It looks like the press has found another scapegoat. Must be that the Ward Churchill bashing was no longer pulling in the high ratings, so now begins the Bashing of Bennish.
Jay Bennish is a high school geography teacher at Overland High School in Aurora, Colorado. Recently one of his students taped some of Bennish's comments during a class. I am not offended that a student would take that action, either on his own or under the direction of someone with less than pure motives. All classrooms should be open to public scrutiny at all times.
A while back in Vermont there was an incident. In the middle of the night the local police chief gained entrance into the high school classroom of a teacher who was an anti-war activist. The chief was on a mission to inspect the classroom bulletin board. He suspected that there might be some anti-war material posted there. "Can't have none of that there Commie stuff infecting the minds of our youth."
Anti-war information, anti-capitalist information, anti-government information, anti-military information are now verboten. In other words, we have become an anti-information culture. Any discussion of the important issues is not allowed. No one is allowed to stray too far outside the Democrat/Republican box.
Hannity and Colmes aired their views of the Bennish classroom controversy during their March 2nd program. It is not surprising that both Sean and Alan bashed Bennish. "Fair and balanced" has never been a view that is held at Fox or MSNBC or CNN. More importantly, fair, balanced, and factual information is also missing from many textbooks currently in use in our government run schools.
What is remarkable is the consistency of the media to engage in ad hominem attacks against anyone who holds an out-of-the-box global view. The folks at FOX really need to get out more. Out here in the real world there are many different global views. Some citizens in this country don't support Capitalism. Ain't that a shocker. Some folks even refer to it as, "Predatory Capitalism". Some folks don't support wars of aggression and many do not support the occupation of other countries by this government. Sometimes anti-war activists are tolerated, but anti-capitalist activists, now that is a whole other issue. It strikes at the heart of the Empire.
It is the educational system that has enabled the global aggressions that have inflamed the rest of the world. The Harvard/napalm connection is just one old example of the military-university complex. The failure of our schools to give an accurate view of world history is an even bigger problem that educators often ignore. This is not a freedom of speech issue. It is an issue of the right of students to have access to accurate historical information. Do students have the legal right to accurate historical information?
I applaud Bennish. He is one of the few with the moral fortitude to do the right thing. We should not allow him to be alone in bearing the burden that comes with exposing the truth. If the facts that Bennish presented to his class were wrong, then and only then, should he be criticized. I have yet to hear anyone attack the information he presented to his students. Instead of bashing Bennish, he should be a candidate for "The Teacher of the Year" award. The entire country should be examining the lessons that Bennish attempted to teach. A free and open discussion of the information would benefit this "Mis-informed R us Nation.”
Unfortunately this Bennish blip on the media's radar screen will go down as just one more missed opportunity for the Press to become informed. It is doubtful that the issues that Bennish bought to his students will ever be addressed in the media in this country.
The recently released Bin Laden tape made a reference to a book by William Blum. Those in the media who interviewed Blum immediately after the tape was released never seemed to get the point. The serious issues in Blum's books were never discussed and it is doubtful that the information that Bennish tried to give to his students will ever be discussed openly.
Until those in the media are themselves educated enough to discuss the important issues, the ad hominem attacks will continue. Sean and Alan, you really should get out more.
Rosemarie Jackowski is an advocacy journalist living in Vermont. She is currently waiting for the State Supreme Court to render its decision on the Appeal of her conviction. She had been arrested, tried, and convicted for participating in a peaceful protest of the war. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Articles by Rosemarie Jackowski
Make the World Worse: A Letter to Kate O'Beirne