Respectful Insolence

One of the consistent themes of this blog has been combating Holocaust denial and, as a subtext, another consistent theme has been that passing laws to criminalize Holocaust denial (or, as has been attempted recently, criminalize “genocide denial“) or throwing Holocaust deniers like David Irving into jail is about as ill-advised an approach to fighting this particularly odious form of racism and anti-Semitism as I can imagine. It makes Holocaust denial the “forbidden fruit” and at the same time facilitates the truly disgusting spectacle of Holocaust deniers donning the mantle of free speech martyrs. My position all along has been that the way to combat Holocaust denial is with information about the Holocaust and by revealing the lies of Holocaust deniers for what they are. If idiocy like this stands, that battle just got a whole lot more difficult, at least in the UK:

Teachers are dropping controversial subjects such as the Holocaust and the Crusades from history lessons because they do not want to cause offence to children from certain races or religions, a report claims.

A lack of factual knowledge among some teachers, particularly in primary schools, is also leading to “shallow” lessons on emotive and difficult subjects, according to the study by the Historical Association.

The report, produced with funding from the Department for Education, said that where teachers and staff avoided emotive and controversial history, their motives were generally well intentioned.

“Staff may wish to avoid causing offence or appearing insensitive to individuals or groups in their classes. In particular settings, teachers of history are unwilling to challenge highly contentious or charged versions of history in which pupils are steeped at home, in their community or in a place of worship,” it concluded.

However, it was concerned that this could lead to divisions within school, and that it might also put pupils off history.


The Holocaust has scarcely decreased in its ability to cause horror and emotional responses, even over sixty years after the fall of the Third Reich, but at first I was rather puzzled over who is “offended” by teaching about the Holocaust? Nazis? Who cares? Holocaust deniers? Ditto. Germans? Possibly, but how many people in the U.K. of German descent are “offended” by teaching of the Holocaust? Is teaching the Holocaust “offending” U.K. teachers? If so, why? This is the sort of story that is so bizarre that it’s hard to understand. I should have known though. It turns out that the reason being given in one report for teachers’ reluctance to teach about the Holocaust is because it might offend Muslims, many of whom buy into anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial:

The report said teachers feared confronting “anti-semitic sentiment and Holocaust denial among some Muslim pupils”. Christian parents at another school complained about the way the Arab-Israeli conflict was taught.

“In another department, the Holocaust was taught despite anti-semitic sentiment among some pupils, but the same department deliberately avoided teaching the Crusades at Key Stage 3 (for 11- to 14-year-olds) because their balanced treatment of the topic would have directly challenged what was taught in some local mosques.”

Once again, if teaching the Holocaust offends Muslims of a mind to be anti-Semitic and believers in Holocaust denial (or any anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust, for that matter), so what?

I’m not entirely clear why teaching the Crusades is conflated with teaching the Holocaust in this report. For one thing, it’s becoming more and more common to teach the Crusades from a more pro-Muslim point of view than ever. Be that as it may, the Holocaust happened. As a matter of Nazi policy, some five to six million Jews were murdered. It started out by systematically stripping them of their rights, proceeded to expelling them to the East from German-occupied territories, escalated to mobile killing squads known as the Einsatzgruppen, who roamed the Eastern Front in the wake of the Wermacht’s advance, slaughtering Jews and Communist officials as they found them, and culminated with industrialized killing machines, death camps, in which Jews were processed and killed in gas chambers or died of intentional starvation and overwork. I’m not sure how you can teach even a watered-down version of what really happened without risking “offending” anti-Semites who believe either that there was no Nazi plan to exterminate the Jews, that the death toll was vastly exaggerated, and/or that the Jews provoked the Nazis and deserved what they got.

Worse, this sort of political correctness and bending over backward not to “offend” or not to teach anything that conflicts with what children are being taught at home can utterly suck the interest out of the topic. One thing that I came to appreciate over time learning history is just how messy events of the past are, just as messy as the events of today are. The difference is that we have the perspective of decades or hundreds of years to see patterns and how events of the past played out in a way that the people living then couldn’t (and that, for that matter, we can’t perceive about how the events of our own day will play out). Teaching history that way can make it come alive. Back when I was in junior high school, I still remember how one particular teacher of mine taught the origins of the Civil War. After teaching the background, he divided the class up into groups, one for the North, one for the South, told us to imagine ourselves as legislators in Congress of the time representing our states, and then had us debate all the issues that contributed to the Civil War, including slavery, states’ rights, slavery in the territories, and economic issues. Ask yourself: How often do you remember a class exercise from junior high? Well, I remember that one, because it made the issues memorable.

