Striking back at Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott's ban on critical race theory teaching in schools, a school administrator in the state has suggested books on Holocaust denial to support "opposing" views, sparking outrage.
The orchestrator of the "political mess" is Carroll Independent School District in Southlake, Texas, and it had leftists on Twitter weaponizing the "overreaction" to attack Abbott and a predominantly white Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Southlake for book banning.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., pounced in a tweet Thursday night, sharing an NBC News narrative on the story: "So let me get this straight – the non-existent threat of 'critical race theory' has caused Texas to mandate the teaching of Holocaust denial? This seems to be getting A LITTLE out of hand."
A look at the facts preceding this shows Carroll had an issue after a parent complained last year because her daughter brought home "This Book Is Anti-Racist" by Tiffany Jewell. The administrators declined to discipline the teacher, but this Oct. 4, the school board voted to overrule the district's decision and formally reprimand the teacher, according to NBC News.
A Carroll teacher hung caution tape in front of the books in a classroom after Abbott signed the Texas law banning critical race theory, according to the report.
"Teachers are literally afraid that we're going to be punished for having books in our classes," an elementary school teacher told NBC News. "There are no children's books that show the 'opposing perspective' of the Holocaust or the 'opposing perspective' of slavery. Are we supposed to get rid of all of the books on those subjects?"
Republican Sen. Bryan Hughes, the author of Senate Bill 3, says this book-banning controversy takes the language of the bill out of context. He asserts critics are incorrectly comparing the forced teaching of Holocaust denial books with the removal of anti-white literature from classrooms.
"That's not what the bill says," Hughes told NBC News. "I'm glad we can have this discussion to help elucidate what the bill says, because that's not what the bill says."
Critical race theory is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as the concept in which race is a socially constructed category ingrained in American law intended to maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and nonwhites. It holds that the U.S. society is inherently or systemically racist.
Defending teachers, the Texas State Teachers Association added there is nothing in the law banning books in classroom libraries, which had TSTA spokesman Clay Robison rebuking the "overreaction" and "misinterpretation."
"We find it reprehensible for an educator to require a Holocaust denier to get equal treatment with the facts of history," Robison said. "That's absurd. It's worse than absurd. And this law does not require it."
And, despite the outrage, Carroll Superintendent Lane Ledbetter says the school does not do that, and the remarks of teachers on an NBC News recording, suggesting the school is forcing Holocaust denial is false flag operation.
His school intends "in no way to convey that the Holocaust was anything less than a terrible event in history," he wrote on Facebook.
"Additionally, we recognize there are not two sides of the Holocaust," he wrote in the post. "As we continue to work through implementation of HB [House Bill] 3979, we also understand this bill does not require an opposing viewpoint on historical facts."
But, progressive Democrats in Washington, D.C., caught quick wind of the NBC News report out of Texas, weaponizing it to defend critical race theory and bash those that seek to reduce it in schools.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted: "There's a reason white supremacy attacks history. Opposition to teaching bigotry's history and where it leads — from the slave trade to the Holocaust — is about erasing society’s tools to recognize prejudice & prevent atrocity. Holocaust denial has no place in our society. None."
The Carroll school leadership and Gov. Abbott's law agrees.
The narrative of pushing books denying the Holocaust was started by Gina Peddy, the Carroll school district's executive director of curriculum and instruction, who was recorded on audio published by NBC News.
"Just try to remember the concepts of [House Bill] 3979," Peddy said in NBC News' audio, talking about teachers discussing "widely debated and currently controversial" issues. "And make sure that if you have a book on the Holocaust," she continued, "that you have one that has an opposing, that has other perspectives."
"How do you oppose the Holocaust?" a teacher asked in response.
"Believe me, that's come up," Peddy replied.
Peddy was trying to reassure the teachers that the administration supported them.
"We are in the middle of a political mess," Peddy said in the recording. "And you are in the middle of a political mess. And so we just have to do the best that we can."
Despite the controversy in the school, Peddy told the teachers to use their best judgment on what is right for teaching the kids.
"You are professionals," Peddy said. "We hired you as professionals. We trust you with our children. So, if you think the book is OK, then let's go with it, and whatever happens we will fight it together."
While the NBC News story published the audio suggesting Peddy wanted teachers to consider Holocaust denial books, there are no indications in any reports, as of this writing, that any teacher wanted to have Holocaust denial books.
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