Editorial cartoon ‘appalling’

Published: 3/31/2023 2:50:37 PM
Modified: 3/31/2023 2:49:04 PM

Congratulations to Suzy Q. Groden for her eloquent and well-reasoned letter to the editor, which appeared on the Recorder’s March 30 opinion page. [“Editorial cartoon dead wrong about public education”]. The letter expressed her shock at the appalling cartoon that appeared on the same page the day before — shock which we share.

The cartoon portrays any education that aims to teach students to think for themselves, based on reflection and discussion and on an accurate account of both the good and the evil in our country’s history, as “indoctrination.” Indoctrination which is brutal and evil and unspeakably powerful.

In reality, accurate information and knowledge and the ability to consider and debate differing and conflicting ideas are the foundations of a democratic society. A student whose education has not helped them to develop those abilities is at risk of entering adulthood as an intellectual cripple, unable to evaluate even the craziest or most dangerous ideas if those ideas are presented forcefully enough.

Efforts to eliminate uncomfortable (but true) parts of history and control the flow of information and knowledge are the handmaidens of totalitarianism. One of the first things the Nazis did when they gained power was to burn books that they considered “dangerous,” meaning books that contradicted — often with historical or scientific proof, or with powerful philosophical arguments — their twisted view of the world. Controlling what people are allowed to know is a central feature of an authoritarian society.

As humans, we are all fallible, and at times our failures have caused untold suffering. If we want to maintain a pluralistic,democratic society, we have to be able to discuss our history, whether we are comfortable with it or not. That doesn’t mean assigning guilt or blame to those who are learning about it, but it does mean acknowledging what happened, and discussing how to cope with the aftermath.

Phil Rabinowitz, co-founder and former executive director, The Literacy Project

Carla Rabinowitz, former executive director, Citizens’ Educational Resource Center; former president, Athol-Royalston Education Foundation


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