One aspect that I find interesting about this is how some conservatives who have a problem with evolution reacted to this. For example, over at William Dembski’s home for wayward antievolutionists, we get this commentary:

It is disturbing that this is where education in the United Kingdom is heading. Teachers are encouraged to gloss over one of the greatest tragedies of the twentieth century because it might offend some people’s sensibilities or religious background. Though we have survivors, documented evidence, and hard proof that it occurred, educators do not wish to teach it because it might be offensive.

However, if you happen to believe that God created the world, or a deity of some sort, then please do not raise your voice in class. That is your opinion. They will not teach the Holocaust because it might offend a radical sect of the population – but they will teach Darwinian evolution even though the majority of the population does not accept it fully?

This shows that some educators are more willing to deny the Holocaust, or at least sweep it under a rug, than abandon Darwinian evolution. Is this a sign of things to come?

I was amused by this because, after thinking about it a minute, I’m not so sure that this is the analogy that the creationists really want to make. In essence, whether the person who wrote this realizes it or not, he is equating the teaching of real history (the Holocaust) and real science (evolution, even though he doesn’t believe that evolution is real science) in schools. By implication, he seems to be equating creationists whose complaints and politicking against the teaching of evolution in public schools have led to many biology teachers glossing over evolution, teaching a watered down version of it, or ignoring it altogether, to Muslims who are anti-Semitic and/or Holocaust deniers, whose sensitivities seem to be leading some British history teachers to gloss over Holocaust history, teach a watered down version of it, or ignore it altogether. Be that as it may, also notice the not-so-subtle argumentum ad Nazi-ium here, in which, as Joshua points out, teachers are portrayed as being more willing to become Holocaust deniers (not true; they’re simply willing to water down the teaching of the Holocaust to avoid offending) than to become evolution deniers. This would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad and hypocritical, given how hard creationists have been pushing to overthrow the teaching of evolution in the U.S. over the last couple of decades.

There are many topics that can be potentially contentious, spanning multiple disciplines, including history, social studies, science (with evolution being the most prominent example), and literature (you know how some on the left want to purge all those “dead white men” from the works that students should be required to read). If these subjects are taught well and correctly, it’s virtually impossible not to gore someone’s oxen. It’s also impossible to insulate public school education completely from the political process, nor would it necessarily be desirable to do so, because public schools depend upon the support of the public to maintain political support to keep them funded adequately. Even so, there needs to be a mechanism too keep fringe elements like rabid anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers from imposing their demonstrably incorrect views of history indirectly, through causing Holocaust history teaching to be downplayed or so watered down that students do not appreciate the enormity of what happened.

Comments

  1. #1 TheProbe
    April 3, 2007

    Of course teaching the Holocaust offends Muslims. The reasons are quite simple.

    First, one must remember that prior to WWII there were many incidents where Muslims murdered Jews living in the Middle East. The 1938(?) massacre at Hebron comes to mind.

    Then, during WWII, Muslims supported the Nazis. When the Nazis lost, more Jews came to the Middle East. Do you think any Muslim would want to admit that they chose the losing side which resulted in the creation of a Jewish State?

    Further, Arabs love to play “victim”. Look at the creation of the term “Palestinian”. Technically, it should apply to anyone living in Palestine. However, the spin doctors of the propaganda machine created it to apply solely to Arabs who were displaced in 1948. Thus, a handy-dandy term for a group that their fellow Arabs continue to victimize.

    Yes, we cannot show Muslims that Jews were murdered by their allies. They would remove the Palestinian claim to victimhood.

  2. #2 qalmlea
    April 3, 2007

    This brings to mind a quote, though I have no idea what the original source or wording might be: “Trying not to offend anyone invariably offends everyone.”

