Colbert King writes a very good column!


We note an additional point: In this morning's Washington Post, Colbert King writes a column about various forms of bigotry / group hatred.

(King: "Antisemitism is as vile as racism, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia and other forms of oppression.") 

King's column focuses on expressions of hatred or poor judgment directed at mere children. At one point, he recalls a forgotten event:

KING (1/29/22): D.C. residents can hardly tsk-tsk about events beyond our borders.

In December, third-graders working on a project in a D.C. public school library were directed to reenact scenes from the Holocaust, including digging mass graves and simulating shootings. One child, who is Jewish, was cast as Adolf Hitler, told to emulate him and pretend to die by suicide, according to a parent.

In addition to allegedly making other antisemitic comments during the staged reenactment, the school librarian, responding to a child who asked why the Germans did it, reportedly said: “Because the Jews ruined Christmas.”

Following parents’ complaints, the librarian was placed on leave and an investigation promised. The incident, confirmed by the school’s principal, was reported by The Post on Dec. 19.

This week, I called D.C. Public Schools to learn results of the Holocaust reenactment probe. After all, more than 30 days had elapsed. Schools spokesman Enrique Gutierrez told me “the investigation is still ongoing” and there was “nothing to report.”

Apologies all around, but I went off. No results, a month later?

After I demanded that he recheck, Gutierrez emailed several minutes later, “No information was shared with me, and the status of this investigation is still ongoing.” Where’s the outrage?

King complains about a (perceived) lack of outrage within the D.C. Public Schools. We'll also mention this:

This incident has basically been forgotten by King's own newspaper. Beyond that, it seemed to us that the incident was significantly underplayed within the Post at the time it came to light.

Based on what has been reported, a school librarian showed very poor judgment in that particular incident. Beyond that, questions arose about why this particular person had ever been hired by the D.C. Schools in the first place, given her bad record elsewhere.

Might we offer the following thought?

As we can see from this incident, teachers and librarians can sometimes show extremely poor judgment in the way they deal with heavily fraught topics. For the record, they can show extremely poor judgment in ways which may emerge from "the left" as well as from "the right."

Knowing what history to teach, to kids of what age, is not a simple assignment. Teachers should not be given free rein when it comes to such matters. Also, we should not assume that all examples of bad judgment will come from the other tribe.

Also, parents should be respected and listened to when they voice concerns about such matters. Sometimes, such parents may voice complaints which will seem unwise, overwrought, invalid. Sometimes, their complaints will have obvious or partial merit. 

Teachers from our tribe can have poor judgment. So can teachers from theirs.


  1. "Also, we should not assume that all examples of bad judgment will come from the other tribe."

    And yet Somerby has provided no examples of bad judgment from the left.

    It may be that the understandings that make someone right wing also contribute to the bad judgment shown by examples such as this librarian, or the teacher elsewhere who tried to teach about slavery by having the kids simulate picking cotton.

    Somerby seems to suggest that bad judgments comes out of thin air. It comes from the beliefs and attitudes that fuel judgments and those beliefs and attitudes are different among those with different politics.

    Aside from just saying, without any proof, that boths sides do this stuff, Somerby might have mentioned that there are people teaching classes who are not well-trained for that role, due to covid absenteeism. There are also less well-trained teachers in Southern schools with less money. But emphasizing these things ignores the main and most glaring difference between the left and right -- we have an entirely different understanding of slavery and the civil war in the North compared to the South. And, we have an entirely different understanding of Jewish culture and the holocaust in the educated urban population centers (where more Jewish people live) than in Bumfuck, TN.

    Somerby will not grapple with whether bigoted people should be allowed to impose their bigoted beliefs on others, such as schoolchildren, in areas where there is support for bigotry because there are more bigots residing there. And he seems to dislike calling bigotry what it is, an unacceptable set of beliefs used to justify mistreatment of certain people based on their membership in stigmatized groups.

    Forcing children to engage in simulated violence or oppression of their classmates in order to "understand" what happened, cannot be anyone's idea of good teaching methods. The larger question is why didn't this librarian understand that? That has to go back to the beliefs and attitudes of that person, not so-called faulty judgment, as if she had chosen the wrong car on the lot or bet on the wrong horse.

