An English teacher at Hayward’s Mt. Eden High School may have gone a little too Kanye West, adding to the curriculum a pamphlet that accuses Jewish people of a “Well-outlined Plan for World Dictatorship.”
Tenth grade English students at Haywards Mt. Eden High School have Elie Wiesel’s holocaust memoir Night as part of their curriculum, a fine choice for historical perspective. But according to a Tuesday report from the Jewish News of Northern California, one teacher on staff decided to both-sides that with a “Jewish secrets” exposé, with the pretty conspiratorial-sounding title “The Hidden Tyranny: The Issue that Dwarfs All Other Issues, the Satanic Power which Promotes and Directs Chaos in Order to Lay Low All Civilization in Preparation for a Well-outlined Plan for World Dictatorship.”
If you think the Kanye West reference above is glib, realize that teacher Henry Bens also has a November Facebook post declaring “What is a Holocaust? The definition of this experience will determine if Kyrie, Ye, or anyone else are correct!” The Jewish News also reports that Bens “on numerous occasions also made the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute, students say.”
Today the Chronicle reports that Bens has been placed on leave. The Hayward Unified School District put out a statement saying the district “does not condone or tolerate any type of hateful or biased rhetoric, including anti-Semitism. We take these allegations very seriously, and the teacher alleged to have made such statements and used inappropriate materials is currently on a leave of absence. Students from all backgrounds and religions should feel welcome and safe to express themselves while they learn, and that is the kind of district we aim to be. Hatred and discrimination, in any form, has never been welcome in our district.”
Hardly satisfied by this effort, Anti-Defamation League deputy regional director Teresa Drenick called this extracurricular handout “one of the most virulently antisemitic texts in existence,” and said Bens’s teaching was “a master class in antisemitism.”
The real trouble for district administrators here is that the student complaints over this first surfaced in mid-December, according to the Chronicle. Actions were not taken until numerous students showed up to voice concerns at a February 15 school board meeting, and media reports started showing up in the Jewish News of Northern California.
Mt. Eden is currently on a week-long break, and classes are not in session. But when students return, the school’s history department is reportedly planning a lesson plan on antisemitism. “As a department, we’re very upset,” history department chair Annie Mladinich told the Chronicle. “There’s no two sides to the Holocaust or to Hitler.”
Image: Charlenbe C. via Yelp