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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

The sound of stupid

The Sound of Music is not the Nazi-glorifying Triumph of the Will, nor is it the Nazi-spoofing Springtime for Hitler. But it does have swastika-wearing Nazis: That's why the Von Trapp family has to "climb ev'ry mountain" to get out of Austria.

In a school newsletter, City Schools of Decatur (Georgia) Superintendent Maggie Fehrman condemned "the inclusion of a swastika" in the high school play, writing that "symbols of oppression are never acceptable in any context," reports Zoe Seiler in Decaturish.

Then she had to apologize for dissing the school musical and conflating it with another incident in which a teacher said the "n-word" while telling students to stop using it in physics class.

Fehrman identified herself "as a white woman and an anti-racist," and affirmed her commitment "to addressing and interrupting racism where and when I see it."

The district has hired a consultant to review its handling of the teacher who repeated the racial slur.

It's OK for black students to use the word, students told Tori Cooper of Atlanta News First. But it's not OK for whites.

Lindsey Davis, who's black, said that blacks who use the word are "using it in a positive light to build their community. . . . this is not a white people thing.”

“Black people have reclaimed the word and if they want to use the word among themselves and their friends they should be able to,” said classmate Kadence High.

Note that students are arguing that context matters.

The motto on Stanford University's seal translates from German as "the winds of freedom blow."

A Snapchat photo of a Stanford student reading Hitler's Mein Kampf led to a "Protected Identity Harm" complaint, reports Jaime Adame on Inside Higher Ed. That could lead to “mediation” or a “healing circle,” but is "not a judicial of investigative process," said administrators.

In a Jan. 25 letter, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) said that having “a formal reconciliation process to atone for reading a book,” even if participation is voluntary, is “unacceptably punitive” and chills "expressive activity."

A screenshot shows a young woman holding a paperback copy of Mein Kampf in a dorm room, writes Adame. She "has her forefinger on her closed lips with the fingernail facing outward; her brow is furrowed and eyes are narrowed. The image seems to convey an exaggeratedly thoughtful expression."

Is it making fun of the Holocaust? Mocking Hitler's prose or those inspired by his ideas?

Book banning is for Nazis, writes Julia Steinberg in Stanford Review, a conservative student publication. "No matter the context, we should not chastise students for reading controversial books, and we certainly should not spread an institutional message that 'feelings of safety and belonging' should be prioritized above academic freedom to read controversial books or the personal freedom to make an off-kilter joke."

Students in a humanities class were assigned to read excerpts from Mein Kampf last spring.

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