  3. #3 wolfwalker
    April 3, 2007

    Now this is a case of religious beliefs causing a serious problem, that needs to be taken seriously and fought as hard as possible.

    Be that as it may, also notice the not-so-subtle argumentum ad Nazi-ium here, in which, as Joshua points out, teachers are portrayed as being more willing to become Holocaust deniers (not true; they’re simply willing to water down the teaching of the Holocaust to avoid offending) than to become evolution deniers.

    I’m not sure this qualifies as argumentum ad nazium (though I’m not always sure what meets that definition). The conclusion I take from this story is a genuinely frightening one, for two different reasons:

    1) it’s perfectly obvious that this watering-down of the Holocaust is being done out of simple fear — fear of what radical Muslims might do if their children are taught about the Holocaust in a historically accurate way. To put it bluntly, this is being done because British educational authorities are scared they’ll be targeted for murder and mayhem.

    2) if extremist social or religious elements here in the US ever decide that the threat of violence is an acceptable way to get what they want, our system will collapse in an eyeblink. The more we see stories like this coming from overseas, the more likely that becomes.

  4. #4 S. Rivlin
    April 3, 2007

    I think that an important reason for why techers avoid teaching the Holocaust and the fear of offending Muslims has to do with the new reality of terrorism. The subway bombing in London along with the threats of blowing up passenger planes bound to the US have instilled in many people those fears. Our American administration has contributed a great deal to this fear by continuously playing the “terror” card for their own political gains. The Holocaust denial game played by the Iranian president along with the threat of acquiring nuclear weapons and the success of the Arab propaganda machine in blaming Israel (Jews, Zionists) for all the troubles in the Middle East, have made the Holocaust an issue not worthwhile teaching if by doing so one can keep terrorists at bay. As disgusting as it is, fear can make people do things they never have thought they are capable of doing, including rewriting history.

  5. #5 Matt Penfold
    April 3, 2007

    A couple of points.

    First, It is too simplisitic to claim that “muslims” supported the Nazis. Some did, for example the Iraqi King was a Nazi supporter, but then muslims also served in the British Army fighting in North Africa against the Nazis. Indeed there was a Palistinian Brigade established. There was also a Jewish Brigade but then there were also Jews killing British soldiers in Jerusalem.

    Second, the reluctance to teach the holocaust may also be getting caught up in the criticism of the history curriculum taught in British schools as being all Romans, Tudors and Nazis.

  6. #6 PlanetaryGear
    April 3, 2007

    This would be doing us all a disservice teaching our children that the world is a warm fuzzy place where people always behave in a sane and polite manner. We’ve already seen what happens when this delusion is carried through to adulthood. Nobody can believe what is happening until it’s too late. Oh, they would NEVER do something like that, as you’re being marched off to the next set of camps for mass execution.

    Our children and our neighbors and everyone need to know just how cruel and insane people can be. They need to understand and suspect that of our leaders and everybody elses leaders. I’m tired of hearing what amounts to people plugging their ears, closing their eyes and singing LALALALALA I DONT HEAR YOU at the top of their lungs to keep from seeing nasty and scary things.

  7. #7 Catherina
    April 3, 2007

    I am glad that particular idiocy has not reached our school (in Scotland) yet. The 7th graders just did WW2 including Holocaust and a very balanced view of what Germans did to Brits and Brits did to Germans.

  8. #8 S. Rivlin
    April 3, 2007

    The great Mufti of Palestine in the 1930-40s, Haj Al Amin Al Hussaini (an uncle of Yasser Arafat), was a great Nazi supporter who visited Germany during WWII, was photographed with Hitler and other Nazi dignitaries and publically promised his hosts to help them solved the Jewish problem in Palestine. If one could read the books that Palestinians today are teaching their school children, one would find that they are not different in their anti-Semetic fervor from the Nazi propaganda of the 1930s and that they include variations on the myth of the Elders of Zion.

  9. #9 Ginger Yellow
    April 3, 2007

    Crossposted from Ed’s place:

    The study can be found here. It makes for fairly depressing reading, but at the same time these specific incidents of schools avoiding contentious subjects seem to be isolated – ie there is a systematic mistreatment of contentious issues but no systematic avoidance of, say, the holocaust. A lot of the study’s focus is on how teachers do teach contentious issues, but do it in a bland, by the book way so as to avoid causing offence/trouble. It should also be noted that, contra Joel, it’s not just talking about issues whose reality is disputed by some, but rather issues whose significance is – Britain’s role in the slave trade, the Soviet revolution and so on.

