Dear So and So:
I am personally concerned about what I perceive as a constantly intensifying anti-Muslimism in the West, so I have given the email you forwarded some thought and have written this; hope you don't mind me sending a somewhat lengthy response! (But you did send the email!)
First of all, I discovered that this email has been making the rounds on the internet, and someone has published a rebuttal of it here: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/holocaust.asp
Second, I found this article: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=445979&in_page_id=1770 .
Third, I think at the chore of the circulating email is a virulent anti-Mulimism, and I think that the writer of the email is blind to his/her own prejudice.
It is not government policy in to stop teaching about the , nor is there a widespread refusal on the behalf of schools to stop teaching about the , or the Crusades, or any other matter that upsets SOME, not ALL, Muslim students (or their parents). What there is is a British government study that shows that a tiny minority of teachers and ONLY ONE UNIVERSITY have stopped the teaching of these things. So what there is is a trend--a very minor trend on behalf of SOME teachers in to drop the teaching of these things. There are SOME teachers who are afraid. And it is a MINOR trend, and definitely not a government policy.
I would agree that teachers and institutions that do drop teaching the Holocaust--where the teaching of the Holocaust is a mandatory part of the school curriculum, WHICH IT IS NOT throughout the whole of the UK (see above links)--should be reprimanded/penalized. However, I believe that whoever originally wrote that email flew off into hysterics and is reproducing the very kind of prejudicial thinking that was at the root of the , for the following reasons:
Not ALL Muslims are against this kind of teaching, and by far not ALL teachers in are refusing to teach the Holocaust--but the email suggests such is the case in he UK. Such uncareful suggestion/careless thinking betrays, to my mind, a fear of a Muslim menace on behalf of the writer, much like fear of a Jewish menace once influenced people's thinking about society and politics. Black and White, simplistic and essentializing, and hysterical thinking is the very root of the fundamentalist kind of thinking that is always the cause of social entropy, of the problem of social harmony in society breaking down: It takes much more careful thinking/feelings for there to be peace, and such thinking takes EFFORT. Common sense--effortless, lazy thinking--usually is the enemy.
The myth of a Muslim scourge menacing is increasingly influencing how many in the West think of the problems of their world, and this myth echoes the racist mythology of a Jewish Scourge.
Also, the same study found the following to be the case:
A third school found itself 'strongly challenged by some Christian parents for their treatment of the Arab-Israeli conflict-and the history of the state of Israel that did not accord with the teachings of their denomination'.So why didn't the writer of the email also pick up on this? Certainly this issue--what I think of as the public bullying of education by religious fanatics--has been a very significant issue in the US--for example, the Kansas legislature mandating the teaching of Creationism in its state public schools! So why don't we need to guard ourselves against all Christians, and be weary of the (Christian and/or free-market) fundamentalism that drives the administration of GW Bush, just as much as we need to be weary of all Muslims and the fundamentalist-driven government of ?
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."
The scourge that is menacing "us" today is that of unleashed fundamentalisms. Fundamentalists--Christian fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalists, and also free-market fundamentalists--as always are the ones driving this world into social entropy and ongoing, constant warfare. Fundamentalists are too angry and too lazy to think in anything other than black and white. And the writer of the email is thinking in Black and White.
Again, it is neither a Muslim nor a Christian scourge in general, but a growing Scourge of Fundamentalisms--of Muslim, Christian, Western and free-market fundamentalisms--that is troubling the world today. It is not a Clash of Civilizations, but a Clash of Fundamentalisms (if you'd like, have a read of this book with this latter title: http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-9781859846797-0).
Though I do not care much in general for the author http://www.powells.com/biblio/18-9780446579803-0). And I agree with him that we need to get back on track and rigorously defend a secular public culture and the seperation of religion--ALL religion--from public (especially educational) policy. One can teach about religion in an objective manner, but you don't need to be a Christian or Muslim, or to teach Christian or Muslim or any other religious value systems, to teach children to be good and respectful. Not a single religion has, in practice, a monopoly on or can claim singular goodness!, I could say along with him that "God is Not Great," when it is the God of a Muslim or Christian Fundamentalist (see his bestselling book here:
Feel free to forward this to your list, if you'd like!
ORIGINAL EMAIL message:
IN MEMORIALReading it over again, I see a few other problems in this email:
This week, the removed the from it's school curriculum because it 'offended' the Muslim population because they say it never occurred.
This is a frightening portent of the fear that is gripping the world and how easy each country is giving into it.
It is now more than 60 years since the 2nd. World War in Europe ended. This e-mail is being sent as a memorial chain, in memory of the 6 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and 1,900 Catholic priests who were murdered, massacred, raped, starved, burned and humiliated while German and Russian people looked the other way!
Now more than ever, with among others, claiming the to be a myth, it is imperative to make sure the world never forgets.
This e-mail is intended to reach 40 million people worldwide! Be a link in the memorial chain and help distribute this around the world.
It is prejudiced in a further way: "While German and Russian people looked the other way. . ."
It wasn't only Germans and Russians who looked the other way as the Holocaust and other acts of extreme violence and Genocide took place in the course of the war. Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Belgians, Italians, Hungarians, Romanians, etc.--EVERYONE ON THE CONTINENT, pretty much--also looked the other way. Some even argue that the Americans and British "looked the other way" as the Holocaust took place. Thus, the writer betrays a prejudice against Germans and Russians by mentioning only them in particular. There were people "looking the other way"--i.e., trying to survive and avoid conflict--wherever Nazi, Fascist, and Soviet regimes existed. Also, there is much-too-much one sided blame here, too much posturing in a holier-than-thou manner; that is, I wonder if the writer of this email would have behaved any differently in the same context. So, then, is the writer meaning to suggest that there is something in the nature of Germans and Russians that made them look the other way, something that the writer might not be susceptible to, had s/he had to survive under the extreme conditions as either a citizen of Nazi Germany or the USSR, or as the citizen of a country under Nazi, Fascist or Soviet occupaiton?
Another issue: It wasn't 20 million Russians who died, but 20 million SOVIET CITIZENS who died, of whom 10-11 million alone where citizens of Ukraine (and it is impossible to know how many among them were ethnic Ukrainians or Russians). That figure of 20 million dead includes Slavs, Balts, and Central Asians, as well as Siberians, Germans, Jews and others, all of whom lived in the USSR at the time. It is just more lazy thinking to use the labels "Soviet" and "Russian" interchangeably, even if it is customary and "common sense," and how everyone talked about the USSR during the Cold War. Many, if not most, members of non-Russian diasporas whose homelands were part of the USSR never spoke in such manner, and frequently protested such usage in the press and academia.