Time Union- Students in some Albany High School English classes were asked this week as part of a persuasive writing assignment to make an abhorrent argument: “You must argue that Jews are evil, and use solid rationale from government propaganda to convince me of your loyalty to the Third Reich!” Students were asked to watch and read Nazi propaganda, then pretend their teacher was a Nazi government official who needed to be convinced of their loyalty. In five paragraphs, they were required to prove that Jews were the source of Germany’s problems. The exercise was intended to challenge students to formulate a persuasive argument and was given to three classes, Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard said. She said the assignment should have been worded differently. “I would apologize to our families,” she said. “I don’t believe there was malice or intent to cause any insensitivities to our families of Jewish faith.” One-third of the students refused to complete the assignment, she said.
Kind of split on this one. Obviously it’s probably not a good idea to ask high schoolers (in Albany of all places) to consider where the Nazi’s were coming from, but on the other hand this is the easiest assignment ever. To be honest if I was assigned a paper to explain why the Jews are (hypothetically) evil I’d probably have trouble keeping it under five paragraphs. I don’t think the Nazis were right, but if I had to take their point of view it’d be pretty simple to pound out a few pages talking about how all Israelites are sneaky Jesus killers who want to take all of the world’s money, air and foreskin for their own benefit and who wear that thing on top of their head to hide the pentagram they’re branded with the minute they’re born. Not that I actually believe that or anything. That’s just what I would write. But the best part of this story has to be that the fact that 1/3 of students refusing to do the assignment glosses over the fact that the other 2/3 happily wrote essays about why the Jews are evil. That’s not awkward at all. Should make for a fun few couple months of school.