Common Core Alert! Holocaust as a ‘Propaganda Tool’? That’s What One CA School District is Teaching
May 6, 2014 By Jennifer Burke
Those in opposition to Common Core are frequently told that there is nothing controversial about the program. It is simply way to better prepare students for college by increasing their critical thinking skills. Many arguments have been made about Common Core’s nonsensical Math lessons, its abandonment of American literary classics for progressive reading materials, and the Common Core based anti-American lessons that have been reported across the country. The latest Common Core controversy out of California is beyond imagination. It is a dangerous, anti-Semitic rewriting of history.
The San Bernardino Sun reported on the lesson at the center of the controversy. Students in the eighth grade in the Rialto Unified School District were asked to hone their critical thinking skills by debating, in essay form, whether the Holocaust was ‘merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.’”
The district says the assignment is merely to teach students to evaluate the quality of evidence made by advocates or opponents of an issue. “When tragic events occur in history, there is often debate about their actual existence,” the assignment reads. “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. Based upon your research on this issue, 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. Remember to address counterclaims (rebuttals) to your stated claim. You are also required to use parenthetical (internal) citations and to provide a Works Cited page.”
Asking junior high students to prove that the Holocaust was real or was simply a made-up event for propaganda purposes is not critical thinking; it is anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League spoke out about this inappropriate and hate based assignment. The associate regional director, Matthew Friedman, sent the following in an email to Rialto Unified’s interim school superintendent, Mohammad Z. Islam.
“An exercise asking students to question whether the Holocaust happened has no academic value; it only gives legitimacy to the hateful and anti-Semitic promoters of Holocaust denial. It is also very dangerous to ask junior high school students to question the reality of the Holocaust on their own, given the sheer volume of denial websites out there.
If these questions do come up, it’s better to show the huge preponderance of evidence that’s out there (testimony, documentation, death camp sites, archaeology, etc.) and to also question why people would question the reality of the Holocaust (many motivated not by historical curiosity, but by anti-Semitism). Also, who are the people questioning the Holocaust and what do real historians say? This is more of an issue of teaching good information literacy.”
Even worse, this anti-Semitic project was assigned during the unit focused on the “Diary of Anne Frank,” the story of a young girl who, along with her family, was a Jewish victim of the Holocaust.
Local news affiliate KTLA, channel 5, offered an even further look into the offensive nature of this assignment.
The 18-page assignment instructions included three sources that students were told to use, including one that stated gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and that no evidence has shown Jews died in gas chambers.
“With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded,” states the source, which is a attributed to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au. “In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”
The district claims that it received no complaints from parents , teachers, or students about the assignment, which encouraged students to question whether the Holocaust, the killing of 6 million Jews by the Hitler Nazi regime, between 1933 and 1945, really happened. They initially defended the assignment as simply one focused on critical thinking and research. District spokesman Syeda Jafri made a statement via email on behalf of the district.
“One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to develop critical thinking skills in students. “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.’”
After her adamant statement that actually admits that the assignment encouraged students to decide for themselves if the Holocaust truly happened, Jafri then offered a contradiction to the district’s stance.
“There is no doubt the Holocaust was one of the most horrific, traumatic time-pieces in our history,” she wrote in an emailed response Friday afternoon. “We want our students to engage in developing critical thinking skills and have an in-depth perspective on the importance of the Holocaust. Although I received one email last week in reference to this subject, the district has not received any concerns about this writing prompt from any teachers, administrators or parents. However, due to its sensitive nature, we are always open to go back and examine the prompt.”
As news about this assignment was spread around the country, people were not buying the district’s double speak about this controversial, anti-Semitic assignment. After defending the project for days, the district finally, under pressure, changed its tune and altered the assignment. On Monday, Jafri revised the district’s stance on the assignment stating, “This was a mistake. It should be corrected. It will be corrected. We all know it was real. The Holocaust is not a hoax. … I believe our classroom teachers are teaching it with sensitivity and compassion.”
Ms. Jafri, there is no sensitivity and compassion in encouraging young, impressionable minds to question whether the Holocaust was real and provide them with materials filled with vile, anti-Semitic, hate-based lies and ask if they believe it. The assignment was wrong and dangerous. Anti-Semites have been trying to rewrite history by stating that the Holocaust never happened and a school funded with taxpayer money just supported that twisted stance.