Sunday, 14 April 2013

IN DEFENSE OF A TEACHER

Ken Berwitz

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I am both Jewish and a strong defender of the state of Israel.

So why am I defending a high school English teacher in Albany, New York, who asked her students to write a letter supporting Naziism and arguing that Jews are evil?

Because, although the assignment was in extremely poor taste - something I am reasonably certain the teacher in question realized after the fact - I do not believe that its intention was either to promote naziism nor demean Jews.

According to the Albany Times-Union article:

The writing assignment was done before a planned class reading of the memoir "Night," by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

For the assignment, the teacher asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then write a letter trying to convince an official of the Third Reich "that Jews are evil and the source of our problems."

"Review in your notebooks the definitions for logos, ethos, and pathos," the teacher's assignment said. "Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point. Please remember, your life (here in Nazi Germany in the 30's) may depend on it!"

Was the specific assignment in extremely bad taste?  Absolutely.

But was it intended to actually promote the nazi philosophy?  Or was it intended as a way of getting students to utilize logos (a rhetorical argument), ethos (the culture of a specific group) and pathos (an emotional appeal) to make about as difficult an argument as there could be?

Based on the school Principal's assurance that the teacher, until this time, had an unblemished record, I would think it fair to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume this was nothing more than a very poorly conceived way of getting students to think and write effectively.  And, if so, it seems to me that a public reprimand and an apology should end the issue. 

Placing the teacher on indefinite leave, by contrast, not only is excessively punitive, but creates an impression that school authorities believe her intentions were, in fact, pro-nazi. 

If they feel that way, they should say so, say why, and dismiss the teacher immediately.  But if they don't - and is appears pretty clear this is the case - then maybe a little judicious backtracking is in order.


WEEKEND BABYSITTING DUTIES

Ken Berwitz

We just spent the weekend babysitting our 6 year old and 3 year old grandchildren.  The fact that they were so unhappy to see us leave makes the other fact that we are both now exhausted from their impossibly high energy levels more than worth it.

Regretfully (because doing just about anything but being with them is a source of regret), I will now go back to politics. 


BABY, IS THIS CUTE

Ken Berwitz

My facebook pal, ESPN writer Jerry Crasnick, just put this up today.

One little Pennsylvania baby, three little French bulldogs, and as sweet a picture as you will ever see.

Ok, warm fuzzies are over.  Back to politics.


IN DEFENSE OF A TEACHER

Ken Berwitz

Any regular reader of this blog knows that I am both Jewish and a strong defender of the state of Israel.

So why am I defending a high school English teacher in Albany, New York, who asked her students to write a letter supporting Naziism and arguing that Jews are evil?

Because, although the assignment was in extremely poor taste - something I am reasonably certain the teacher in question realized after the fact - I do not believe that its intention was either to promote naziism nor demean Jews.

According to the Albany Times-Union article:

The writing assignment was done before a planned class reading of the memoir "Night," by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

For the assignment, the teacher asked students to research Nazi propaganda, then write a letter trying to convince an official of the Third Reich "that Jews are evil and the source of our problems."

"Review in your notebooks the definitions for logos, ethos, and pathos," the teacher's assignment said. "Choose which argument style will be most effective in making your point. Please remember, your life (here in Nazi Germany in the 30's) may depend on it!"

Was the specific assignment in extremely bad taste?  Absolutely.

But was it intended to actually promote the nazi philosophy?  Or was it intended as a way of getting students to utilize logos (a rhetorical argument), ethos (the culture of a specific group) and pathos (an emotional appeal) to make about as difficult an argument as there could be?

Based on the school Principal's assurance that the teacher, until this time, had an unblemished record, I would think it fair to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume this was nothing more than a very poorly conceived way of getting students to think and write effectively.  And, if so, it seems to me that a public reprimand and an apology should end the issue. 

Placing the teacher on indefinite leave, by contrast, not only is excessively punitive, but creates an impression that school authorities believe her intentions were, in fact, pro-nazi. 

If they feel that way, they should say so, say why, and dismiss the teacher immediately.  But if they don't - and is appears pretty clear this is the case - then maybe a little judicious backtracking is in order.


BABY, IS THIS CUTE

Ken Berwitz

My facebook pal, ESPN writer Jerry Crasnick, just put this up today.

One little Pennsylvania baby, three little French bulldogs, and as sweet a picture as you will ever see.

Ok, warm fuzzies are over.  Back to politics.


PROGRESS KENTUCKY AND THE DEMOCRAT PARTY

Ken Berwitz

The leftward group Progress Kentucky does not have a thing to do with Kentucky's Democrat Party.  Honest.  At least that is what Kentucky's Democrat Party wants you to believe. 

Do you?

Last week, Mother Jones Magazine ran an audio tape, secretely recorded by operatives of Progress Kentucky, in which Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and his people gleefully discussed what a mess Ashley Judd would be as Mr. McConnell's opponent next year. 

