GOP Sponsor of Ohio’s Anti-CRT Bill Blurs Basic Holocaust Facts

A leading sponsor of a bill in the Ohio General Assembly that would ban the teaching of “divisive concepts” like critical race theory has mischaracterized the Holocaust as an event where ” hundreds of thousands of people “have been murdered” for having a different skin color.”

Comments by Republican State Rep. Sarah Fowler Arthur during an interview this month with Cleveland’s News 5 raise new concerns about Ohio House Bill 327 and whether one lawmakers promoting it even understand what happened during the Nazi Holocaust.

“What we don’t want is someone coming in and saying, ‘Well, obviously the German government was right in saying that the Aryan race is superior to all other races, and therefore that he did the right thing when he murdered hundreds of thousands of people for having a different skin color,” Fowler Arthur told interviewer Morgan Trau in a four-minute clip, appearing to take issue. teaching about the Holocaust from the point of view of its perpetrators.

“We think it’s un-American and goes against everything America stands for,” she said.

However, Fowler Arthur gets the basic facts about the Holocaust wrong. Over 6 million Jews were murdered by Germany and its allies during World War II. Moreover, the issue was not their “skin color” – the Nazis justified the Holocaust by making the Jews their own biological race with distinct characteristics that went beyond skin color.

The Ohio legislator then added a puzzling caveat to her argument: “You should speak about these atrocities that have happened in history, but you also have an obligation to highlight the value that each individual brings to the table,” she said.

In addition to trying to stifle the supposed teaching of critical race theory, a concept that, as an academic framework, is only taught in college-level courses, the anti-CRT bill of Fowler Arthur attempts to penalize teachers for not presenting both sides of an ideological argument. .

Fowler Arthur told News 5 that she “has personally listened to Holocaust audiobooks lately” and argues that the level of curiosity should be applied at all levels for such events.

“Perhaps you will hear from someone from Poland when they went through a similar displacement or when they were drafted into the war in some of these camps. Or maybe you are listening to it from the perspective of a Jewish person who has been through the tragedies that have taken place. And maybe you listen to it from a German soldier’s point of view and then you take all these things and you’re asked to write an article about what happened,” she said.

By “German soldier”, Fowler Arthur seems to refer to a Nazi.

A representative for Fowler Arthur told HuffPost that she plans to clarify her remarks in the future, but would not comment today.

James Pasch, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told HuffPost that there are absolutely no “two sides” on issues such as the Holocaust or slavery, and added that his organization is strongly opposed to Arthur Fowler’s bill.

“The idea that there are two sides to the Holocaust is offensive,” he said. “It’s ignorant, it’s dangerous, and ultimately there are historical events – the Holocaust being one of them foundational – where there aren’t two sides.”

He said Arthur Fowler’s comments prove how bad the bill she is sponsoring would actually cause.

“The Holocaust is one of those pivotal moments in world history where the historical accuracy of what happened couldn’t be greater,” he said.

Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, tweeted harsher words in response to the interview.

“It’s repugnant to all teachers and should be repugnant to all lawmakers as well,” she tweeted on Wednesday. “Sarah Fowler Arthur’s ignorance of the fundamental facts behind the Holocaust, including the scale of the genocide and the motivations of the Nazi regime, shows exactly how important an honest education on difficult subjects is.”

Fowler Arthur served on the state Board of Education before joining the Ohio House of Representatives in 2021. She describes herself as a small business owner, entrepreneur and farmer.

His remarks chilled those who view GOP-sponsored House Bill 327 and a companion bill as an attempt to whitewash history or inject “two-sided” equivalence into events where there is none. not. Its sponsors, meanwhile, say it would prevent “dangerous” and “dividing” ideologies from being taught in classrooms.

At least 36 states have passed laws restricting how racism and history are taught in K-12 schools. In 2022, the focus began to shift to higher education.

The Ohio bill highlighted several controversial elements. On the one hand, it would punish teachers for not presenting “both sides of a political or ideological belief or position,” which could result in schools losing funding for violating problematic or impossible standards. establish. It would also apparently ban the teaching of systemic racism and gender fluidity, and instruct teachers to present the news in a non-partisan way.