From “The Conversation” newsletter, May 15, 2023:

“The Florida Department of Education announced on April 10, 2023, that it had rejected 35% of the social studies books publishers submitted for approval and use in the state’s public schools. The move was based on a determination the books contain references to social justice issues ‘and other information’ not aligned with Florida Law.’”

“I direct Penn State programs – the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights Education Initiative and the Hammel Family Human Rights Initiative – that give my colleagues and me a real-time glimpse into the vulnerable state of K-12 instruction about difficult topics.”

“As a documentary filmmaker and assistant professor of journalism, I often discuss difficult topics with students. After a rough-cut university screening of my forthcoming documentary “Cojot,” which tells the story of Holocaust survivor Michel Cojot’s 1970s quest to kill his father’s Nazi executioner, two college students approached me apologetically, saying, ‘We’ve never heard of this.’

“To spare them embarrassment, I noted the protagonist’s obscurity. That’s why I’ve made this film, I said.

“Shaking their heads, the students stressed they’d ‘never heard about any of this.’

“They were talking about the Holocaust.”


Thank you, as always, for sharing Otis. He lifts my sad and angry heart.

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Hi Taylor,

Great to hear from you. It's an absolute mess. Part of what I find so disappointing is that we are unable or unwilling to engage in a reasonable conversation about some of these concepts. To be completely honest, I have questions about concepts such as "systemic racism." It recently occurred to me that I have only recently used that term, but what is the difference between that and racism? I guess this is what happens when you do a deep read into Barbara Fields and Toure Reed. If racism and other forms of oppression are inherent in our founding institutions, what does that mean in terms of our ability to overcome it? Shouldn't we also talk about the extent to which the democratic roots of some of our most important accomplishments are also inherent in the same institutions? Just a few questions that I've been struggling with of late. Thanks again for the comment.

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