Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Normalizing evil

NY Times

A letter to the editor in response to a story in Sunday's NY Times (In America's Heartland, the Voice of Hate Next Door):

To the Editor:

Why on earth would The Times describe a white nationalist and Nazi sympathizer as being “polite” and having “Midwestern manners” that “would please anyone’s mother”? A person who spouts anti-Semitic hate, denies the extent of the Holocaust and believes that people of different races should be separated is per se the opposite of polite, and certainly wouldn’t please any mom I know (or would want to know).

When we lose sight of what evil means, what it actually entails, we risk legitimizing and normalizing it.

Stephen A. Silver

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Anti-Semitism in Bay Area schools

Roland Dodds on Harry's Place:

I noted the growing issue with anti-Semitism at public schools in the infamously left-wing California Bay Area a few months back, and recent examples continue to bubble to the surface. According to Algemeiner, the Alameda School District has routinely ignored anti-Semitic language directed at Jewish students:

In Alameda, California, middle and elementary schools have been defaced with swastikas and a Jewish elementary school student reportedly received a death threat. Under pressure from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and the parents of Natasha Waldorf — who received multiple antisemitic threats at Alameda High School — Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) officials are finally admitting that antisemitism is a problem and that they’ve made mistakes in how they’ve responded to it. But they are still not doing what’s needed.

The AUSD must implement a prevention, protection and proscription plan. Prevention means educating students and families about antisemitism and making it clear that harassing Jewish students won’t be tolerated. Protection means adequately training staff to recognize, stop and report antisemitism. Proscription means effectively responding to antisemitism, including by publicly condemning it, appropriately disciplining wrongdoers, and ensuring that targeted students are protected.

I agree with the author and the parents complaining to the school district: more has to be done to educate the community about the ways current anti-Semitism is employed. The meme culture that has allowed the alt-right to cultivate influence and build its ranks was often done using language and visuals older members of the community might not recognize as instantly anti-Semitic in nature.

Having said that, the piece also mentions students pronouncing things like “Hitler should have finished the job,” which seems like an easy piece of anti-Semitism to pick up on. 

As a teacher, I have seen many anemic administrators more interested in covering up existing problems than addressing them in the open. It makes a leader and school look bad to report every negative social instance, and they understandably hope to “fix” problems internally rather than having outside observers or press involved...

Dodds on the Santa Rosa fire.

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