Teens in trouble after Nazi salutes go viral

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/19/teens-in-trouble-after-nazi-sa.html


I don’t think those kids should have done that.


“The larger issue is that we, as a community, must do an even better job of educating students about Hitler and the Holocaust,” he wrote. “While we do units on this in middle school, and we have had several Holocaust survivors speak at MHS, it has apparently not been enough to prevent yesterday’s incident.”

In other times, perhaps no later than 8 years ago, that programme would have been enough to prevent an incident like this. Today, though, these students are also getting mixed messages from the larger political discourse (where the “president” calls some Nazis “fine people”), from social media (where the alt-right uses the beard of “just joking” to normalise racism and anti-Semitism), and very likely from their bigoted parents and grandparents.

Holocaust survivors able to share their living memories are thinner and thinner on the ground every day, and reality-based history education is increasingly devalued in this country. When those final bulwarks give way the slimy flood of resurgent right-wing populism is only going to rise.


I wish I could argue with you on this and tell you that you’re wrong. I would be much happier about the current political climate if I could, but… :frowning:




Around here, they don’t teach about the Holocaust explicitly because “That would be too disturbing for the kids.” Field trips to DC exclude the Holocaust Museum on the same grounds. Of course, this is the same system that won’t teach sex ed because it “is too mature of a subject for children.” Children who have a ridiculously high rate of teen pregnancy due to lack of sex ed. And a ridiculously high rate of nazi tattoos and rebel flags, so I guess there is that benefit. (/s)


There is a need to educate earlier than middle school.

When I was in fourth grade (so about 9 years old) we did a unit on European exploration of North America, and our workbook had a black and white drawing of a galleon on it that we were encouraged to colour in. Having recently watched Raiders of the Lost Ark, I thought hey, why not draw a swastika on the sail? To me it was little different than drawing the Decepticon symbol - the Nazis were just vaguely non-fictional baddies. Needless to say, that was the most awkward conversation I ever had with a teacher. I felt horrible for drawing that symbol for weeks after I learned what the Nazis were really about.

Still, it was at least a couple more years till we actually covered it in class. I know people are worried about whether kids are emotionally prepared to handle this stuff, but at the same time I think there is a way the message could be delivered. It’s a topic I’ve insisted on discussing with my kids before they see it at school. I think if the message is repeated clearly enough early enough, it will head off this sort of thing.


That reminds me of the power and effectiveness of a well-designed history museum. If I could make it happen, a condition of graduation for every American K-12 student would be a trip to both the Holocaust Museum in DC and the Whitney Plantation museum outside New Orleans

Other courses that need to be standard parts of the curriculum: financial literacy and media literacy. Funding for education is a scandal in general, but school districts also make deliberate choices like this as to what’s worthy of funding and what’s not.


I only wish that there were some way that a concerned citizen like this superintendent of schools could do something to convince the schools to educate the children about the Holocaust, why Nazis are evil, and why we hate them so…


Our problem (I suspect) here is that there is a distinct subset of folks who actually do not think that the Nazis were all that bad, or wrong. I suspect the schools simply do not want to step into that wasps nest… Same with civil war history. We are in the old confederacy, in an area that never let it die. And yes, I am aware that these things are not unrelated.


Hard to believe. Minnetonka is such a diverse community.


Not only teach the history of the Holocaust, and the USA’s implicit support/ignorance of antiSemitism at the time, but also teach about the Armenian genocide, the rape of Nanking, the two-way “ethnic cleansing” during the Czech- Slovak -whoever wars of the 1990s.
There’s a fundamental lesson here about people’s tendancy to want to kill everyone not exactly like themselves.


viral nazi salutes, this was not the dystopian end of the world scenario I was expecting.


I’m starting to think we can rely on you to say things like this.

I grew up in the most diverse school system in the nation, and my high school was, if not majority, at least a plurality of Jewish kids. Nevertheless, we thought Nazis were hilarious, in much the same way as the Devil and Black Sabbath. (That dates me, right?)

The boys, at least, delighted in the naughtiness. Naziism was nothing to us but Hogan’s Heroes, and we thought our words had no consequences. I’m kind of glad times have changed, but at the same time, I suspect these boys got exactly the reaction they were looking for.




I like the foot note. Isn’t that like…Texas? Where they get rid of the actual events part of history (I think that’s part of the definition?) and replace it with that time when Jesus brought the Constitution down from Mt. Rushmore riding his raptor? Like in the famous painting? :thinking::nerd_face::face_with_hand_over_mouth:

1 Like

Do you mean Yugoslavia? Cause I think the dissolution of Czechoslovakia was relatively peaceful…


I visited the Czech Republic around June of 1993 and it seemed pretty peaceful. Maybe they had recovered from the ravages of war at that point, though.


If any parents find their kids making stupid jokes about Hitler/Nazis, I recommend making them read Maus (and talking about it with them). Worked wonders for my son. No more Hitler jokes.


I just think they had a peaceful transition, as did much of Eastern Europe. Yugoslavia was the only place where there was a protracted war based on ethnic nationalism which evolved largely after Tito’s death (which was a huge surprise to many people). In Romania you had the executive of Ceaucescu and his wife… but they just finished up the last war crimes trials on Yugoslavia a year or two ago (with one of the Croat general killing himself in court with poison after being sentenced).