come to your own conclusion based on the facts, test your position, be able to articulate that position, then defend your belief with a lucid argument is essential to good citizenship. This thought process creates the foundation for a good education. The progression is within district board policy and also supports the district’s student inspired motto: ‘Today’s Scholars, Tomorrow’s Leaders.’”

School board members have received death threats, which is both ignorant and beneath contempt.

But this isn’t critical thinking. This is implementing the idea that is this: what we know is indecent and unacceptable, what we know is evil and hateful, what we know is disgusting and despicable, should be up for debate.

For example, one could debate the number of those killed in the Holocaust. One could debate what should be the long term political and economic ramifications to Germany.

But debate that the Holocaust is a “political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain?” Who debates that? Those with a vested financial and ideological interest in creating doubt amongst truth.

The assignment says, “some people claim” the Holocaust is a propaganda tool. Why not name them? Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmendinejad is one. Hamas leaders also deny the Holocaust, and refused to let UN teach the subject in Gaza schools. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad denies the Holocaust, while engaging in his own style of death and destruction in Syrian.

Doesn’t Board Member Martinez think that knowing who else shares these views might matter to those kids who he wants to be “critical thinkers?” Is that what he thinks of Ahmendinejad, Al-Assad and Hamas? Just a couple of guys being critical?

Or, are they all critical thinkers who also favor the wholesale extermination of Jews the world over? Is that just an odd coincidence, or is it (more likely, at least) that Holocaust denial is a subversive way to foment anti-Jewish hate and resentment, thus making their cause (one that is categorically dominated by killing Jews) one that is more acceptable?

If Martinez is representative of the Rialto Unified school board,  then no parent who actually cares about their children should send their kids to a Rialto school.

Blaming Common Core is the knee-jerk reaction to the problem (though Common Core is a problem, and its ardent supporters clearly have never engaged any critical thinking whatsoever.)

This assignment isn’t about Common Core, it is about revisionist history. It’s about the idea that nothing is evil if you put it in context. (For more on this, read The Kindergarten of Eden by Evan Sayet.) By stating in the assignment that “some people claim the Holocaust is not an actual historical event” the school is giving credence to the idea that the Holocaust is not an actual historical event.

That is a lie. The Holocaust did happen. The Holocaust was real. 13 million dead souls – Jews, Gays, Gypsies and countless innocent Germans, Poles and others. Any other presentation of the Holocaust than real is, de facto, a lie.

The Rialto Unified School District promoted revisionist history in this assignment. They knowingly and willingly lied to their 12 and 13 year-old students in the name of “education” and “critical thinking.”

Fire the Superintendent. Fire the teacher. Fire the school board, starting with Joe Martinez.

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