Friday, January 18, 2008

False beliefs are worth upsetting

Goodness. (HT)
Schools are dropping the Holocaust from history lessons to avoid offending Muslim pupils, a Government backed study has revealed. It found some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial.

Less Sensitivity, please.

Correction: apparently 'some teachers' in this context refers to one teacher. [Thanks David.] Still, the broader issue bears highlighting:
The report concluded: "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."

1 comment:

  1. I'm fairly sure this story was shown to be a complete falsehood some time ago. In fact, I think the Holocaust is one of the few areas of history that's taught in pretty much every UK school. It's on the national curriculum meaning that it's actually statutory for it to be covered (unlike most other topics of history) and in addition it's fairly commonly covered in other school subjects (RE, Philosophy, Politics, Citizenship, PSHE etc, or indeed on the national event explicitly devoted to remembering the Holocaust- Holocaust Memorial Day).

    From the Holocaust Education Trust itself.
    http://www.het.org.uk/content.php?page_id=263

    As usual it's a wise to take anything that the notoriously right-wing Daily Mail says with a huge pinch of salt, but I think this oft-repeated lie about Holocaust education is a sign of a deeper phenomenon. Britain, despite the claims of the almost universally right-wing press (look at the leanings of the top 3 selling newspapers), doesn't have a biased liberal media or political correctness lobby. In fact, for the most part even the most baseless of accusations of anti-semitism (a charge regularly raised against any-one critical of Israel's politics) are treated with extreme respect (even when they are shamelessly being used as a political stick to silence one's opponents); by contrast the Muslim community in Britain faces an undeniable amount of Islamaphobia- from planes being grounded because passengers refused to board with islamic passengers, to constant insistence by commentators that the muslim community needs to 'get its house in order,' to government Ministers complaining about islamic women wearing headscarves whiles speaking to them, to it being acceptable to blame Islam per se for terrorism, to Islam being branded both explicitly and non-explicitly as backward, barbaric, intrinsically violent and so on- and that's just from the enlightened 'liberal' media- choose any pub in the country and you can find anti-islamic attitudes substantially worse.
    ---

    Incidentally, though perhaps more on the topic you were originally aiming at with the post, I entirely agree that legitimate cricisms of social groups' practises, or religious irrationalities ought to not to be banned on 'tolerance' grounds. I do however, think that, firstly the vast majority of discourse about Islam in British society is irrational and illegitimate (expressing and generating mere prejudice, rather than reasoned criticisms) and secondly, that there's a legitimate case for not voicing one's disagreements with Islam in situations where it's overwhelmingly probable that doing so will result in more harm by fuelling common and irrational prejudices, than it will by convincing people of whatever reasonable line of argument you're making.

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