    Bigoted people are still doing things to harm the targets of their bigotry. THAT needs to be addressed, not some vague question of whether teachers should let parents dictate to them, or whether teachers are perfect people, or some such nonsense that Somerby wants to wrap this issue up in.

    And it goes without saying that Somerby has no outrage, but then, he is not Jewish either.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.


    2. “It may be that the understandings that make someone right wing also contribute to the bad judgment shown by examples such as this librarian, or the teacher elsewhere who tried to teach about slavery by having the kids simulate picking cotton.”

      So these particular teachers assigning roles to students such as pretending to clean cotton, or to be Nazis over concentration camps, are conservative teachers?

      In THAT supposed scenario I'm sure you wouldn't support your usual nonsense about making sure that kids in elementary school understand historic oppression.

    3. You can tell they aren't Conservatives, because they have to pretend to be Nazis.

    4. I would say that it is a lack of empathy that would lead a teacher or librarian to think something like this would be a good idea. That lack of empathy is more common on the right than on the left.

      I wouldn't trust someone who comes from a political viewpoint that thinks Hitler is A-OK (as is true among white supremacists and the alt-right) to explain the Holocaust to students of any age.

      Even at the college level, instructors are taught not to engage in activities that would make historically stigmatized groups feel spotlighted because of the embarrassment to a student who has done nothing wrong. And it should be obvious to anyone that you don't teach about historic oppression by teaching certain students how to be oppressors while assigning others to be the targets of oppression.

      I think you shouldn't have to explain this to anyone with common sense (aka good judgment), but apparently that isn't true. And yes, I think Republicans need to be told not to do this stuff more than Democrats, who are more likely to know not to do it.

      Not everyone should be a teacher. If you don't have empathy, you won't be able to teach, not even adults. There are other roles in society for those without empathy. There is no reason to pretend that the right has as much empathy as the left, when studies have shown that this is (1) not true, and (2) one of the reasons why people sort themselves out into the two parties in the first place, a hallmark of what makes someone liberal or conservative.

    5. I know you think that your pronouncement that conservatives lack empathy is representative of logic, good judgment, and common sense.

      That level of reasoning ability is what makes you an anonymouse.

      It’s also illustrative of why it’s very important that kids are taught how to think rather than indoctrinated in what they must think.

    6. I said they "tend to" lack empathy, which is consistent with the studies:

      Denying science and reality is a very conservative trait, by the way.

    7. Here is an example of that fabulous conservative empathy. These miscreants objected to kids receiving vaccine in a school clinic, so they not only didn't get the vaccine themselves but they forced the clinic to shut down, so no other kids could get vaccinated.

      As I said, some people shouldn't be anywhere near a school.

    8. Ah yes, Vox and businessinsider, those famous scientific publication.

      ...but then we're all aware that virtue signaling is, indeed, a hallmark of brain-dead liberalism.

    9. This is what common sense sounds like:

      "See, here's the problem with all of this critical race theory and book banning and anti-LGBTQ bullshit. We rarely hear about the students. How are the kids doing? Not emotionally, although that matters. I mean, we base everything on test scores and shit. How are the schools doing in actually teaching students?

      Because, see, Loudoun Country, Virginia, where some of the most heated, screaming fights about teaching racial history have taken place, is actually a successful school district prior to this whole blow-up. Average SAT scores are higher than the average in Virginia or the United States. On the bullshit tests that we force students to take every year, the kids in Loudoun County are doing quite well, with 85-91% of middle- and high-school students doing their reading and rithmetic at or above grade level. Clearly, like, really, statistically, demonstrably fucking clearly, the teachers are doing something right in Loudoun County. So why the hell would you try to fix something that isn't broken? Whatever is being taught is getting nearly every student to graduate high school. As a parent, you should be supporting an education system that is doing that good of a job and not make the life of teachers even more fucking miserable in the middle of a motherfucking pandemic."

      The Rude Pundit is a teacher. The rest of his columns makes way more sense than anything Cecelia squeaks about:

      "One More Time: Nearly Every Parent Is Too Fucking Dumb to Decide on School Curriculum"

    10. More about schools from Rude Pundit:

      "By the way, in an opposite way from Loudoun County, Virginia, the test scores of McMinn County, which is a mostly rural place dead in the middle between Knoxville and Chattanooga on I-75, are just fucking pathetic. 31-30% read at or above their grade level, meaning that over two-thirds can't read at their grade level. 40% can do math at or above grade level. Maybe the school board needs to spend a little more time worrying about that shit than worrying about mouse tits. Maybe parents need to get their kids those books that Dolly Parton provides.