    There are many problems with the British education system, not least the rise of state funded religious schools with little oversight of curricula, but on the other hand the centralised nature of most public education significantly restricts the potential for things like creationism or holocaust denialism to creep into lessons.

    The thing that has me most disturbed in British education, even more than creationism in the City Academies, is the granting of BScs by universities in nonsense subjects like homeopathy. It’s one thing to be teaching its placebo effects to doctors, but it’s another thing entirely to pretend it’s a science. See here for a round-up of material on the subject. For all our irreligiosity and cynicism, Britain seems to be spectacularly susceptible to woo.

  10. #10 Justin Moretti
    April 3, 2007

    singing LALALALALA I DONT HEAR YOU at the top of their lungs to keep from seeing nasty and scary things.

    As some of my friends do when I point out that one of our opponents in the middle east is an anti-semitic holocaust denier who wants nuclear weapons, while another (whom our new Iraqi allies have, for better or worse, since executed) was a demagogue who possessed and used chemical weapons, who wanted to obtain more ‘special weapons’ (and had to be disabused of this attempt by the destruction of his means – i.e. Osirak), and who – regardless of whether he possessed them when he was deposed – would arguably have desired to possess them again once people’s backs were turned.

    This is in fact one of the things that justifies the Iraq war for me – not the actuality of the WMD now (from the 2003 perspective), but the potential for them later, when everyone got tired of watching. That is the parallel with Nazi rearmament. People didn’t watch, didn’t act, didn’t want to act, until finally what they faced was unstoppable and acted upon them.

    I would rather be proved wrong by the invasion of Iran uncovering no evidence of enrichment plants or bomb parts, than be proved right by shocked Jewish refugees setting out on another diaspora because their homeland is an uninhabitable horror. The world does not need another failure to prevent that sort of bullshit.

    Britain, of all places, should be best at resisting the demands of terrorists. Britain, of all places, should have been the one nation that the terrorists should have known would cope. Britain should be used to terrorist bombings; perhaps in that respect the Luftwaffe and the IRA are owed a perverse debt of thanks.

    Or has Britain entered a phase of Lloyd-Georgeism, where the price to be paid is irrelevant so long as it’s not paid by Britons?

  11. #11 Justin Moretti
    April 3, 2007

    Correction: for “Britain should be used to terrorist bombings”, read “Britain should be insulated against…”

    Certainly the picture that I got (through the Australian press) was a nation which, while horrified by the deaths (and who wouldn’t be), responded more with defiance and resilience than shock and disbelief that it could really be happening to them (because it has, time and again).

  12. #12 matt
    April 3, 2007

    The commenters above overstate somewhat in implying that UK teachers are cowering behind their desks, beseiged by religious terrorists. The Holocaust is currently an optional subject, so schools are at liberty to teach it or not. It is expected to be reclassified as compulsory in the new national curriculum from next year, at which point this particularly kind of dismal pandering to religious bigotry should go away. I don’t doubt there’ll be other kinds, but given the overwhelming and misplaced “respect” offered to religion in our societies, it’s hard to see what can be done about that…

  13. #13 Dianne
    April 3, 2007

    Germans?

    I went to school in the US, but I lived in Germany for several years and during that time borrowed a friend’s son’s history book to see what German children were being taught about the Holocaust. The answer turns out to be quite a lot with a very clear statement that it happened, it was evil, and the populace and culture were the primary reasons it happened. Yes, Hitler was a dictator. No, his party never obtained more than 30% of the votes. Yes, a number of people did help Jews, Gypsies, Communists, and other “undesirables” to survive. But in essence the Holocaust couldn’t have occurred if something in German society didn’t allow a man like Hitler and a party like the Nazis to come into power. A certain amount of discussion of how to avoid it in the future is also included. So that’s what they’re teaching in Germany. Or at least what they were teaching in Heidelberg 5-10 years ago.

