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Thursday, May 24, 2007
This story has been out there for a couple weeks, but only today did I read Mark Steyn's Western Standard piece regarding this issue. To recount for those who may have not heard this story, some teachers in England have stopped teaching about the Holocaust because some of their students (i.e. Muslims) get a bit agitated when they hear something that contradicts what they are hearing at home. So to appease the willfully ignorant, history is swept under the rug. As Steyn mulled,
[Avoiding offense] is what most of us want to do, because if you're "causing offence" it can get pretty exhausting. In the Middle East, for example, I'm like those British and European schoolma'ams: on the whole, I avoid bringing up the Holocaust--in part because in the Muslim world it's a subject impervious to reason, but also because it's very disheartening to meet folks who are bright, witty, engaging, perceptive and then 40 minutes into the conversation you mention the Jews and discover that your bright, witty, engaging, et cetera companion is, at a certain level, nuts.
Last year, a poll found that 37 per cent of British Muslims agreed that British Jews are a legitimate target "as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East." Who wants to argue with that every time you mention the Second World War? Best just to drop the subject.

In 1984, George Orwell wrote, "Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past." The Muslim community in Europe does not yet "control" anything: they are, relatively, small in numbers, though big in certain cities and bigger still in the schools of those cities. Nevertheless, it is significant that, though still quite a long way from formal "control," they are already determining the shape of the future, and thus of the past. The Holocaust did happen. Millions did die. "Facts," said John Adams, "are stubborn things." But not in the Europe of 2007. Faced with serving a population far more stubborn than any mere fact, Continental teachers are quietly putting reality up for grabs. It's a small thing, initially--the sin of omission, of discreetly gliding over "controversy" in the interests of multicultural sensitivity.
These are straws in the wind, but there will be many more of them from a political and bureaucratic class anxious to avoid "causing offence." What other bits of reality will be chipped away from the curriculum in the years ahead? And will what's left be enough to glue a nation together? After all, if you can't agree on the past, you're unlikely to agree on the future.

A few months ago, I met the splendid prime minister of Australia, John Howard, on the day of a new education initiative to get the country's history taught (as he put it) as an "heroic national narrative." It's a marvelous phrase, but in Britain and much of Europe the classroom can no longer agree on who are the heroes and who are the villains.


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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »