Neutral on Nazis? Indiana Legislature Walks Back RemarksBreaking News
tags: culture war, teaching history
An Indiana state senator who is facing criticism for saying teachers must be impartial when discussing Nazism is walking back his remarks.
Indiana state Sen. Scott Baldwin said he wasn’t clear when he said a bill he filed at the Indiana Statehouse would require teachers to be impartial in their teaching of all subjects, including during lessons about Nazism, Marxismand fascism.
During a committee hearing Wednesday about Senate Bill 167, a wide-ranging bill inspired by the national discourse over critical race theory, history teacher Matt Bockenfeld raised concerns about what the bill would require of teachers. He gave what he thought was an extreme example.
“For example, it’s the second semester of U.S. history, so we're learning about the rise of fascism and the rise of Nazism right now,” Bockenfeld said. “And I'm just not neutral on the political ideology of fascism. We condemn it, and we condemn it in full, and I tell my students the purpose, in a democracy, of understanding the traits of fascism is so that we can recognize it and we can combat it.”
Bockenfeld said that, even if it wasn’t the intent of the bill, he was afraid it would require teachers to be neutral on all topics.
“Of course, we're neutral on political issues of the day,” he said. “We don't stand up and say who we voted for or anything like that. But we're not neutral on Nazism. We take a stand in the classroom against it, and it matters that we do.”
Baldwin, a Republican from Noblesville, said that may be going too far.
Baldwin said he doesn’t discredit Marxism, Nazism, fascism or “any of those isms out there.”
“I have no problem with the education system providing instruction on the existence of those isms,” he said. “I believe that we've gone too far when we take a position on those isms ... We need to be impartial.”
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