[Marxism] Bush bashing by teacher spurs threats

Charles Brown cbrown at michiganlegal.org
Wed Mar 8 13:00:55 MST 2006


 

Bush bashing by teacher spurs threats

Colorado man compares president to Hitler; angry callers target Mich.
family, student who taped lesson.

Joe Menard / The Detroit News

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"My job as a social studies teacher is to argue alternative perspectives and
viewpoints so that students are aware of those points of views," says
teacher Jay Bennish. go See full image
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3&Date=20060308&Category=SCHOOLS&ArtNo=603080395&Ref=H3');> 


Colorado geography teacher Jay Bennish remains on administrative leave while
his school district investigates remarks he made about President Bush during
class, including comparing Bush's world view to Adolf Hitler's. Do you think
he should be fired? 
Click here to vote
<http://info.detnews.com/feedback/lettersindex.cfm?topic=A_teachable_moment&
forum=dnletters> 

  

BEVERLY HILLS -- The publication of a teacher's comments comparing President
George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler during a Colorado classroom discussion has
resulted in threats to the teacher, his family in Michigan and the student
who reported him.

John Bennish of Beverly Hills said at least 12 people have called his home
and threatened his life and the lives of his family since comments made by
his son, Jay, exploded onto the Internet and network television.

Jay Bennish, 28, a teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo.,
defended his position on NBC's "Today" show Tuesday, telling host Matt
Lauer:

"My job as a social studies teacher is to argue alternative perspectives and
viewpoints so that students are aware of those points of views. They do not
necessarily reflect my own views. They are simply thrown out there to
encourage critical thought."

The comments -- made to his class Feb. 1 in response to Bush's State of the
Union address -- have thrust Bennish, a 1996 Seaholm High School graduate,
into the national spotlight in the debate over the war in Iraq and war on
terrorism. It also stoked the debate on how much liberty teachers should
have in expressing views on current events.

The comments were made public Feb. 22 by conservative syndicated columnist
Walter E. Williams. Since then, the comments have been repeated on the
Internet and on television shows, including Fox News Channel's "Hannity &
Colmes," on the "Today" show and on Rush Limbaugh's syndicated radio show.

"This has been totally lopsided and one-sided," Bennish's father said of the
coverage his son's comments have received. He said the Fox News Channel's
coverage "reminds me of McCarthyism. And they're supposed to be fair and
balanced?"

Sean Allen, a 10th-grade student in Bennish's world geography class,
recorded the comments on his MP3 player. They included Jay Bennish saying
some of Bush's speech "sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used
to say. We're the only ones who are right, everyone else is backwards and
our job is to conquer the world and make sure that they all live just like
we want them to."

Later in the recording, Bennish said he was not claiming Bush and Hitler
were the same, "but there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they
use."

Some students said that Allen, too, has become a target, even though the
teen has not returned to school since the recording was made public.

"Everybody's mad" at Allen, Phil Tekle, 17, told the Denver Post. "People
are saying that if they see him, they want to beat him up. I think that's
just talk, though."

Allen, who has said he records all the lectures in his classes instead of
taking notes, handed it over to his father, who passed it on to Williams and
a conservative Denver talk radio station. From there, it hit Internet blogs
and eventually mainstream media such as Fox.

"Regardless of whether you're pro-Bush or anti-Bush, pro-American or
anti-American, I'd like to know whether there's anyone who believes that the
teacher's remarks were appropriate for any classroom setting, much less a
high school geography class," Williams wrote in a Feb. 22 column posted on
the Web site townhall.com. "It's clear the students aren't being taught
geography. They're getting socialist lies and propaganda."

Jay Bennish, whose mother is a teacher in Birmingham, was placed on
administrative leave from his job in the Cherry Creek Schools District while
it investigates whether his Feb. 1 lecture violated a policy requiring that
balancing viewpoints be presented in classes.

"The main reason I say those racy or thought-provoking perspectives (is) I'm
trying to provoke my students to go out there and decide for themselves,"
Jay Bennish told the Post. "I try to throw alternative perspectives out to
students so they can (think) critically. I think the whole thing is
reflective of a trend, an intolerance for anyone who would dare to speak
with an opposing view ... This is not a good sign for a healthy democracy."

Bennish said he invites opposing views, as long as students can back up
their arguments.

He said no parents -- including the family of the student who recorded the
lecture -- have complained to him, and all the students' parents had seen
his syllabus and that school officials had approved it.

"I think what I've learned is the level of polarization that America is
facing right now," he said. "There seems to be a growing intolerance for
anybody that would dare to articulate (contrary) ideas to what is ...
mainstream. It's very discouraging and as a society and as a country, we
need to grapple with these issues.

"I certainly think this is a very scary precedent and this is something that
could inhibit teachers from actively discussing these types of issues for
fear they will be the next person to be broadcast" in the media.

Bennish has weathered the criticism well for a teacher in the profession for
just six years, said his mother, Jan, who teaches at Harlan Elementary.

"I'm absolutely amazed at how well he's able to handle this," she said. "I
think Jay's always been very mature."

Jay Bennish's lawyer, David Lane, said he expects the school district to
make a decision on his client's future on Thursday.

"Aside from right-wing talk radio, he's got a lot of support," Lane said.
"He's got some of the highest student evaluations of any teacher."

The comments came as a surprise to Bennish's former lacrosse coach at
Seaholm, Aaron Frank.

"He was fairly quiet," he said, adding that Bennish was a good player.

Despite his quiet demeanor, Bennish was an independent young man and an
"individual," said Frank, now the school's athletic director.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. You can reach Joe Menard at
(248) 647-7429 or jmenard at detnews.com.

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*	Muslims, Jews pick private education 
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*	Tougher classes pass hurdle 

C Copyright 2006 The Detroit News. All rights reserved.

 <http://gpaper123.112.2O7.net/b/ss/gpaper123/1/G.4--NS/0> 
Related links

Denver Post: Teacher caught in Bush 'rant'
<http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3560566>  
Denver Post: Students support teacher suspended for Bush remarks
<http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3562969>  
AudioDenver talk radio KHOW interview with teacher Jay Bennish: Part 1
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Interview
%20Pt%201.mp3>  | Part 2
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%202.mp
3>  | Part 3
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%203.mp
3>  
| Part 2
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%202.mp
3>  | Part 3
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%203.mp
3>  
| Part 2
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%202.mp
3>  | Part 3
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%203.mp
3>  
| Part 2
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%202.mp
3>  | Part 3
<http://a23.v18227d.c18227.g.vm.akamaistream.net/7/23/18227/v0001/cchannel.d
ownload.akamai.com/18227/podcast/DENVER-CO/KHOW-AM/Jay%20Bennish%20Pt%203.mp
3>  
Cherry Creek Schools' official statement
<http://search.denverpost.com/sp?sId=11496713&cId=1425752&wId=13624495&rNum=
2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdenver.yourhub.com%2FStory.aspx%3Fcontentid%3D58296&aff=3
>  
Denver Post: Student says he fears for safety
<http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3575830>  
FOXNews.com: Hannity & Colmes transcript
<http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,186744,00.html>  
VideoFOXNews.com video: Student Sean Allen's recording, interview
<http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,186708,00.html;>  
Teach vs. speech: How should public schools handle hot controversy in class?
<http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_3564246>  
 





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