Administering ‘Truth’ in our Schools

In George Orwell’s novel 1984, the Ministry of Truth is responsible for falsifying historical events and advancing government-approved versions of the ‘truth,’ such as ‘2 + 2 = 5’ and ‘War is peace.’ The ministry, the propaganda wing of the government of Oceania, one of the fictional superstates in the novel, uses ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ to obscure, distort or even reverse the meaning of words.

That was a fictional dystopia. But a few current examples will leave no doubt that the Orwellian manufacture of ‘truth’ is very much a salient feature of the American educational system.

Last week, the Palm Beach County School Board, FL,  voted four to three to reinstate William Latson, a former principal of the Spanish River Community High School, Boca Raton, who had emailed a parent: “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.” His dismissal of  the most well-documented genocide in history, and in a school with the largest Jewish student population in the country at that, caused shockwaves and resulted in his suspension.

In 1994, the Florida Legislature passed the Holocaust Education Bill (SB 660), mandating  lessons of the Holocaust to be part of the public-school curriculum. It said the Holocaust must be taught as “a uniquely important event in modern history, emphasizing the systemic and state-sponsored violence, which distinguish it from other genocides.”

Despite this, Latson was selective in teaching Holocaust material, saying, “I work to expose students to certain things, but not all parents want their students exposed, so they will not be and I can’t force that issue.” This was beyond belief for many in the community: the principal was implying not only that whether the Holocaust happened was open to interpretation, but also that the study of the topic was optional.

When Latson was recently reinstated with $152,000 in lost wages, state administrative judge Robert Cohen ruled that the principal “made some unfortunate choices in expressing his thoughts,” but should have received a verbal or written reprimand -- a mere slap on the wrist. He called for reassigning Latson to a post “commensurate with his qualifications,” no punishment at all for doubting the worst genocide in modern history. Surely, if Latson had minimized slavery, he would have been fired.

When the school board rehired Latson, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) made the following statement: “At a time when anti-Semitism in our country exists at record levels and basic knowledge of the Holocaust among young Americans has been found to be profoundly lacking, it is incumbent upon our educators to push back against intolerance -- not embrace the language of Holocaust deniers. This decision reflects poorly on our community and is an insult to the thousands of Holocaust survivors who have made South Florida their home, the descendants of victims, and the millions of Jews who were murdered during the genocide.”

Now, contrast the Latson case with that of Catholic high school theology teacher Timothy Gordon, who was fired over personal social media posts characterizing Black Lives Matter (BLM) as a terrorist group. For the record, between 2017 and 2019, the FBI officially referred to BLM as a “black identity extremist group.” The bureau explained this was not racial profiling, but a necessary response to the rising number of ambush attacks by BLM on police officers. Scott Walter, of Capital Research Center, a think-tank, was quoted by Fox News as saying, “It’s not racial profiling, it’s violence profiling.”

Gordon’s online posts warned of BLM violence, called on Americans to “forcibly defend your cities from arsonist-vandals,” and said BLM opposes “the western Christian nuclear family.” He also alleged that BLM readies weapons and rocks at protest sites to foment mayhem.

Gordon was accurately describing current events as a private citizen on social media; he says he never shared these views with students. Yet, he was sacked. Clearly, he is being discriminated against for views that happen to be politically incorrect, or just unpopular.

The stunningly disparate outcomes in the Latson and Gordon cases point to the special status enjoyed by some groups despite illegal activity and violence: Latson, as a principal, perverted and doubted a copiously documented historical event; Gordon truthfully reported, as a private citizen, on actual riots, looting, and the stated mission of an organization that supports violence. This sadly indicates that Jews may not rate the same level of protection as a radical black Marxist group that chants, “What do we want? Dead cops!” and urges blacks to kill “honkies.”

In yet another public school case, not only was there no action against a teacher for promoting the Islamic faith in a world history class, but a court of appeals upheld a requirement for a dissenting student to recite the Islamic conversion prayer in violation of her religious beliefs.  When 11th grader Caleigh Wood, of La Plata High School, in Maryland, refused to intone, “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah,” she was threatened with a failing grade.

Students at the school were required to watch presentations that endorsed Islam and criticized Christianity and the Pope. Ms Wood refused to complete her assignment, citing religious objections, and sought an alternative, which the school rejected. Her lawsuit documents that no portion of the Bible or any other non-Islamic religious texts were covered in class. Instead of viewing this as religious coercion, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the teacher “did not violate the Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment in teaching about Islam as part of a history class. Later, the Supreme Court of the United States refused to review Ms Wood’s appeal.

The landmark case that set the precedent for school prayer decisions was Engel v. Vitale (1962), in which the United States Supreme Court held that it was unconstitutional for public schools to lead students in prayer or Bible reading, even on a voluntary basis.  Incredibly, in  Ms. Wood’s case, Islamic prayer was exempted.

In the current secondary school environment, an educator can get away with denying or minimizing the Holocaust, while Islam may be promoted with impunity. And a teacher who reports on actual events -- rioting, looting, vandalizing, and assaults on civilians and police officers by a militant black group -- is censured, shunned and loses his job.

These events reinforce the view that anti-Semitism, anti-Christianity, anti-white racism and attacks on police are tolerated. Statements criticizing a violent black movement that has wreaked havoc in dozens of cities are automatically labeled racist, and objections to curriculums that subject students to Islamic indoctrination (in ways that wouldn’t be tolerated for any other religion) are labeled racist. Even non-critical, neutral statements can be perceived as racist, with dire consequences: Grant Napear, a broadcaster, was fired by KTHK Sports 1140, a radio station, and had to resign from Sacramento Kings TV, for tweeting ‘All Lives Matter’ when asked what he thought of BLM.

We have truly entered the alternative reality of Oceania, where our freedom to hold nonapproved versions of the truth is severely threatened.  We need to speak out louder -- and boldly -- before it is too late. Or else, we will have to swallow what the Ministry of Truth force-feeds us.

Image: Pixabay

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