Over Reaction 101 – Row Over Nazi Letter NY School


Albany Public Schools Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said the assignment was not malicious, but was unacceptably insensitive. Photo: AAP

I might find myself a little unpopular here – It’s time people stop breaking their shin bones every time an issue of Nazism and Jewish peoples happens. The Nazis were never the biggest bunch of genocidal maniacs for they never reached the same high levels of the Soviet and Maoists. Let alone a few others after the Nazis. And, it’s not just the Jews who were lined up for murder. They were the largest of the groups because there were more of them. I also don’t believe this post modern world has the right to bitch when we are doing much of what the Nazis did such as using genetics to create the perfect looking human specimen.

Now, that said, on with the story…

Some schools have sought to develop empathy and how hatred works by getting school children to segregate based on the colour of their eyes and hair. They have been excellent programs and I really can’t see how this is any different.

A high school English teacher in New York state who had students pretend to be Jew-hating Nazis in a writing assignment has been placed on leave.

The teacher at Albany High School caused a storm of criticism after having students practice the art of persuasive writing by penning a letter to a fictitious Nazi government official arguing that “Jews are evil.”

District Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard held a news conference to apologise for the assignment.

The Times Union newspaper reported the teacher was not in class on Friday and had been placed on leave by the school district.

The district has not named the teacher, who was described as a veteran.

The writing assignment was done before a planned class reading of the memoir Night, by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

For the assignment, the teacher asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then write a letter trying to convince an official of the Third Reich “that Jews are evil and the source of our problems.”

“Review in your notebooks the definitions for logos, ethos, and pathos,” the teacher’s assignment said.

“Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point. Please remember, your life (here in Nazi Germany in the ’30s) may depend on it!”

Wyngaard said she didn’t think the assignment was malicious but “it displayed a level of insensitivity that we absolutely will not tolerate.”

Many of the students were dismayed by the assignment. Some refused to write the essay.




What if the teacher asked their students to do this regarding gencide committed by Turkey, Serbia, Japan, Vietnam, etc? Would there be any such wailing? I very much doubt it.

If anything, I believe that this exercise would help students to gain a much better understanding in what happened. I would prefer though that this exercise be not just about the evil Jew but have students concentrate on different groups who were exterminated be they Jew, homosexual, disabled, etc.

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