Tag Archives: news

Broad brushes and unsubstantiated rhetoric

A friend of mine recently shared a post on Facebook claiming:

THIS WEEK, THE UK DEBATED WHETHER TO REMOVE THE HOLOCAUST FROM ITS SCHOOL CURRICULUM BECAUSE IT ‘OFFENDS’ THE MUSLIM POPULATION WHICH CLAIMS IT NEVER OCCURRED.

Sounds terrible, doesn’t it? The (whole?) UK debating ignoring an important historical event because it offends the (entire?) Muslim population?

Pandering to holocaust deniers when setting a school curriculum would be a heinous crime against history.

Obviously.

So obviously that I’m a bit incredulous.

I’m curious about what actually happened, what was the actual debate and what was the outcome? The post is presumably intended to make people fearful that their culture is being eroded by some scary outsiders. It doesn’t include any specifics and who, where or when this “debate” occurred. So I looked it up. It took all of five minutes to refute this gross misrepresentation of the facts. Snopes.com in contrast provides plenty of specifics and links to sources:-

Its central claim, that schools in Britain no longer teach about the Holocaust for fear of offending Muslim students, isn’t on the money: Even news articles that bore headlines such as “Teachers drop the Holocaust to avoid offending Muslims” only cited a single example of one history department in a northern UK school that did that (and for reasons other than avoiding “offending Muslims”). In all the rest of the country’s schools, information about the Holocaust was still being imparted to students.

As it happens, you don’t have to look to far to find Christian holocaust deniers, but presumably the authors of this wouldn’t tar all Christians with that enormous brush?

Why are people so keen to share this kind of divisive rhetoric that demonises large groups of people, often Muslims, without doing the most basic fact-checking?

When a post says something outrageous, it’s worth hunting for the original news articles and getting to the bottom of the issue, or at least seeing some other opinions on it. Seriously, five minutes is all it takes.

When a post says, “Share if you think this is an outrage” I think we should add “…and you’ve actually checked it’s true.”