  14. #14 Dunc
    April 3, 2007

    Hmmm, I have to admit to being slightly sceptical of the general thrust of these article. There are many factors which influence the choice of curricula, and I don’t see any strong evidence presented that this particular reason is widespread. All we have are a bunch of individual, ancedotal reports (“some schools”, “one teacher”, etc). Given that both the Times and the Telegraph seem to be invested in the “Clash of Civilisations” narrative, I’d want some better evidence and a good solid look at the actual research these stories are based on.

    I’m not saying that it’s not an issue, but I am sceptical of the way it’s presented in the press.

  15. #15 Ginger Yellow
    April 3, 2007

    Dunc, I linked to the original research above. It’s certainly not as sensationalist as the Times article, but it does highlight a real problem. The focus of the report is not on teachers avoiding emotive and controversial issues, however, it’s on how best to teach them. It also emphasises that there are now more opportunities to teach these subjects than before.

  16. #16 Joshua
    April 3, 2007

    as Joshua points out

    This is so confusing. =(

  17. #17 Peter Mexbacher
    April 3, 2007

    >Germans?

    In Germany and Austria we have the opposite problem: not lack of teaching, but too much. In the meantime there are entire school classes who hear nothing but holocaust (the whole upper grades from 14-18 years age at least) in their history lessons. They do not even know any other historical facts except for the Holocaust.

    Holocaust is becoming part of “general culture” – you here it every day on the news, in the papers, on TV, on radio – do not misunderstand please: not as “entertainment”, but rather in self-accusatory tone which reminds of medieval flagellantism (the stage of critical self-accusation was in the 70s and 80s – this had to be topped in the 90s and is reaching ridiculous levels today).

    It is even seeping into normal conversations – you can bet some reference to Nazis/Holocaust turns up somewhere, in the most far removed topics.

    This has become so much of a problem here in Germany and Austria that is it a political weapon: if you want to ruin somebody, mention him in context with Holocaust (this goes in every political direction, recently extreme left wing author Günther Grass has been publicly disgraced for his coming out that he was in the Waffen-SS as a 17-year old for two months (gasp!) despite evidentially not committing any crimes.

    I find this very interesting, because normally it is taken for granted that teaching holocaust is a good thing – but has it occurred that there is such a thing as going too far? Especially, when, as in Germany and Austria, all other crimes (like from Stalinism) are “belittled” because the only “real crime” ever committed was the Holocaust (I do not want to belittle the Holocaust – inferring this from my post would be a logical error). (And behold, saying this much would get me flamed to death in any German speaking country – I hope not here).

    Regards,
    Peter

  18. #18 Jonathan Dobres
    April 3, 2007

    I was raised Jewish and came from a predominantly Jewish suburb in New Jersey. Holocaust education was a huge part of our curriculum, beginning as early as seventh grade. Orac, you spoke about that memorable Civil War lesson? I distinctly remember the day my teacher split us into groups, gave us all hypothetical social backgrounds, and simulated what it was like to have the Nazis come to town and tell everyone to pack up. She was an excellent teacher and her curriculum was full of lessons like this, but she was always sensitive to the potentially traumatic (or offensive) nature of the material. Indeed, I remember one girl once bursting into tears during one of the more straightforward lessons. The teacher consoled her and then pressed on with our educations.

    This was perhaps ten years ago, and I’m not sure that these lessons could be taught today, at least in many parts of our country. I find that very sad. My holocaust education was extensive, in fact, almost overboard after several years, but many of the lessons I learned have stayed with me even a decade later. What good is education if it DOESN’T confront your expectations of the world?

    And incidentally, I’ve always had one nit to pick about the standard view of the Holocaust. Yes, it was the event in which six million Jews were systematically murdered. No argument there. My problem is that this is where the sentence typically stops, leaving out the fact that there were six million OTHER people who were just as ruthlessly exterminated for various reasons (gypsies, homosexuals, political enemies, the disabled, you name it). I’ve always felt that those groups are in some way being left out of the historical remembrance.

  19. #19 Flex
    April 3, 2007

    I’ve been slowly arriving at the viewpoint that we are teaching history itself incorrectly.

