Wednesday, November 25, 2020
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Echoes of the Nazis in school race report

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IN June, the Runnymede Trust released a report entitled Race and Racism in English Secondary Schools. The trust, which describes itself as the ‘UK’s leading independent race equality think tank’, had much wisdom to impart about how to insert the issue of race into every nook and cranny of the curriculum.

With students across the country having missed out on months of education this year, further racialising what children are taught in school is undoubtedly among the most pressing issues at hand. Moreover, as events in 2020 have shown us, it is also something which will undoubtedly be of great societal benefit for years to come.

The report reads: 

‘Experience shows […] that many teachers are not able to present and explain their knowledge of racial awareness and White Supremacy in a way that profits our youth for their whole lives. He who devotes an hour a week in his school to racial awareness and White Supremacy, making it into something of an independent subject, approaches it in an unnatural way. The knowledge of racial awareness and White Supremacy must grow organically from the whole curriculum of our schools. Racial awareness and knowledge of White Supremacy must run like a red thread through education at every level. There is no subject in our schools from which valuable knowledge of White Supremacy cannot be drawn in unexpected fullness.’

Okay, I lied. The report doesn’t say that exactly. This paragraph is taken from the introduction of the 1937 German educational manual Die Judenfrage im Unterricht (The Jewish Question in Education). I have merely changed a pronoun, suffixed ‘racial’ with ‘awareness’ (to bring the phrase up to modern-day standards) and replaced ‘the Jewish Question’ with ‘White Supremacy’. With these minor alterations it would probably pass muster with most modern-day radical pedagogues.

The actual report, while maintaining a different societal group in its crosshairs, is equally concerned that students must solely concentrate on the issue of race:

‘The production of a racially literate society should be considered a fundamentally important aspect of schooling . . . Assemblies should be used as key spaces for engaging students with anti-racist pedagogy in order to increase racial literacy levels within schools. However, this should supplement, rather than replace, efforts to embed anti-racism in the curriculum . . . Race-conscious curricula should include scope for white students and teachers to reflect upon racist social structures as well as their own white privilege, while also enabling BME students to understand their position in contemporary society.’

Our 1937 handbook – edited by none other than Julius Streicher of Der Stürmer fame – and Runnymede’s modern equivalent are similarly obsessed with all things racial. In one, die Juden are the cause of all problems. In the other, the lazy, ill-defined and all-compassing idea of white supremacy is the catch-all.

Both abandon the concept of the individual and replace it with a racial monolith to which they ascribe all evils. No doubt the 2020 report would describe itself as ‘progressive’. Yet ideologies which reduce everything to the dehumanising dichotomy of Marxist power struggles have been tried many times before, with death tolls in the millions. It’s a very peculiar kind of ‘progress’. 

Perhaps our schools should better teach history instead of indulging in more racial quackery. That way, people might actually understand what follows when a society adopts divisive policies based on people’s immutable characteristics. It’s a lesson that should have been learnt long ago. 

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Frederick Edward
Frederick Edward currently lives in St Petersburg. He infrequently uses Twitter.

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