San Diego teacher tells Jewish student Adolf Hitler had 'strong leadership qualities', sparks outrage
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: A San Diego middle school teacher is facing harsh criticism after displaying a picture of Adolf Hitler next to other world leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr and John F Kennedy. When a 7th-grader, who is Jewish, asked Carmel Valley Middle School teacher Tabitha Barry about Hitler being on the board, his response was, "Hitler may have done some bad things, but he also had strong leadership qualities."
The student told his father Dr Roy David about the board. David said, "We're sitting at the dinner table and he says to me, 'Hey dad, my teacher has a picture of Hitler on the wall.'" The appaled father couldn't believe his son and asked him to show a picture. "And there's Adolf Hitler, a big, portrait-size picture of Hitler. And right next to Hitler is Gandhi and Martin Luther King and JFK and each one of these people has some kind of inspirational quote written underneath them." David told CBS8.
David then emailed the teacher asking for an explanation with a request that the photo be taken down. However, there was no response, he said. The photo of Hitler had been on the classroom wall since the start of the school year, as per the student. According to David it was not part of a history syllabus on World War II. David said his son allegedly went back the next day and asked why she had a picture of Hitler on the wall and the teacher actually told her, "You know, you're trivializing the Holocaust. Hitler may have done some bad things but he had leadership qualities."
"My grandparents' entire families were murdered in the Holocaust," David said, adding "They were from Poland, originally, and my grandmother was the sole survivor from our town. Every other man, woman, and child was rounded up and executed." Around six million Jewish people were murdered by Hitler 's Nazi collaborators during the Holocaust, with over 11 million people fearing being slaughtered by the evil regime. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading global Jewish human rights organization, spoke of the incident and said, "There was a failure in the classroom."
Rabbi Cooper told KGTV, "In this case, taking all those important positive figures of history and then putting Hitler right in that mix is wrong The real goal here is not to punish anyone, let's say educate our educators, and do a better job for our kids here in California." The local Jewish human rights organization stated in a public statement that they were not interested in anyone being punished but urged proactive steps being taken to ensure it doesn't happen again. After the incident caused public outrage on social media, the school principal apologized and pledged to organize anti-bias training for faculty and staff.
Principal Vicki Kim conveyed his message through an email to parents and said the teachers never intend to hurt or offend anybody. "We have recently experienced one of those times that had a hurtful impact, particularly to our Jewish community, and to others, and for this we are sorry," the email stated.
Nevertheless, this was not the first string of controversial remarks made by people linked to the San Dieguito Union High School District. A superintendent was reportedly fired earlier this year for comments she made about Asian students, reported KGTV. A school board member was even accused of making transphobic comments.