    Sure, there are plenty of ways to teach history, and plenty of ways that allow students to learn history. But my own high school history courses never reached the present day. I think we got as far as spending one week on WWII at the very end of the year. (Our instructor was an American Civil War specialist and we spent about 8 weeks on the Civil War alone. Crazy.)

    In our American history courses, we would start serious study with the Revolutionary war and plod on until the end of the school year, covering what we could in the time allotted.

    Those were the last formal history courses I have taken, but since then I’ve become more and more interested in history.

    What I find fascinating about history is how it relates to current events.

    Is there any reason one couldn’t teach history by picking a current event and tracing the causes of that event back through time? I mean, if you started with the election of the current Iranian president, you could trace back the history to the overthrow of the Shah, to American support during the cold war, to the importance of the middle-east during WWII, to the formation of the current states after WWI, to WWI itself and the Arab revolts, to the young Turks, to the Ottoman Empire, etc.

    Pick an event and find the causes, then follow the causes back. I think it would be an interesting way to learn history as well as giving students some understanding of how history relates to the decisions made today.

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I crazy? Or would this be too hard to teach?

  20. #20 daedalus2u
    April 3, 2007

    What bothers me, is not so much how history it taught/not taught, but how our so-called “leaders” are dealing with genocide in multiple places in Africa right now.

    “Never again”? An empty slogan politicians give lip service to.

    Clinton didn’t intervene in Rwanda, and has blamed himself every since, and will to his dying day. He did intervene in Kosovo, and Haiti, and did stop violence in both places. Despite the political heat he took from the Republicans, only out to damage him.

    Bush intervene to stop genocide? Sorry, that is not one of Bush’s “strategic” interests.

  21. #21 Justin Moretti
    April 3, 2007

    Bush intervene to stop genocide? Sorry, that is not one of Bush’s “strategic” interests.

    Whatever kudos I give Bush for sticking the course in Iraq, I have to say he’s wrong for not having done this.

    * sigh * It makes me wonder, sometimes, why the Colonial powers (particularly the British) ever bothered pulling out. One gets the feeling that some of the colonized places were better off with them in control… (Not denying anyone’s right to self-determination; just that when self-determination ends in corruption, nepotism and tribally motivated Genocide, maybe European Colonialism is the lesser of the two evils. But everything’s easy with the retrospectoscope.)

  22. #22 Ted
    April 3, 2007

    One gets the feeling that some of the colonized places were better off with them in control…

    Ahh, but White Man’s Burden is too much to bear.

  23. #23 Paul Sunstone
    April 4, 2007

    These days, a lot of us treat truth as if it were a consumer product in a competitive economy. If we don’t like the “brand” offered us, we feel perfectly justified to shop around for the “brand” we like. When schools bow to that consumer demand, ’tis gone too far.

  24. #24 Dunc
    April 4, 2007

    Ginger Yellow: Dunc, I linked to the original research above. I see you tried, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have worked.

    Justin Moretti: It makes me wonder, sometimes, why the Colonial powers (particularly the British) ever bothered pulling out. One gets the feeling that some of the colonized places were better off with them in control… (Not denying anyone’s right to self-determination; just that when self-determination ends in corruption, nepotism and tribally motivated Genocide, maybe European Colonialism is the lesser of the two evils. But everything’s easy with the retrospectoscope.)

    Well, as a Brit, I can perhaps offer some perspective…

    Firstly, the economics of empire appear to be fundamentally unsustainable. They certainly were in our case, and I can’t think of any empire in history that hasn’t run into that problem if it’s survived long enough. Secondly, you can only repress people’s legitimate desire for self-determination for so long.

    I also have to observe that much of the “corruption, nepotism and tribally motivated Genocide” that you refer to was caused (or at least exacerbated), either directly or indirectly, by our attempts to maintain a degree of political and economic influence in the post-colonial era. We backed despots, we armed militias, we bought or bribed governments. We still do.

    However, in the final analysis, I’m not really a fan of reductive, utilitarian arguments in favour of political arrangements which I believe to be fundamentally immoral. Some means can never be justified, whatever the ends. I believe the right of self-determination is the fundamental political right, in much the same way that habeus corpus is the fundamental legal right – without it, all other rights are meaningless.

