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Hitler and Trump

Frank Navarro teaching about Hitler and Trump.

Frank Navarro is a veteran teacher and Holocaust scholar of 40 years at Mountain View High School in Mountain View, California. Last week, he gave a lecture in his world studies class that drew parallels between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler’s campaign.

According to Navarro, “both had promised to eject foreigners and make their countries ‘great again.’” He also told his students that Hitler’s persecution of Jewish people bears “remarkable parallels” to Trump’s campaign rhetoric about Muslims, Latino immigrants and black Americans.

One angry parent complained that Navarro’s lecture was one-sided and partisan. Navarro told the San Francisco Chronicle, “This parent said that I had said Donald Trump was Hitler, but I would never say that. That’s sloppy historical thinking.”

However, Mountain View High School’s principal, Dave Grissom, and superintendent Jeff Harding disagree — and have officially suspended Navarro with pay until November 16. Grissom claims he has a responsibility to maintain an “emotionally safe environment” for his students during this time, but Navarro refuses to back down.

“I’ve had Mexican kids come and say, ‘Hey, Mr. Navarro, I might be deported.’ Is it better to see bigotry and say nothing? That’s what the principal was telling me (during our conversation). In my silence, I would be substantiating the bigotry.”

This leads back to the question: Can teaching be politically neutral? Do you omit certain facts or correlations in order to keep the peace within power structures — and, if so,  at what cost? Navarro stands firmly in his convictions and will not be censored. “I think it makes sense,” says the veteran teacher. “It’s factual, it’s evidence-based.” He continued: “It reminds students that history is real.”

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Heather was born in Chicago and raised in Pasadena, California and proudly claims Oakland as her adopted home. She has a B.A. in African-American Studies from Smith College (proud Smithie), and a Masters in Education Leadership from New York University. Heather's spent the past decade working in the field of educational equity and advocacy. She currently teaches Child and Adolescent Development at San Francisco State University and manages a blog called What's Happening Black Oakland? She also contributes to Blavity, a blog for black millennials. Heather's committed to writing interesting and relevant stories that aren't being covered by the mainstream media, while straying away from the single story that is usually imposed on people of color. In her free time she enjoys traveling and going to live shows.

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