Trump may not be a fascist, but teachers should have the freedom to ask students the question

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tags: education, fascism, Trump



Jonathan Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author (with Emily Robertson) of "The Case for Contention: Teaching Controversial Issues in American Schools," which will be published in April by University of Chicago Press.

Is President Trump a fascist?

I think that's a bit of a stretch, myself. But I've also heard some compelling arguments linking Trump's attacks on immigrants and judges to the rhetoric used by fascists, including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

I also think that our schoolchildren should hear these arguments, so they can judge the matter for themselves. And that's what makes me different from many people around the country, who simply don't trust our teachers enough to let them debate Donald Trump in their classrooms.

Consider Saratoga Springs, New York, where a teacher recently conducted a lesson in his 10th-grade history class comparing Trump to fascists. The lesson featured a cartoon depicting Trump as "Mussolini with hair" and also a list of the "early warnings signs of fascism," including "obsession with national security" and "rampant sexism."

Significantly, though, none of the critics offered any evidence that the teacher in question had actually done that. Instead, the teacher's own question — is Trump a fascist? — was taken as a sign of indoctrination, in and of itself.

That caught the attention of two mothers in "Conservative Chicks," a local political group, who went on Fox and Friends last month to condemn the lesson. Then the whole episode went crazy viral on right-wing websites, which tagged it as yet another example of liberal teachers pressing their anti-Trump agenda on young minds. ...





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