Sunday, April 15, 2007

Dangerous Submission to 'Intolerance' of History

Reports by the British government's Dept for Education and Skills that secondary schools in England are dropping the Holocaust from history courses to avoid offending Muslim students should be alarming to all of us. This assault on history and memory is especially disturbing at a time when Holocaust denial is increasing, when the President of Iran hosts conferences to 'discuss' the veracity of the Holocaust, and when anti-semitic incidents in 2006 such as harassment at schools and Jewish community centers have doubled from 2005.
The countries with the greatest rise in anti-Semitism were Great Britain, Australia, France and Canada. In Great Britain, the number of violent anti-Semitic incidents was highest in the past 20 years, as more than 100 Jews were assaulted.
At a time when governments and institutions should be the first to stand up to such assaults, they are conspicuously silent, for fear of offending sensibilities. Apparently, British teachers don't want to deal with the subject of the Holocaust because, as press reports put it, "Fears Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel reactions in class."
The longer the West waits to confront these issues, the more difficult the battle will be.

Good-bye to Western Civilization
Barry Rubin
April 13, 2007
As a Middle East expert, I daily see material from Arab and Islamic sources containing hair-raising threats against America, Israel and the West, as well as media reports on the details of horrendous terrorist attacks. But this item in a British newspaper may be the scariest sentence I ever read. It's so frightening because the story reveals how the institution most entrusted with preserving democratic society and Western civilization--the school system--is betraying that trust. According to a report by the British government's Department for Education and Skills, schools in England are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils.
And here's the really scary sentence in the press reports: "Some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial." Get it? They are told at home or by Muslim preachers that the Holocaust never happened, and rather than challenge this misinformation, teachers are shutting up so as not to disturb a world view based on lies. By the same token, the Crusades are being dropped not even--though this is also not a good excuse--because that might stir social conflict but since "lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques." Moreover, teachers are dropping such material due to, as press reports put it, "Fears Muslim pupils might express anti-Semitic and anti-Israel reactions in class."

Similar reports have already appeared in France, where the rot has gone even further. Thus, 500 years of progress in open intellectual inquiry through the use of logic and evidence are abandoned. Rather than confront or challenge students, they will be left safe in their prejudices. Aside from the broader implications, such behavior constitutes a reinforcement of racism, intolerance, and hatred in the name of a philosophy--political correctness--which is supposed to combat these things. And to make things even worse, note that there have been no riots, no mass protests to demand the preservation of ignorance. This is not only surrender but one being offered voluntarily, without even being pressed or threatened.
Up until now, democratic, modern societies have successfully absorbed large numbers of immigrants because of the process of assimilation or, in milder form, acculturation. The idea, so successful in the United States, has been that immigrants must accept the society's rules. And why not, since it has been so successful? Indeed, the stability, freedom, and material benefits offered are the reasons why people came to the West in the first place. In addition, immigrants were free to keep most of their own culture and all of their religion. But now, it is the successful society that must adapt to less democratic ones. Where does it end? Can schools teach democracy to those told this is heresy because laws can only be made by God? Can evolution, or even intelligent design, if it contradicts what is said in mosques or might provoke complaints in class?
And what about the value of tolerance itself, since it might upset those who have been taught intolerance toward others? This new approach also condemns Muslim immigrants to be slaves of the radical Islamists among them. Rather than challenge extremism, the school would reinforce it. Students hungry for knowledge and freedom would be told to shut up and believe what their mullahs say. Any Muslim female student who did not want to wear concealing clothes or wanted personal freedom cannot depend on help or validation from French or British society. Instead, she is sentenced to imprisonment in a behavioral and intellectual ghetto. Finally, there is one more horrifying element--perhaps the worst of all--in what is happening in Europe: the passivity with which people are excusing or ignoring this revolution against freedom.
Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His co-authored book, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, (Oxford University Press) is now available in paperback and in Hebrew. His latest book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, was published by Wiley in November 2005. Prof. Rubin's columns can be read online at:

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