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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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Robert Diethrich
Robert Diethrich
Feb 02, 2023

Our school did that musical about 20 years ago, and yes they had the Nazi banners for the Anschluss scene. Funny, a fairly devout Jewish student of mine told me she was there when the banners arrived from the flag company. She said it was kind of amusing seeing a swastika in the company's usual packaging with a smiley face saying "Enjoy your purchase." Also remember her telling me she had asked her rabbi if it was ok for her to be in the chorus, which required her to wear a nun's habit in the opening scene. The Rabbi said, "Of course since it was only play-acting and not part of any belief."


Jan 30, 2023

One time, while teaching 4th graders religion, I noticed that the boy's table were drawing swastikas. I promptly changed my lesson plans and talked about that and what it means. (FYI, that age self segregates)


Jan 29, 2023

The stupid ... it burns!

-Mark Roulo


Jan 29, 2023

To really have Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the use of words that some groups are not allowed to use should be banned in the classroom. It may build community in one group, but by its use being denied other groups, it build division, exclusion and inequity.


Jan 29, 2023

Any educator who believes that speech can be controlled along the lines of race or gender needs to be fired. SD

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