This week in anti-Semitism news, Chicago Public School students are playing a form of "Kill the Jews" on an online game, "Clash of Clans." The response from leaders at CPS? Stay silent first, and then when the news hits, talk about bullying.
Bullying? Is that the new code word for any form of behavior that has a negative impact or result? If I beat up my 16 year-old step son, is it bullying or child abuse? If my Jewish daughter goes to work and finds a swastika on her desk, is that just bullying or is it what it appears? Are KKK members bullies or racists and anti-Semites?
According to the Chicago Sun Times:
Chicago Public Schools officials say they’re investigating allegations of anti-Semitic bullying by Ogden International School eighth-grade students, suspending the ringleaders and hosting two forums for parents at the West Town school.
But the mother of the 14-year-old boy who was told to get into an oven and put on striped pajamas, as concentration camp prisoners were made to do, still was upset Thursday, saying the district isn’t doing enough to address the racism behind the bullying.
“Call it its name. They were racist, they were being anti-Semitic to my son,” said Lisa Wolf Clemente outside Ogden Thursday afternoon, hours after eighth-graders went on a field trip to the Holocaust museum in Skokie.
Afterward, “not one person addressed the correlation between the Holocaust museum and my son,” she said, adding that they missed the chance for a teachable moment.
Clemente said her son told her months ago that several kids at the west campus of the school targeted him at lunch and in Spanish class, showing him pictures of ovens and telling him to get in.
“I taught my son how to handle this situation himself,” said Clemente, who has sought support from the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
She informed Ogden’s principal only two weeks ago that there was a problem, after her 8-year-old son was invited to join a team playing the Clash of Clans game; this particular team, started by 8th graders, was called “Jew Incinerator.”
Apparently, calling their team "Jew Incinerator" wasn't enough for this group of high achieving CPS students. According to Clemente, these little geniuses wrote on the site, “Heil! Throw Jews into ovens for a cause.” They also wrote, “We are a friendly group of racists with one goal — put all Jews into an army camp until disposed of” and then concluded with that famous Nazi greeting, “Sieg! Heil!"
At least they're friendly racists.
What is worse, the response by CPS or the actions of the students? Pretty close, I'd say. They're just kids still so they can't entirely be held responsible for their actions. Albeit, they had to learn these concepts somewhere. Would that be from their "bullying" parents? Similarly, CPS officials don't seem to want to call the students' actions what they really are and have resorted to the safer, more socially acceptable excuse that the victim here was "bullied."
Maybe CPS is concerned that this controversy falls on the heels of a similar issue that arose in Rialto, California this school year where 8th grade students were given a writing assignment asking them to argue whether the Holocaust happened. The students were asked to write an essay on whether the Holocaust was "merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain." The appropriate retractions and apologies were provided by the Rialto school district. CPS officials can take solace in the fact that in Chicago at least the students are aware of history.
The victim of the anti-Semitism at Ogden School was not "bullied" any more than a black student at the same school would be if he was called the "n" word and threatened with slavery and whippings during the course of a Civil War video game. I commend Ms. Clemente for bringing the matter to the public and for dismissing the bullying argument.
I was asked when is all of this racism and anti-Semitism going to end. Not any time soon, especially if we keep pretending it's just some kids bullying each other.
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