    There’s one thing I’ll say for living in the decaying remnants of a former world-spanning empire (two, actually – we’ve got the remains of the Roman Empire here too) – it gives you an appreciation of the limits of power.

  25. #25 Flex
    April 4, 2007

    Justin Moretti wrote: “It makes me wonder, sometimes, why the Colonial powers (particularly the British) ever bothered pulling out.”

    I just finished a book discussing just that topic; “Churchill’s Folly: How Winston Churchill Created Modern Iraq.”

    The basic reason suggested was that the territory gained in Mesopotamia by the British during WWI did not generate enough income to pay for it’s own development or defence. After WWI, the British taxpayer was paying for the maintenance of troops scattered all over the middle-east. Egypt, Turkey, Persia (now Iran), Mesopotamia and the entire Arabian peninsula. There were other problems too, like which British government office was in control and local Arab nationalist sentiments. But if the region had shown a profit like India, or was necessary for strategic troop movements like Egypt and the Suez canal, or was necessary to prevent the USSR from invading like Persia, the English may have stayed until after WWII.

    One problem identified with European colonialism is that there is a lack of commitment to the subjected nation. Why did the British allow India to leave the Empire? Well, one reason was that after about 200 years of British presence, India was no longer generating enough wealth to balance the cost of British presence. Like the American Civil War, there are a multitude of reasons for the nationalization of India, but the debt situation was certainly one major factor in the analysis.

    And that is an example of one of the longer term colonies. The European colonies in Africa were far more rapacious, both of the people and the resources of the lands. Colonization is not a very sustainable strategy.

  26. #26 Ginger Yellow
    April 4, 2007

    “Ginger Yellow: Dunc, I linked to the original research above. I see you tried, but unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have worked.”

    Sorry about that. You can find it easily enough from the homepage of the History Association at http://www.history.org.uk

  27. #27 Dunc
    April 4, 2007

    Thanks Ginger – I’m sure I could’ve found it myself if I’d tried harder… ;)

    So, perusing this report, I see that these stories have basically lifted a couple of sentences from section 4, subsection 6 (pp 15 of 48) and constructed their main narrative from that. And that all the papers that have reported this (that I’ve seen) have taken the same couple of sentences and constructed the same narrative… Notice that the headlines and lede paras in both the Times and Telegraph treatments are virtually identical, and demonstrate a laser-like focus on one small part of this report that can be used to fuel the continuing demonisation of Muslims. We have direct references to “the Holocaust and the Crusades” (the first being an obvious dog-whistle on the idea of Muslim anti-semitism) in para 1 in both, but no mention of the other main “controversial topic” the report looked at, the Telegraph has a direct reference to “fears that Muslim pupils might express anti-semitic reactions” in para 4, and we finally get a mention of “Christian parents [who] complained about the way the Arab-Israeli conflict was taught” in para 9, despite these both appearing in the same para of the report they’re cribbed from.

    Truly, never is scepticism more warranted than when reading the newspaper…

  28. #28 Bob Dowling
    April 4, 2007

    And that all the papers that have reported this (that I’ve seen) have taken the same couple of sentences and constructed the same narrative…

    This suggests that someone with a vested interest has sent them a press release. This seems to be the SOP these days. Journalists don’t do any work; they just wait for the press releases to arrive and print them edited only to fit.

  29. #29 Dunc
    April 4, 2007

    This suggests that someone with a vested interest has sent them a press release.

    I suppose that’s possible… Personally I tend more to the point of view that journos have an excellent sense of the current zietgeist and play to it. Unfortunately that sets up an unmoderated positive feedback loop.

  30. #30 Sarah13
    April 4, 2007

    Flex, I had a very similar experience in my Texas high school and am in 100% agreement with you. History should be taught differently. As more time goes by, the harder it will be to get caught up with present day. We barely made it to the Vietnam war before I graduated.
    I am the kind of person that learns by taking things apart, not from starting from the ground up. I think many many people would be more knowledgeable about the current state of the world if history was taught from the present backwards. But I honestly don’t know how hard that would be to implement, especially when it comes to disagreements on what the actual causes of certain events were.
    For example, if you start with a certain premise, you can almost always find evidence to support it, whether that evidence (or the premise for that matter) is really true or not, since it is often subject to interpretation.

