---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2001 13:15:22 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Residents Express Outrage Over Howard Zinn
Newton Residents Express Outrage Over Leftist Speaker at High School
Howard Zinn Is Leftover from Radical '60s
By Ed Oliver
November 27, 2001
Newton residents lined up at a school committee meeting last night to
express their anger over an incident at Newton North High School on
November 9 where many students were forced to attend an anti-war
On that day, a controversial leftist professor, who is a holdover from
the 1960s named Howard Zinn, gave a speech to high school students
saying US military operations in Afghanistan were morally equivalent to
the September 11 terrorist attacks.
News of the incident enraged townspeople already upset with the radical
school system's disdain for traditional displays of patriotism such as
flags in the classroom and the Pledge of Allegiance, in addition to its
legendary embrace of the homosexual agenda.
Several residents commented on the poor timing of the Professor Zinn
presentation and the disrespect to veterans' families displayed by the
incident. There were also many comments about the embarrassing
reputation of the Newton Schools.
Comments were also made about an underlying hostility to America
displayed by the Newton Schools, such as patriotism being drowned out by
multiculturalism. Several people asked the School Committee to get out
of the 60's mode and start teaching patriotism again.
The school committee, which included Mayor Cohen and Superintendent
Young, sat stone faced under the verbal assault.
A resident, Will Rogers, pointed out that the school committee grew up
at a time when it was very popular to protest. However, he said, "This
is now. I urge you all to get over it. There are certain fundamental
things this country stands for^why you would pick someone like Zinn to
come and talk I have no understanding. It's wonderful to have dissenting
views, but we do that very well without having extremists^Get over it
please. We are in the next century. The 60's and 70's were long, long
A student named Willie Gassett who attends Newton North High School told
MassNews that students had to attend the speech if their class teacher
signed up for it. Although none of his teachers signed up, his friend's
history teacher did and told the class, "I signed up for this assembly.
You have to go or else you fail this class this day."
A resident named Cindy, who asked that her last name be withheld, told
the School Committee that her nephew, a ninth grader at Newton North
High, told her on Thanksgiving that the presentation by Professor Zinn
was not optional and that his entire class had to attend.
She told the School Committee that a speaker with an opposing point of
view should have been presented immediately. "Today I contacted Jean
White, who is the enrichment coordinator on campus in charge of this
specific presentation. When I asked her if she had scheduled an opposing
point of view for the children who attended the Zinn presentation, she
said they did not have anyone, and asked me if I had any names. Why
would the administration go ahead and allow such a presentation without
first arranging for an opposing point of view?"
She said she believes in exposing children to other viewpoints. "I feel
very strongly, however, that when opposing viewpoints on very
controversial issues are not given equal consideration, your teaching
feels as though it becomes an agenda, not an education."
Donna Mazzola wanted to know why parents were not notified about the
Zinn speech. She said she found it ironic that neither of her two
children were present for veteran ceremonies, but both were brought to
the Zinn speech.
"The only positive thing that came out of this event was that my
14-year-old said he and his friends stopped listening and my 17-year-old
said his peers were very angry and hurt. But they felt helpless to
comment. Apparently there is more hope for our young people."
Brian Camenker told the committee that he spoke to several kids. None of
them told him going to the Zinn speech was optional. "The idea that this
was mandatory is true," he said.
Camenker told the Superintendent he remembers sitting in his office two
years ago asking why there were no flags in the classrooms. "You gave me
this bored look," said Camenker, "because there were much more important
things I'm sure." He also said the Pledge of Allegiance is routinely
ignored although it is required by state law and parents ask about it.
Jim Epstein said, "Why don't we get with it. We are in a new age now and
there is a role for the schools to teach patriotism. As far as the age
of cultural relativism, we're beyond that now."
Anthony Pellegrini, a World War II veteran, pointed out that the school
committee room where they were meeting was without an American flag.
Marsha Ciccolo said a young man from the high school told her that
Professor Zinn said we are as bad as the terrorists. He told her that no
facts were presented, only moralizing.
"What on earth did you hope to accomplish by bringing this traitor, this
maggot thriving in this country off the backs of others whom he
despises, to lecture our community's children? Did you really think he
would present a factually sound other side? Or is it that none of you
have been willing to grow up and admit that maybe the sixties are gone?"
Ciccolo said she calculated that, "Fifteen thousand dollars of school
time was wasted on the so-called voluntary assembly. Let's see, Howard
Zinn spouting nonsense, or art and music? Do us all a favor, hold
someone accountable for this blunder."
Thomas Mountain professed his profound disappointment in the city's
school leadership for knowingly bringing Zinn into the school to "spew
his anti-American rhetoric."
Some in Favor
A student representative named Benjamin Heidlige defended the school and
Professor Zinn. He said the fact that the speech was voluntary was made
perfectly clear and those who say it wasn't were probably not paying
Ted Mahon said everyone has the right to be wrong and he is proud of the
Sherry Moor, from a large family of veterans, said the right to dissent
is inherent patriotism. She thanked the Newton schools for bringing an
array of opinions.
Faye Ruup also said patriotism encompasses our right to listen to other
opinions. She urged the school committee not to prevent "diversity of
However, George Caruso said, "You couldn't have done better with the
Taliban" by bringing Zinn in to speak. He said he only learned about the
matter an hour ago and was outraged. He said the meeting should not have
been mandatory and there should be an alternative speaker offered.
Lindsay Dahlben, a student representative, said students should not have
to recite the Pledge of Allegiance because it has "God" in it, and some
Americans do not believe in God.
Supt. Young Says It Was Voluntary
Before anybody was allowed to speak, Superintendent Jeffrey Young read a
prepared statement to the packed meeting room.
Young said that in order to get a better understanding of the issues
involved in the Sept. 11 attack, two faculty members at Newton North
High School discussed with the school's "Human Rights Board" the
possibility of hosting a series of speakers. The faculty was then
surveyed for ideas about topics and speakers.
Young said a plan was developed for a full year voluntary program to
bring in an array of speakers with different points of view. He said
that attending the speeches is not mandatory. But it was later revealed
that a student was required to "opt-out" of the session if the teacher
Young said one of the speakers invited by the Human Rights Board was
Professor Howard Zinn, who spoke to a full auditorium. Afterward,
students stayed to ask questions he said.
Several students and faculty asked whether there would be an opportunity
to hear speakers with opposing points-of-view, said Young. They said
yes, explaining there would be plenty of speakers with the full year
A week later, after the Zinn speech, there were four voluntary
assemblies coordinated by the Office of Veterans' Services, said Young,
which were attended by students and faculty as well as veterans of World
War II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
"At each of these assemblies, the principal invited the audience to
stand in honor of veterans and observe a moment of silence for the
victims of September 11, and to join the principal in reciting the
Pledge of Allegiance."
Young did not say, however, if there were any speeches given by veterans
as part of the ceremonies. He said a photojournalist who covers the
Middle East was invited to speak the next week.
"All events presented by the on-campus program are voluntary. Teachers
sign up as they get notice of events, and students have the right to opt
out^moreover, in no way does the content of Professor Zinn's remarks in
any way represent a particular bias on the part of either the faculty,
nor the administration of the public schools."
Young said he surveyed the 21 school principals shortly after September
11 about the number of classrooms where the American flags were either
missing or in such condition where they needed to be replaced. He said
he ordered enough flags to equip every classroom in Newton and they are
expected to arrive within four weeks.
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