[Editor’s Note: The following post is by TDV contributor, Wendy McElroy]
According to Godwin's Law, the first person to invoke Hitler loses the debate. But there is a corollary. Sometimes the comparison invokes itself.
In a legal case that seems headed to the US Supreme Court, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has sided with Hitler against parental rights. Romeike v. Holder involves a German family which is seeking asylum in America because Germany has threatened to remove the Romeike's younger children if they continue to homeschool.
In 1938, Adolf Hitler ordered all German children to be educated either in state schools or in government-approved private schools that strictly followed the Nazi blueprint. The Reichsschulpflichtgesetz (Compulsory Education Law), which specifically banned home schooling, remains in force in Germany today.
The Nazi and American systems of education have always had similarities. The 19th century American education reformer Horace Mann is called the father of American education. The main goal of both systems was not to teach children the three Rs or critical thinking but to produce good citizens. The Nazi vision of a “good citizen” and that of Mann differed but the two approaches had definite overlap. For example, they stressed the inculcation of obedience to authority. Moreover, they reflected a belief that the state should focus upon children because, unlike adults, children were 'wax' and could be more easily shaped.
“This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.” — Adolf Hitler
A key difference between the German and American educational systems, however, is that Americans are legally permitted to home school their children.
That situation may change under Obama. In his 2012 State of the Union address, Obama called on “every State to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.” Traditionally, education is a state prerogative but the federal government is often able to dictate terms because state schools depend upon federal funding.
The DOJ's stance toward the Romeikes is also revealing. The family was initially granted asylum under a statute that applies to any applicant who has a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” US Attorney General Eric Holder objected to the asylum and the ruling was overturned on appeal. Romeike v. Holder was then taken to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals where the homeschoolers' petition was denied. Nevertheless, the court has ordered the DOJ to respond to a rehearing request.
Given that the DOJ brief in Romeike v. Holder was filed on behalf of the US Attorney General, it can be seen as an official statement on home schooling from the Obama administration. It states “The goal in Germany is for an open, pluralistic society….Teaching tolerance to children of all backgrounds helps to develop the ability to interact as a fully functioning citizen in Germany.” In other words, banning homeschooling promotes tolerance and good citizenship. The brief makes favorable reference to a German court ruling that found, “the general public has a justified interest in counteracting the development of religiously or philosophically motivated ‘parallel societies’ and in integrating minorities in this area.” In other words, people whose philosophy contradicts the 'general good' (as defined by the state) should be integrated by forcing their children to attend state schools where they become part of a propaganda machine.
"When an opponent declares, 'I will not come over to your side, and you will not get me on your side,' I calmly say, 'Your child belongs to me already. A people lives forever. What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants however now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community'." — Adolf Hitler
The comparison between Obama and Nazis on education sounds like hyperbole, but it is rapidly becoming less of an overstatement. Consider an social experiment being conducted by the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) – the second largest school district in America. 'Covered California', the state’s health insurance exchange, has granted LAUSD almost one million dollars for a pilot program. One of the program's main goals is to train students to become “messengers” for Obamacare. Specifically, the children will be trained to 'educate' their families and possibly other adults about why they should enroll in the tax-subsidized healthcare program. Public school is now training children to educate their parents toward the correct political position.
Heartland Institute explained, “LAUSD will also use tax-paid staff to promote ObamaCare through phone calls to students’ homes, in-class presentations, and meetings with employees eligible for ObamaCare’s taxpayer-covered healthcare.”
Investor's Business Daily reported the words of LAUSD spokeswoman Gayle Pollard-Terry. She explained “proudly” that the “pilot program” was meant to ascertain “how well teenagers serve as messengers of government-sponsored information.” Investor's reported: “If they prove proficient at influencing their own families to believe material sent home from schools, she said, the teens will be used to deliver numerous other official messages to adults in their home and neighborhoods.” And pilot programs, by definition, are trials in contemplation of expanding the model.
Public schools have always been used to spread state propaganda but the LAUSD program is so blatant that it is being widely compared to the Hitler Youth; sadly, this also becomes less and less hyperbole. The Nazi program was for males aged 14 to 18, with children aged 10 to 14 being divided by sex into two other sub-programs. The Hitler Youth were instilled with Nazi values which they then spread them to relatives and the general public. The program evolved from children teaching their parents to children denouncing those parents who refused to 'learn'.
But for Obama Youth to be truly effective, children must be forced to attend public school or state-approved private ones. He could do it with the stroke of a pen by using his favorite political weapon: an executive order. That is what Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association, expects to happen.
To me, Farris' prediction still seems over the top. On the other hand, I have just compared Obama to Hitler and a LAUSD program to the Hitler Youth. When reductio ad absurdum no longer works, as it no longer does in American politics, it is not possible to say what is overstatement.
There has never been a better time than now to get your children out of America.