November 15, 2016
High school teacher on leave after comparing Trump to Hitler
by Taylor Sperry
This is how it begins.
Last week, Frank Navarro, a Holocaust scholar and a World Studies, Civics/Economics, and Special Education teacher at Mountain View High School (in Mountain View, California, that supposedly deep blue bastion of progressive liberalism, of world-changing innovation, of “don’t be evil”) was put on administrative leave for drawing historical parallels between Donald Trump’s election and the rise of Adolph Hitler.
For the school’s paper, the Oracle, Karen Xia reports that a student was “upset” by Mr. Navarro’s “super disrespectful” comments in class, and the teacher was asked to leave after a parent complained.
“This parent said that I had said Donald Trump was Hitler, but I would never say that,” Mr. Navarro told Rachel Swan at the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s sloppy historical thinking.”
“My intention was to connect the history of the 20th century with this ongoing history now. It is consequential,” he told the Oracle. “I refuse to be intimidated from talking about the facts. I see this as an issue of free speech.”
And Tatiana Sanchez reports further comments from Navarro for the Mercury News: “It’s not propaganda or bias if it’s based on hard facts… I said (to school officials), ‘I’m not pulling these facts out of my hat. It’s based on experience and work and if I’m wrong, show we where I’m wrong.’ And there was silence.”
It is not difficult to extrapolate the implications of this kind of behavior. As educators, as journalists, and, yes, as book publishers, there is simply no alternative than to exercise and defend the right to speak up — we will lose ground every time we don’t.
Taylor Sperry is a former Melville House editor.