involved in education are not too interested in hearing about school
during the summer vacation. Education is an intense field and the summer
break gives those involved in education a chance to disengage themselves a
little thereby fortifying and rejuvenating. Nonetheless, I think now is
the time to analyze an end-of-the-year incident from this past school year
and see how we can improve our educational system.
Many schools have their graduating
students choose a quotation that they like to appear under their
graduation picture. Two high school seniors from Northport, NY, a city 47
miles east of New York City chose to place quotations from Adolf Hitler's
book "Mein Kampf" under their picture.
The quotes were picked by Christopher
Koulermos and Philip Compton, both 18. Koulermos' read "Strength lies
not in defense, but in attack." Compton chose "The great masses
of people . . . will more easily fall victims to a big lie
than to a small one."
The comments caused quite a stir
because of their author, but I would venture to say that they are
inappropriate for a graduating student regardless of their source. Because
of the great big ruckus made about this choice, school officials were
prompted to apologize."It's our responsibility and we failed
miserably," said Northport High School principal Irene McLaughlin.
"The fact that the book went out in the form it did was a grave
mistake on our part."
Compton's father, Steven, said that
his son meant no harm in picking the quote. "I guess he didn't
seriously consider the source; he was more interested in the quote,"
he said. "He's a child."
Compton’s father is correct. His son
is just a child, but a child on the brink of adulthood, who should have
been taught better than that. The school is correct too. They should
apologize, but they are apologizing to the wrong people. The ones who
deserve the apology are the two graduating students, Christopher Koulermos
and Philip Compton, and their classmates. Where the education system has
failed miserably is by not providing a proper education.
How is it that they went through all
of their schooling and were never once taught about the evil of Hitler? I
am not referring to Hitler’s Final Solution to the Jewish “problem.”
That retains great proportions in my mind because of how it affected my
brethren - the Jewish people. But the Jewish “problem” was not
considered the main “problem” the Germans had during WWII and the
Final Solution is generally thought to have been a “side job.”
I’m wondering how these two young
men went through school without learning about Hitler’s greater war aim:
To take over all of Europe and then the whole world and use the world’s
population as slaves.
History tells us that by the time the
Americans joined WWII the Germans had taken over a major part of Europe.
Jews and non-Jews lived in Europe at this time. True the Jews were
exterminated, but the rest of the residents were persecuted as inferior
too. The citizens of the unoccupied European lands were weakened by four
years of war and unable to fight Hitler for much longer. It’s
theoretically possible that if the USA had not joined the war when it did
Christopher Koulermos and Philip Compton and all their relatives would be
slaves to Hitler’s rule until today. And therein lies the fault.
Had Christopher Koulermos and Philip
Compton known this they undoubtedly would have understood by themselves
that there was something inherently wrong in permanently printing the
quote of an evil man, who in his warped fantasy viewed all of humankind as
his slaves, under their graduation picture. This is aside from the fact
that Hitler’s actions against Jews and other minorities were most
wicked. The fact is that these boys were uneducated in the inherent
depravity of Hitler and his schemes.
Though it’s the summer and school's out of session perhaps
now is the time for those who educate our children to revamp the education
system. Hitler and his cohorts should not be relegated to the unimportant
because “it’s only History.” A gap in education of something so
important leaves our unsuspecting and unknowledgeable young children
thinking Hitler is someone worthy of quoting. The solution to the
discovery of such a serious gap in education is not to punish the students
or the school; it’s the same solution to all ignorance: educate.