Sunday, November 16, 2008

UK Schools Drop Teaching the Holocaust: A False Story Persists

There is a video slide show making the rounds that begins by talking about Dwight D. Eisenhower's comments on the liberation of the camps. Then it proceeds to condemning the UK's cessation of the teaching of the Holocaust.

One would think that people who are Internet savvy would have heard that this is a rumor that is untrue. Yet somehow it does not seem to sink in. I have blogged about this a lot

I don't doubt that there are schools where teaching the Holocaust is done in the most cursory fashion, if at all. But this is NOT the same thing as the UK officially dropping the Holocaust from its curriculum.

There are enough things to worry about and to protest against. We don't need to create false ones.


Epaminondas said...

Keep it up Dr.

You accept this story as a well known debunking, but most people out there have no idea this is not true.

If they even heard the FIRST (untrue) rumor

Demosthenes said...

the world should never stop talking about the holocaust. ever.
the Americans need the education more than the british do.

this guy has interesting stuff to say on the subject:

Alice said...

I received a chain letter today with this very powerpoint document attached. It was SO ridiculous! I wrote back to the person who sent it, pointing out how utterly implausible it is that such a thing would occur in the U.K., since she continues to be a strong supporter of Israel.

This harmful rumor is clearly only a way to engender further blind hatred against the Muslim community. To contribute to the ostracization of a certain group because of the heinous acts of an extremist minority is counter to the tenets of freedom and democracy. It's unAmerican. (I am speaking as a staunch Republican, by the way.)

Why must people persist in believing WHATEVER they read or hear, without even trying to verify it before passing it on???

Deborah Lipstadt said...

Alice: I don't think it simply a reflection of a blind hatred against the Muslim community. IT is also a reflection of an irrational fear. It always seems to make more sense to accept these wild rumors as fact... because the worst can always -- and once did -- happen.

Alice said...

That's very true, Deborah. Once burned (and ravaged and shot and gassed), twice shy! A knee-jerk reaction is understandable to a degree, but what I don't understand is how the jerking of the knee can disengage the brain. All rational people accept the indisputable fact of the Holocaust, yet so many of those same people find themselves easily swayed against truth and toward hatred, just because they "saw it on the internet." As an American, I find this gullibility sad and embarrassing.

hockey hound said...

"the heinous acts of an extremist minority"

How would you define that certain hateful "minority," demographically and universally speaking, when it becomes more numerous than those groups cognitively recognized as the "majority"?

Also, do you define as "extremist" only those who commit extremist crimes, or do you include also in your definition those who merely advocate publicly, in print or otherwise, such extremism?

In the past few years Western journalists and politicians are themselves becoming inadvertantly sectarianized as a consequence of their attemps at defining the quantitative group deserving of this appellation. One man's extremist is another man's freedom fighter. Nothing is absolute. Everything is relative.

"...the reality is that the United States is becoming, and in some cases is now, identified by Muslims as the cosponser of the tyrannical systems of government they live under. It is common belief in many Muslim countries that U.S. financial, military, plitical, and diplomatic aid ensures that tyrannies remain in power. This belief in turn assists bin Laden in persuading Muslims that the key to overthrowing their rulers is to drive the United States from the region and thereby weaken the ruling regimes to the point where they can be destroyed by the mujahedin. Whether bin Laden is correct in this strategic assumption is an open question, but the fact is that his argument has won the agreement of millions of Muslims over the past decade." -Michael Scheuer

Alice said...

Hockey Hound, the extremist minority I referred to was Al-Qaeda and its ilk. When you only count the "men behind the curtain", it really is a minority. I feel it's an overreaction to count all the followers, and creates specious statistics.

I am convinced that those throughout the world who have been duped into supporting extremist rhetoric could be turned away from it just as easily, if only they felt they had other choices. I am willing to believe most of them have been emotionally or physically coerced in some fashion, and ultimately comply purely out of self-preservation, or that of their loved ones. That said, this Michael Scheuer and anyone else can claim all they like that "the fact is that his argument has won the agreement of millions of Muslims over the past decade," but I think that's a gross distortion of reality. Maybe -- mayyyybe -- a hundred thousand tops is much more believable, and as I said, I think most of those are forced into complicity.

I admit to being a Pollyanna, but I DO believe in absolutes -- black and white, good and bad, right and wrong, wise and stupid. Gray areas are populated by the indecisive and muddleheaded. I also still truly believe that the irrational and evilhearted people of the world are far outnumbered by the reasonable and goodhearted, even if one of the latter may find himself walking through a marketplace with a brick of C-4 and 20 pounds of roofing nails strapped to his belly, because if he refused to do so, he'd come home one day to find his entire family decapitated.

Allen Esterson said...

A point worth noting on this topic is not only that the original report in the Daily Mail upon which the false rumour was based completely misrepresented the situation, the original report itself is not well understood:

"For example, a history department in a northern city recently avoided selecting the Holocaust as a topic for GCSE coursework for fear of confronting anti-Semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils."
(page 15)

The report does not say that the Holocaust was not taught as part of the standard curriculum in this school, but that it was not selected as a subject for GCSE coursework. In this context "coursework" means a piece of work undertaken by the student (mostly done at home) for submitting for marks to go towards the General Certificate of Secondary Education examination (taken at age 16).

To see how misleading (and pernicious, as it turned out) the Daily Mail report was, compare the above quote with the offending article:

hockey hound said...

You mean to tell me that there are actually Muslim students who harbour anti-Jewish sentiment and who, probably because of this anti-Jewish sentiment, actually believe the Holocaust never happened?!! (Very sarcastic laughter at this point.) Say it isn't so! This can't be, not from those religious who adhere to "the religion of peace"! But they're not real Muslims, are they? No, these students must be either "Islamists" or from a wing of "political Islam", as the now subjugated-to-political-correctness historian Daniel Jonah Goldhagen appellates. What surprising and discomposing news is thrown at me today!!! (Very sarcastic laughter again.)