      I went to public school in south Louisiana in the 1980s. My schools all had a solid mix of races, income levels, and backgrounds (although it was pretty monolithically Catholic because, well, Louisiana in the 1980s). For the most part, my high school teachers were awesome because they were free to teach almost anything that fit into their subject (except sex education because, well, Louisiana in the 1980s). I've mentioned before that my caffeinated, chain-smoking Vietnam vet U.S. history teacher took out a dollar bill on the first day of class and said, "This is what American history is all about," and proceeded to blow our minds by tying everything, the Revolutionary War, slavery, and more, into how the almighty dollar mattered more than human lives. In my English classes, we read Catcher in the Rye and Native Son and other books that were perfect for our age. In my computer science class, I was allowed to create a game where you played as a Native American trying to protect your land from the white people. In the science fair, I had a project on evolution versus creation that had nude dolls in the Garden of Eden display because how the fuck else are you gonna do it.

      Importantly, our parents respected the teachers. Those oil field workers and store clerks and shrimp boat workers didn't try to fuck with the schools just because of their beliefs (and, besides, the Supreme Court had recently slapped down Louisiana on a creationism law). Parents who gave a damn were at-home partners with the schools, helping their kids get their homework done and supporting the efforts of the teachers. And, to be honest, a good many parents just didn't care."

    11. Mao admits that he doesn't know how to chase down a link mentioned in a news story to read the cited study. That explains a lot.

    12. Of course all this makes perfect sense to you just as it was terrible to stop the teaching of CRT concepts in grade school and HS, although graduate level courses was the supposedly the sole venue.

      Just as it makes sense that conservatives are against the sort of curriculum that would broaden student awareness of cultural dynamics, but conservative teachers are doing role playing exercises with their students.

      So it’s certainly going to make perfect sense to you that you’ve labeled generations of people as lacking empathy and particularly and conveniently your current political contrarians based upon the sort of studies that are self-affirming.

      Forget entire demographics of people, let’s teach kids not to be as you.

    13. CRT has never been taught in any grade school or high school. It is an obscure legal theory taught at the graduate level in college. If you start with a lie, you have nothing to reason about.

      You, Cecelia, have shown by your own comments here that you specifically lack empathy. I cited studies and said that conservatives "tend to" lack empathy, which explicitly DOES NOT MEAN that all conservatives lack empathy. But it means that enough of them do lack empathy to explain the atrocities that have been appearing regularly in the press about teachers who lack empathy and who make a mess out of trying to teach about anything important. These holocaust stories make the news, but an unempathetic teacher is going to be cruel to students in hundreds of small ways throughout a career. I think a teacher who lacks empathy should not be in a classroom, whether it is Somerby or you, or some clueless conservative who thinks that making the black kid pick cotton will be a good way to teach about slavery.

      You not only have no shame or embarrassment about the things you say, like many conservatives, but you don't know what you are talking about either. Your time would be better spent reading up on issues instead of trolling, name-calling, posting drive-by hurtful quips and making an ass of yourself in liberal comment sections. Go get a life, Cecelia and try to be a better person.

    14. And you think this screed makes sense too, in which you assume that bad teachers are all conservatives and that Somerby was a bad teacher because he calls out liberal media.

      No one is calling you anything but illogical and your empathetic self is insulting my character, that of the biggest part of your political contrarians, and hauling it over here every day in order to tell a blogger he’s a personal failure in every area.

      I think YOU need to goiogle “empathy”.

    15. I didn't say they were all conservatives. And this is why you cannot have conversations with people.

      I think Somerby was probably a bad teacher because he has so little empathy today, as an older and supposedly wiser person.

      You need to go back to the conservative blogs where you will get lots of reinforcement for your stupid comments.

      Somerby is older than I am. He is a retiree with a vanity blog. His career is over and whatever he has been, he is not in the rat race any more. Whether he is a personal failure or not depends on his own goals, and that is for him to decide.

      You need to fuck off back to wherever you came from and take Mao and the other trolls with you. You have nothing to say to anyone here.

    16. Veronica, that’s a touching story of personal and political affirmation.

      I’m glad the parents of that day respected teachers. Unfortunately, there is obviously not much respect for parents.

