The Holocaust in Genocide Studies

tags: Holocaust, genocide

David Moshman writes about intellectual freedom, human rights, human development, and education. A professor emeritus of educational psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, he is book review editor of the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology and has served as president of ACLU Nebraska and of the Academic Freedom Coalition of Nebraska. 

California State University at Sacramento has announced that it will begin offering a minor in Genocide and Holocaust Studies. In the interest of conceptual coherence, I urge that it shorten the title to Genocide Studies. 

The announcement follows a September complaint from sophomore Chiitaanibah Johnson that her history professor denied there was genocide against the indigenous peoples of the United States and stifled her effort to challenge his view. He accused her in turn of disrupting the class.

In early October, Sacramento State determined that neither teacher nor student should be punished. I agree. Each could have been more respectful of the other but neither did anything terrible. To punish the teacher would have a chilling effect on teachers who raise controversial issues or present controversial views; to punish the student would have a chilling effect on students who dissent.

Sac State President Robert Nelsen initially referred to the case as "an alleged incident of intolerance" and subsequent discussion has framed the issue largely as one of cultural sensitivity, compassion, inclusion, civility, respect, decorum, diversity, and multiculturalism. Such matters are to be addressed in part through orientation sessions for faculty and students.

But this largely misses the point. The problem is not that someone may be offended. The question is not who feels good or who feels bad or how bad some students feel. The core issue, as Ms. Johnson herself has consistently maintained, is the obligation of academia to historical truth. In this regard, what is most important is the new minor for students who wish to focus on genocide. ...

Read entire article at Huffington Post

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