Last night, I was absolutely flabbergasted to hear, on Fox News, about an assignment in a California school, in which 8th graders were asked to write an 18 page essay about the Holocaust and “whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth.”
You can read all about this controversy in a news article here.
According to the news article, these California students were given “three sources to use to write their essays. One of the sources reportedly alleges the gassings in concentration camps were a “hoax” and there is no evidence Jews actually died in gas chambers.”
This quote is from the news article:
The [first] source, [given in the assignment] traced to a webpage on biblebelievers.org.au, states: “With all this money at stake for Israel, it is easy to comprehend why this Holocaust hoax is so secretly guarded. In whatever way you can, please help shatter this profitable myth. It is time we stop sacrificing America’s welfare for the sake of Israel and spend our hard-earned dollars on Americans.”
The other two sources were from About.com and History.com, KTLA-TV reports.
In a follow-up news article about the essay assignment, the biblebelievers.org.au website article is criticized because it states that the Diary of Anne Frank is a fraud. This is a mistake in the website article, which I noticed. I blogged about this controversy at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2010/02/19/the-dairy-of-anne-frank-is-it-authentic/
The purpose of this 8th grade assignment was to teach students “critical thinking.” When I was in the 8th grade, back in the Dark Ages, there was no such thing as “critical thinking.” I had to look up this term on the Internet to find out exactly what it means. I found a definition which I am quoting below:
A well-cultivated critical thinker:
Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely
Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
Comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards
Thinks openmindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as needs be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences
Communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems
I have not had any training in “Critical Thinking,” but here is how I would answer the question on the assignment:
The term “Holocaust” is the name given to a number of events, involving the Jews, which happened in Europe during the period between 1933 and 1945. The details of these events are quite controversial and there are two schools of thought concerning these events: One school of thought is that the details have been exaggerated and some claims are outright lies. The official version of the events, which are collectively called “the Holocaust,” is the Jewish version that is required by law, in 19 countries, to be believed under the threat of 5 years in prison.
No other event in the entire history of the world is required by law to be believed. This leads some people to doubt the events that people are required by law to believe in 19 different countries.
As for me, I’m from Missouri, the “Show Me” state. I don’t believe anything until I see the proof. Show me the proof of the gas chambers.