Mad World Nov18


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During the Roselle Park Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, November 17, 2009, Board member Alex Balaban spoke on the Holocaust Curriculum and Cultural Enrichment Curriculum that the Roselle Park school district has been pursuing for over a decade. Born out of a state mandate, its goal is to educate students on various acts of genocide around the world throughout history including the the Holocaust (the Shoah), the Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor), the Rwandan Genocide, the Darfur Conflict, the Armenian Genocide, as well as other genocides. Mr. Balaban went on to state that the lessons learned from awareness of genocides would hopefully prevent future occurrences from happening in the future.

In terms of cultural diversity, Mr. Balaban acknowledged that Roselle Park has a culturally diverse population and thanked the teachers and educators for being on the forefront of bringing such lessons and diversity to students.

Board member Ken Iachio then followed up on Mr. Balaban’s comments.

This is where it all goes wrong.

Mr. Iachio asked if the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were being kept in the forefront of the curriculum since first graders were not even born when the attacks happened eight (8) years ago. He wanted to know if the school district teaches that as well. He asked this question while a huge 3′ x 5′ September 11th Remembrance flag hung right behind the dais where he was sitting.

Before I continue, let me state clearly that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were horrific, inexcusable, and devastating. Innocent people were murdered. Families were devastated. It changed our nation forever. That tragedy should never be marginalized.

With that stated, mentioning the attacks of September 11, 2001 as something that should be in the forefront of a Holocaust & Genocide Awareness curriculum is not only offensive. It is disrespectful.

The September 11, 2001 attacks were carried out by a terrorist group in one day. Genocide is the systematic and widespread extermination or attempted extermination of an entire national, racial, religious, or ethnic group by an army or government. People have been murdered and lived with the fear of death, rape, dismemberment, separation, slavery,  and the stripping of basic human rights for weeks, months, and years on end because of genocide. Mr. Iachio’s statement shows the lack of understanding he has with regard to what genocide is.

Now for cultural enrichment.

Mr. Iachio continued to speak about current events and included the massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, where he declared that “even though that hasn’t been declared a terrorist act, you can draw your own conclusions for that.”

Although there have not been, as of yet, any ties to funding or direction from Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist group, what Mr. Iachio implied was that the massacre at Fort Hood was a terrorist act. It was not. Nidal Hasan is a spree killer. Plain and simple. He is not different than Dylan Kliebold, Charles Whitman, or numerous others who use murder as a lashing out against others.

Mr. Iachio seems to equate that massacre to terrorism due to one simple fact . . . that Nidal Hasan declared himself a Muslim; ergo, according to Mr. Iachio, simply being Muslim and a murderer equals terrorist.

Just to make certain that this is not an isolated incident regarding Mr. Iachio’s religious ignorance and insensitivity, earlier this year Mr. Iachio, while on the dais, stated that on his way back home from South Carolina after Christmas, he saw a public school with the Nativity out front, adding that there is still hope in this country.

In closing, a video is presented below which shows the need for curricula that educates about various cultures and genocide. To be forewarned, the video is graphic but perhaps it could help Mr. Iachio understand his ignorance . . . that along with an apology and his enrollment in some school district cultural enrichment courses.