Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Something Said. Something Not Good

Why doesn't this surprise me?*
A high school social studies teacher who was put on leave after comparing President Bush's State of the Union address to speeches made by Adolf Hitler defended his lecture on Tuesday, saying he was trying to encourage students to think.
*I think it's mostly a mistake to make comparisons between Hitler/Nazis and a modern U.S. politician because the magnitude of Hitler's/Nazi's evilness is so incredibly great. However, this particular case seems to be an exception, as the teacher focused on the language of their respective speeches rather than on the men themselves.


Studiodave said...

Yes, Thrillhouse, but you burn American Flags to keep warm in the winter.

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Thrillhous said...

Yeah, but I make sure the flags are made in America. They burn so much better than those ones made in China.

Isaac Carmichael said...

The comparison is ludicrous...Bush doesn't even have a funny little mustache.

Tokyo Joe said...

At first glance (before reading the article)it made sense to put him on paid leave for comparing Bush to Hitler. Then at second glance (after reading the article) it seems ridicuulous since he was just comparing their language. However, at third glance (i'm glad there's no limit on glances), I can see some sort of punishment (and paid leave isn't much of a punishment) being thrown out. It seemed to me that he wasn't just comparing their speeches, but the meat behind them. I got the sense that his bit about "i'm not sying they are alike..." sounded a bit tongue in cheek. It's hard to balance out Bush=Hitler (I know that's not what he said, but that's the underlying message I got) and I'm not sure I feel comfortable with teachers giving such a biased opinion (regardless of which way the opinion is slated) in class. Obviously someone in the class thought it was a bit much if they went through the effort to tape it and send it to a radio station.

But what about the school administration? Did they investigate this at all? Does the teacher have a history of giving his own political bias? How much of a hit on his career is a few days of paid leave? Too many questions for me to get too outraged over this. So I'll put it down as just a little bit assinine on the part of the school administration.

Otto Man said...

There was a graduation speaker at Harvard in the late '60s who based his speech on the need for law and order. He talked about how the unruly students were making things unsafe, how the dangerous minorities were rioting, how the military needed to be respected and civilian leaders given greater power. The crowd of moms and dads applauds him, and then he lets them know it was a speech given by one of Hitler's henchmen in 1930s Germany. (Marilyn Young's The Vietnam Wars has the full story in it. Pretty good.)

Next time, the teacher should just read a Nazi address with the key words switched, and ask his students who it sounds like. Let them connect the dots.

Tokyo Joe said...

actually, I think next time the teacher should probably just avoid the whole topic of Hitler in the first place. As much of a zinger as the Harvard speech is, it's kind of misleading. So what if some Hitler stooge said that kids are unruly and the govt should be respected? It wasn't those things that put the Nazis down as a vile and disgusting group. I might as well say "who's would like artists and writers running the govt?" And when everyone agrees that artists and writers are a good idea, I say "GOTCHA - you all want Hitler in power."

Isaac Carmichael said...

I would rather have my kid's teacher compare the President (any President, not just W) to Hitler than compare him to Jesus, as other teachers have done (I don't have all the relevant info on that, and it's too late to do research, but I have heard of such a thing...pinky swear!).

I teach my kid that the default setting on politicians is "scoundrel", and it's up to a politician to prove him- or herself otherwise.

Thrillhous said...

Sideshow, I love your line about "default settings". Sounds like my commodore 64.

I think it's pretty hard to make a convincing point by comparing someone to Hitler. Someone's bound to miss whatever point you're making and fixate on the invalidity of the Hitler comparison. Probably best to just compare Bush to the stuffy dean from Animal House. I

I do like OM's idea about speeches. The teacher could have read Hitler's speeches and some of W's, and maybe throw in a couple other historical figure's speeches, and let the kids figure out whose was whose.