Despite the mental fragility demonstrated by Holocaust deniers, it is clear that Adolf Hitler's Nazi government in Germany approved of and led the slaughter of some six million Jews in World War II, along with millions of others.
It's a well-documented genocide about which students should learn well before graduating from high school. And thanks to such agencies as the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education, students in the Kansas City area do learn about this dark history.
To add to the factual record, Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn and I wrote our book, They Were Just People: Stories of Rescue in Poland During the Holocaust.
But here and there around the country the question of whether the Holocaust is real history or just an opinion continues to get raised in shocking ways.
For instance, this Palm Beach Post story describes how the principal of a Florida high school told a mother in an e-mail that “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.”
He later suggested that his wording in the e-mail wasn't very good, but the fact that he felt called to say such a thing in the first place appalled the mother in question, who continued to push against a reluctant school system to make sure children were being taught true things about the Holocaust.
Schools are not free to make up falsehoods and declare them facts or to describe verifiable historical events as simply opinions. But sometimes it takes oversight by parents and public school taxpayers to make sure that what is taught as history is true.
As I look back on the history I was taught in high school I am aware of a lot that seems to have been missing, especially about the ways in which America's first European settlers crushed Native Americans and about the ways in which white supremacy was the predominant ideology on which our nation was founded. Later, in college history classes at the University of Missouri, some, but not all, of those themes got filled in.
The lesson here is that the truth cannot set us free if we never learn it. Do you know what history your children or grandchildren are learning in school? Maybe it's time to find out.
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ON THE EVE OF DESTRUCTION?
It's been clear for a long time that the Russian Orthodox Church is in bed with the Putin government. But here's a twist: Some church officials now are suggesting it might not be a good idea for Orthodox priests to continue conducting ceremonies in which nuclear weapons are blessed by the church. What's that church's version of Genesis say? That the first people were Atom and Eve?