    17. Anonymouse 2:41pm, I don’t need reinforcement for my comments and I don’t need to sing my own praises or that of my political fellows in general.

      I think you’d find that liberating if you tried.

    18. @1:55 PM,
      No, alas we don't know about 'chasing down' zombie science, dear dembot.

      But we actually did check your vox link, the one with a comics. Tsk. Yes, it certainly is liberal-zombie science. Perfectly suitable for the adorables.

    19. Let's agree that Conservatives are assholes.

    20. Unfortunately, there is obviously not much respect for parents.

      Let's be honest, Cecelia, you don't really care about ALL parents.

    21. Rude Pundit is absolutely right, speaking as a fucking parent who had three children matriculate K-12 in Loudoun County. The public schools in Loudoun County are one of the reasons it has one of highest cost of housing in Virginia, because the schools are highly desirable and competitive and successful.

      as it was terrible to stop the teaching of CRT concepts in grade school and HS

      Cecelia is cute, isn't she? She carefully doesn't say teaching CRT. No, now it is "CRT concepts" which can mean any fucking thing Gov. Youngkin, and some pissed off racist wants it to mean.

    22. I care about parents enough to know that no one should be as high-handed and dismissive toward any of them as some commenters here on this board.

    23. Anonymouse 9:05am, what is CRT if not concepts?

      No, CRT can’t be anything anyone says.

      You give it less credit than I do.

    24. I love it. I recall some high school kid knocking on my door a few months ago campaigning for Youngkin. Telling me I should support Youngkin because he cares about parents. Here I am, a man in his 60's and parent of three who all went thru public school K-12 in Loudoun County, having gone to more parent teacher meetings than I care to remember, with a daughter who is now teaching HS in Fairfax County, getting lectured by some kid about how some demagogue pol cares about "parents" more. I am a fucking parent, Cecelia.

      Of course, none of this is new.

      Check out "The Great Kanawha County Textbook War" discussed by Rick Perstein in "The Invisible Bridge", volume 3 in his 4-volume history tracing how the fuck this country ended up with Ronald Reagan, the man who gave missiles to the Mullahs.

    25. Cut the double talk, Cecelia, Youngkin already admitted CRT is not being taught in VA public schools, but he also gave out a tip line for any disgruntled parent to drop a dime on some teacher who offended them in some way.

      Let's be honest, republicans have a hard on for school teachers and the public school system in general. Have had for as long as I can remember, this is just another way to undermine the public school system.

      Of course CRT "concepts" can be anything that offends the fucking racists like yourself.

    26. Anonymouse 10:54am, then the last line by Anonymouse 8:30am, certainly applies to both of you, rather than to me.

    27. A GOP bill in New Hampshire targets "negative" depictions of US history. Its explicit goal: To ensure teachers retain "loyalty" and don't push "subversive doctrines."

    28. No, it doesn’t mean that concrete Anonymouse 12:22pm.

      Do anonymices ever bother to read the freaking blog?

    29. Anonymouse 11:03am, you’re worried about a governor of a state having a tip line, but it was okay for the NSBA to involve the U.S. Attorney General and the FBI in handling raucous school board meetings?

      No, I’m afraid that a tip line still doesn’t make it possible for a governor to designate “anything” as being CRT.

      Most ideas fall on their own lack of coherence. They don’t need the CRT label for that.

      A governor still has to face a media. He still has to answer to voters. Speaking of which, they were the people who put Youngkin into office.

      You’ll give a spiel on the historic success of Ava schools and then infer that parents’ reluctance to take up a new curriculum is the “change” that will undo that history.

      Look to your own ability to reason yourself out of a paper-bag before you start paint-balling every critic.

    30. You're so full of shit, Cecelia.

      While local and state law enforcement agencies are working with public school officials in several communities to prevent further disruptions to educational services and school district operations, law enforcement officials in some jurisdictions need assistance – including help with monitoring the threat levels. As these threats and acts of violence have become more prevalent – during public school board meetings, via documented threats transmitted through the U.S. Postal Service, through social media and other online platforms, and around personal properties – NSBA respectfully asks that a joint collaboration among federal law enforcement agencies, state and local law enforcement, and with public school officials be undertaken to focus on these threats.2 NSBA specifically solicits the expertise and resources of the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center3 regarding the level of risk to public schoolchildren, educators, board members, and facilities/campuses. We also request the assistance of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks that have been transmitted to students, school board members, district administrators, and other educators.

