Sam Kleiner, a third-generation Arizonan, a fellow at the Yale Law and Information Society Project and an occasional Tucson Weekly contributor, weighs in on the controversy over Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal's anonymous blog comments:
It is truly frightening that the man responsible for educating Arizona’s children grossly misrepresents the origins and nature of the Holocaust, the 20th Century’s greatest tragedy. For Jews living in Arizona, his anonymous blog post about Hitler hits particularly close to home; it borders on Holocaust denial. This awful rhetoric isn't the kind of thing that he should be able to just shy away from with antics at a press conference. he needs to be held accountable for this hatred.
In Huppenthal’s perverted worldview, Hitler was not uniquely evil. Huppenthal said, “It was Darwin, not Hitler, who named the Germans the master race” and started the push towards elimination of Jews. The reality is that Darwin was a scholar and that right-wing extremists, including a young Adolf Hitler, distorted his theory of evolution to justify heinous attempts to exterminate minorities. The attempt to link Darwin to Hitler has been a right-wing obsession to discredit Darwin’s theory of evolution. Professor Robert Richards has noted, “ it can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis.” Huppenthal is grossly ignorant of the horrible history of anti-Semitism in Europe that allowed Hitler to rise to power and for ordinary Germans to join in his campaign against the Jews.
In another one of Huppenthal’s perverted ideas, the founder of Planned Parenthood is portrayed as more than twice as bad as Hitler. Huppenthal wrote, “Hitler fed 6 million Jews into the ovens. Sanger has fed 16 million African-Americans into the abortion mills.” This attempt to link Sanger and Hitler exists in the darkest corners of the right-wing internet and it is utterly offensive to Jews. Abraham Foxman, the President of the Anti-Defamation League, has fought against this politicization of the Holocaust: “No Christian who understands Jewish suffering should resort to inappropriate comparisons to the Holocaust to send a message that abortion is wrong. This was one of the most painful chapters in human history. Must the memory of the 6 million and millions of other victims be continually misused and abused by those with another agenda?" Huppnethal is one of the right-wing extremists who has proven himself willing to use the memory of the Holocaust to try to push a political agenda.
John Huppenthal may not be a Holocaust denier but he certainly denies how uniquely awful the Holocaust was. Arizona’s Jews should not letting our children be educated by someone who so completely misrepresents our history and tries to misconstrue the darkest chapter in the 20th century’s history to score cheap political points on a blog.
Huppenthal has said he feels bad “if my comment offended anyone,” but he has not offered any apology to Arizona’s thousands of Jews and the many Holocaust survivors who live in Arizona At this point, an apology is too little and it is too late; he should resign. His time would be better spent trying to learn some basic history and he has shown himself unable to educate the next generation of Arizonans about this tragic episode of history.
Clint Smith is a teacher, writer, and doctoral candidate in Education at Harvard University studying incarceration, education,… More