What they said about Ms. Judd was nothing out of bounds at all - though our wonderful "neutral" media spent days desperately trying to sell it as a total disaster for McConnell & Co (while largely ignoring the illegality of how the tape was created, of course).  And through that week, when the public's reaction to the tape was still uncertain, the Democrat Party did not indicate it had any problem with it at all.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Mitch McConnell's downfall:  it didn't happen.  The public heard the tape, collectively yawned at its contents, and some folks (like me, for instance) even wondered out loud what the authorities were going to do about the way it came into existence.

The Kentucky Democrat Party's reaction to this turn of events?  It is running from Progress Kentucky at about 100 MPH. 

Excerpted from yesterday's article at foxnews.com:

Kentucky Democrats have over the past week made numerous, overt efforts to separate their party from Kentucky Progress and its questionable activities.

A former state party official described group members as "just a couple of activists" intent on making a mockery of super PACs, compared to those active in the 2012 elections that were run by savvy political operatives raising millions from well heeled contributors.

"This has nothing to do with the party or even a group," said Chris Tobe, the former state party board member.

Earlier this week, Jacob Conway, a member of Kentucky's Jefferson County Democratic Party, told Fox News that two group members secretly recorded the McConnell strategy sessions.

Conway alleges Executive Director Shawn Reilly and volunteer Curtis Morrison recorded the February office meeting from a hallway, perhaps with an iPhone, and later told him about it. 

Conway said he came forward because he didn't want the situation tarnishing the Democratic Party. 

Yeah, sure.  No problem at all, Jacob.  Why would a left wing group using the same "progress" term Democrats have spent years trying to substitute for "left wing" and/or "liberal", and acting on behalf of Democrats, ever be tied to your party. 

Musta been Republicans.

Now, grow old waiting for the same media which tried so hard to turn this into a negative for McConnell, do the same for either Progress Kentucky or the Democrat Party. 


HOWARD KURTZ'S BS ABOUT THE GOSNELL MEDIA COVERAGE

Ken Berwitz

On CNN's "Reliable Sources" show today, Howard Kurtz tossed a meadowful of BS about media's coverage - lack of coverage to be more exact - of the kermit gosnell murder trial.

The issue is not whether what Kurtz said was completely dishonest, it is only whether what he said was more due more to ignorance or to outright lying.

Noel Sheppard  of newsbusters.org, tears Howard Kurtz a new one over this, and is fully armed with something Kurtz either forgot to bring to CNN studios this morning, or never had:  facts.

Here are a few excerpts...but please do not stop at what I am showing you here, because it does not do the story justice, or anything close:

Kurtz's reporting was just as pathetic as virtually everyone else's to date giving the matter a total of 90 seconds while sharing bogus statistics including the truly preposterous claim, "The conservative media didn't do much either"

He actually called (the victims) "fetuses." That's not what Gosnell is charged with.

Maybe Kurtz - as a so-called "journalist" - could have taken a moment and looked at the actual Grand Jury report to see - in the very first sentence! - what this case is about:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.

KURTZ: Now some conservatives are saying these amounts to a blackout by the so-called liberal media, but it's more complicated than that. First, the Gosnell case has drawn some coverage since the FBI first raided that clinic back in 2010 in such outlets as "Time," NPR, the AP, the "New York Times," Slate and "The Daily Beast." Now since Gosnell's trial begun, CNN has done a half dozen segments including one by Jake Tapper back on March 21st and Fox News did a story that same day.

Actually, according to LexisNexis, CNN has done five stories on this trial, but four of them happened on Friday as a result of pressure coming from reports by conservative organizations such as the Media Research Center.

That means that from March 18 through April 11, CNN did only one story on this subject. Kurtz should have been far more honest about his own network's negligence:

KURTZ: MSNBC like Fox has done a few stories. CBS and ABC carried evening news segments back in January, but there hasn't been nearly enough on the trial, almost nothing in the "Washington Post" or the "New York Times." Perhaps the mainstream press is less attuned to a story that cast a shadow on abortion, but the conservative media didn't do much either.

Really?

According to LexisNexis, Fox has done at least twelve reports on this subject. It's impossible to give a completely accurate read because Fox only provides transcripts for its extended primetime shows.

As for print, NewsBusters has done 21 articles on this subject. Human Events has published nine. The Weekly Standard and National Review have been all over this as have conservative talk radio hosts, bloggers, and the Drudge Report.

As such, claiming "the conservative media didn't do much either" would be laughable if it wasn't so offensive.

Now let's compare that to the liberal media.

ABC and CBS have yet to do one report on the trial. The only mention of it on NBC was by the Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan on the March 31 installment of Meet the Press.

NPR has done one report.

As for Kurtz's claim that MSNBC "has done a few stories," LexisNexis shows none. Of course, like Fox, MSNBC doesn't transcribe all of its programs. I'd like to know how Kurtz came up with his numbers.

Earth to Howard Kurtz:  First, you and your pals in mainstream media virtually ignored this story.  Then, when you were embarrassed into saying something, this is what you've got?

Do you, or do any of your fellow talking heads, think this qualifies as journalism?

If this is what you think it is, you do not begin to know the meaning of the word.


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