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News Items You May Have Missed

News Items You May Have Missed

You may have heard that a veteran teacher in Beaufort County, S.C., grabbed a 12-year-old student by his collar while he was sharpening his pencil late last month, told him, “You’re coming with me, Jew,” dragged him 10 to 12 feet and shoved him under a desk.

“This is what the Nazis did to the Jews. Burn, Jew,” she is reported to have fumed.

The child told his parents later that day and the teacher, Patricia Mulholland, later turned herself in to police to face charges of assault and public disorderly conduct.

Her lawyer said she had just been trying to teach a lesson about the Holocaust – about how random Nazi cruelty could be.

Now comes word from authorities that Mulholland’s actions may be explained by the fact that she might have been under the influence of alcohol or prescription medication. The local police chief, David McAlister, said that although there is no video of the incident with the child, a student’s cell phone camera captured her actions moments earlier when she was seen “randomly singing in class, she fell off a chair on her desk, she called the students `idiots’ then took that back, she then made some derogatory comments regarding the principal of the school.”

“There was just some very strange behavior taking place,” he said.

School officials are now reviewing her lesson plans to find support for her lawyer’s claims that she acted only to dramatize the history lesson she was teaching. But the school superintendent, Valerie Truesdale, is not waiting for this to play itself out in court. She wrote an open letter to the residents of Beaufort County last week in which she called the incident “tragic and unfortunate” and said it was a teaching moment.

She pointed out that in response to several serious bullying incidents earlier in the school year, an Anti-Bullying Coalition was formed. In response to several accidents in which students were killed, a community forum was created to address the dangers of alcohol and drugs. The latest incident, Truesdale wrote, is “yet another opportunity for a reasoned, thoughtful response.”

“We immediately reached out to Jewish clergy and lay leaders to assure the faith community that we were taking this incident seriously and would respond appropriately. … An upcoming meeting of the district’s Ecumenical Partners, comprising faith leaders from across the county, will be devoted to the topic of teaching respect for differences. Reminder training for all school staff is planned for August.”

Another item that may have flown under the radar was the release last week of a once secret British intelligence report that provided evidence that Adolf Hitler was fixated on wiping out the Jews.

The report was compiled in April 1942, just weeks after Hitler’s henchmen drew up plans for the Final Solution, the hastened efforts for the mass extermination of Jews.

The paper suggests that this plan was devised because Hitler, sensing that the war was beginning to go against him, became increasingly determined to succeed at one thing — the annihilation of the Jews.

The report said called it “Jew-phobia.”

The report was recently rediscovered and made public by the University of Cambridge. Mark Abrams, who worked with the BBC’s Overseas Propaganda Analysis Unit and the Psychological Warfare Board during World War II, commissioned it. A colleague, Joseph MacCurdy, wrote it. Cambridge historian Scott Anthony unearthed the document while doing research on Abrams. He said it is clear that as Hitler realized the war was going to be lost, he “turned his attention to the German home front.”

“This document shows that British intelligence sensed this happening,” Anthony is quoted as saying. “MacCurdy recognized that fact. Faced with external failure, the Nazi leader was focusing on a perceived `enemy within’ instead – namely the Jews. Given that we now know that the Final Solution was commencing, this makes for poignant reading.”

The report suggested studying Hitler’s speeches for “latent content” and subconscious insights into his state of mind. It noticed that his paranoia against the Jews – Hitler termed it “the Jewish poison” – had begun creeping into his speeches as early as April 26, 1942.

Of a radio speech Hitler delivered that day, the British analyst wrote: “Its content would presumably reflect his morbid mental tendencies on the one hand and special knowledge available to him on the other.”

An earlier report labeled these tendencies as “shamanism” (Hitler’s compulsion to feed off whipped-up crowds), “epilepsy’ (Hitler’s cold, ruthless streak) and “paranoia” — Hitler’s “Messiah complex” in which he believed he was leading a chosen people against evil incarnate in the Jews.

“Hitler is caught up in a web of religious delusions,” MacCurdy wrote. “The Jews are the incarnation of evil, which he is the incarnation of the spirit of good. He is a god by whose sacrifice victory over evil may be achieved. He does not say this in so many words, but such a system of ideas would rationalize what he does say that is otherwise obscure.”

One side note: The report mentioned that Hitler formed his own team to play cricket against some British POWs. Hitler’s team presumably lost because Hitler declared the sport “unmanly” — and then tried to rewrite the rules of the game.

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