The Catholic bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., has apologized for offending anyone with his recent comments that Hitler and Mussolini “would love” the public school system in Pennsylvania, because it is similar to what they sought to create in their totalitarian states.
But in a statement issued by the diocese of Harrisburg, Bishop Joseph McFadden did not retract comments he made during an interview on Jan. 24 with WHTM-TV, the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg.
The bishop made a comparison between the interests of the public school system and totalitarianism, while discussing what he sees as a lack of school choice in Pennsylvania.
“In the totalitarian government, they would love our system,” McFadden said. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all them tried to establish — a monolith; so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.”
McFadden’s comments drew immediate criticism from the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union – which complained that the bishop had raised the specter of the Holocaust.
“We respect the Bishop and his position in the Church. We appreciate his commitment the education of children and the viability of Catholic schools. However, he should not be making his point at the expense of the memory of six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust,” Barry Morrison, Eastern Pennsylvania/Southern New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
I think his comparison is uncalled for and unfair. I am positive that the schools in Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were able to teach almost all of their students to read.
Actually, I see the bishop’s point, as he explained in his apology.
In a statement on the Diocese of Harrisburg Web site, the bishop issued an apology to anyone who was offended by his remarks, but went on to explain and justify his references to Hitler and Mussolini:
“To those who may have been offended by my remarks, I apologize to them assuring them that I purposely did not mention the holocaust,” the bishop said.
“The reference to dictators and totalitarian governments of the 20th century which I made in an interview on the topic of school choice was to make a dramatic illustration of how these unchecked monolithic governments of the past used schools to curtail the primary responsibility of the parent in the education of their children,” he said.
“Today many parents in our state experience the same lack of freedom in choosing an education that bests suits their child as those parents oppressed by dictators of the past. I intentionally did not make reference to the holocaust in my remarks,”
He’s right. I think that in the long run there is going to have to be some sort of school choice allowed in our public school system. The educational establishment is fighting any reform tooth and nail, but the failures of the system have become so obvious that I do not imagine they will be able to hold off reform for long.
- Catholic Bishop: Hitler and Mussolini Would Love American Public Schools (jonathanturley.org)
- Totalitarianism\Power\Public Education (broeder10.wordpress.com) Read this and wonder just what they are teaching our children.