      The NSBA was highlighting actual violence and threats of violence. Nobody was asking the DOJ to get involved in school board meetings.

      The guy you voted for was trying to get the DOJ to seize voting machines from various states in order to steal the election. You ok with that?

  2. Somerby says that parent complaints should be "respected" (whatever that means), but how do you unring the bell of what those kids were made to do by that librarian?

    Did anyone perhaps point out that the kids were "just following orders" or did they examine why children might follow such instructions and simulate the mistreatment of their classmates, simply because a librarian said to do it? Where was their outrage? Is there no respect for student voices (even youngish ones)? And if no student objected to this exercise, why not? What does that say about their prior teaching (indoctrination) about the ways of the South?

  3. "King: "Antisemitism is as vile as racism, homophobia, sexism, Islamophobia and other forms of oppression.""

    Of oppression, dear Bob, really? Oh dear.

    This isn't the first time we see liberals re-defining "oppression". Liberal-Zombie language is moving further and further from English.

    So, in your, dear Bob, liberal opinion, if we were to dislike the followers of Judaism or Islam, that would've meant that we're oppressing them?

    Ha-ha. Who woulda thunk that oppressing a couple of billion people all over the world is such an easy endeavor...

    1. The acts arising from bigtroy are clearly what King means by oppression.

      It would be very hard for someone who held a form of bigotry to avoid revealing it in his or her various words and deeds. Bigtroy colors one's world view and influences everything they do. And yes, acting upon bigotry in dealings with others is certainly oppressive.

      You are chiding Somerby but it was King who said the quoted sentence.

      You don't have to oppress all of the Jews in the world to be anti-semitic. One is enough, if they were mistreated because of their Jewishness.

      You need to look up the word bigotry -- it doesn't mean disliking. It means:

      "obstinate or unreasonable attachment to a belief, opinion, or faction; in particular, prejudice against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular group."

    2. Why doncha you go and oppress some of 'em Southern Evangelicals, dear dembot.

    3. Somerby fanboy at 12:27 describes and offers his support for critical race theory!

  4. Did any of the kids object to reading Maus?

    My 10 year old grandson was given the book by one of the my daughter's friends.

    The reality of everyday life among middle schoolers makes this seem like a manufactured issue arising from the politics of the parents, not any damage done to any child.

  5. “Sometimes, such parents may voice complaints which will seem unwise, overwrought, invalid. Sometimes, their complaints will have obvious or partial merit.”

    This seems an obvious point, until you consider that no liberal is saying “conservative parents are always wrong”, and it is precisely the argument over who is right in specific instances and how that debate gets weaponized and legislated that is the crux of the matter.

    1. "Weaponized", indeed.

      The NSBA wanted upset parents to be scrutinized under the Patriot Act.

    2. "upset parents"

      Bwahahaha!! You lie with a straight face, Cecelia.

    3. Why don't you try the truth. I really hate what the crazy right wing is doing public school teachers. Why don't you lay off, they're underpaid and overworked.

    4. I never said anything about teachers in the trenches. I criticized the NSBA.

      I have been amazed in the last several years at how thoroughly do many teachers seem to hate their profession.

    5. Yeah, you're full of shit.
      You really believe that shit you're peddling? Your whole fucking party is comprised of "upset" parents apparently. Violent threats against teachers and school board members deserve scrutiny, you idiot.

    6. Who said otherwise, Einstein?

    7. Einstein, unlike you, had empathy. He contributed something to this world. You take up space and are generally useless. Go away.

    8. You engaged me.

      Unlike you, Einstein would have reckoned that.

    9. Ho-him.
      Conservative parents are concerned their bigotry and white grievance isn’t being catered to.
      In other news, a week is now made up of seven days.

  6. “Knowing what history to teach, to kids of what age, is not a simple assignment. “

    No one is saying that it is.

    What’s easy is saying that it isn’t easy and then walking away from the debate.

  7. Bob's position illustrates Robert Conquest's 1st Law of Politics:

    "Everyone is conservative about what he knows best."

  8. Evidently, a news organization has hired the TDH drive-by anonymouse.

  9. Replies
    1. That’s because MSNBC deleted their tweet.

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