  31. #31 Grumpy Physicist
    April 4, 2007

    US (and state) history courses in US public schools seem to be organized in the way that the local politicians find most comfortable. Which is unfortunate, because real history is rarely ‘comfortable’.

    But I can certainly understand a teacher preferring to avoid a contentious subject if they don’t feel prepared to wade into battle. Leaving aside insane parents, and their complaints to school administrators, boards, state agencies, and news media, a teacher has have a lot of facts and rhetorical resources at their fingertips to take on holocaust deniers in the classroom. Or creationists. Or flat-earthers.

    An alternative, of course, is to punch the holocaust deniers in the face, then deny having done so. That would be wrong, of course, but would feel so right.

  32. #32 Ginger Yellow
    April 4, 2007

    “This suggests that someone with a vested interest has sent them a press release.

    I suppose that’s possible… Personally I tend more to the point of view that journos have an excellent sense of the current zietgeist and play to it.”

    The Times and the Telegraph are both conservative papers. The Telegraph in particular has both an anti-Muslim slant and an “Education has gone to the dogs” slant. That said, I’m sure the Historical Society did send them a press release.

  33. #33 Dunc
    April 5, 2007

    The Times and the Telegraph are both conservative papers. The Telegraph in particular has both an anti-Muslim slant and an “Education has gone to the dogs” slant.

    Oh yes, I know all about the Torygraph… I think they’re still running stories about Arthur Scargill’s Nazi gold. ;)

    That said, I’m sure the Historical Society did send them a press release.

    Yeah, but I expect it would be the one that’s on their wesite, or at least fairly close to it – I just can’t see them spinning their own (perfectly good) report so heavily. However, after giving the matter some more thought, I now agree that there must be a press release of some sort involved – after all, no denizen of Fleet Street worth his luncheon vouchers is going to actually read a 48-page report on the teaching of history… The question is, who sent it?

  34. #34 bernarda
    April 9, 2007

    I check in every couple a months to be sure that orac is still on his “combatting holocaust denial” hobby horse. Never disappointed.

    Of course the holocaust only lasted about 4 years and slavery lasted about 400, or more.

    But for zionist fanatics, the only thing that is important in history is the holocaust.

    If you are worried about supposed anti-semitism, it is the zionists who continually reinvent it to try to justify the unjustifiable: the existence of Israel.

    Holocaust talk today has one sole purpose: prevent criticism of apartheid Israel.

    For those of you who understand French, here is a press conference with some anti-zionist Rabbis who are of the same opinion as me.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnFUIx7OdTQ

    So are these Rabbis anti-semites?

  35. #35 Coin
    April 9, 2007

    Of course the holocaust only lasted about 4 years and slavery lasted about 400, or more.

    It’s probably worth pointing out that if bernarda actually cared about historical discussions of slavery, he could have just participated in the ongoing debate on that exact subject which has been going on at Ed Brayton’s blog on this very site for about a month now.

    But, of course, bernarda actually doesn’t care one way or the other whether anyone talks about slavery; he just doesn’t want people to talk about the holocaust.

  36. #36 Dark Matter
    April 13, 2007

    Mr. “Shaking my keyboard in anger” Justin Moretti wrote:

    This is in fact one of the things that justifies the Iraq war for me – not the actuality of the WMD now (from the 2003 perspective), but the potential for them later, when everyone got tired of watching.

    http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/history/husseinindex.htm

    —————————————————————–

    US and British Support for Hussein Regime

    US intelligence helped Saddam’s Ba`ath Party seize power for the first time in 1963. Evidence suggests that Saddam was on the CIA payroll as early as 1959, when he participated in a failed assassination attempt against Iraqi strongman Abd al-Karim Qassem. In the 1980s, the US and Britain backed Saddam in the war against Iran, giving Iraq arms, money, satellite intelligence, and even chemical & bio-weapon precursors. As many as 90 US military advisors supported Iraqi forces and helped pick targets for Iraqi air and missile attacks.

    ——————————————————————

    There’s a nice picture of ol’ Donny shaking hands with Hussein and a lot more info on US-Iraq relations.

    He was always Our Monster.

    Keep your “moral outrage” to yourself, you fraud….

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.