New Republic senior editor Jeet Heer wrote a take-down of a a list billing itself as “Scholars and Writers for Trump” because one of its members is a political scientist who once stirred controversy over how she recommended a Holocaust course be taught.
Christina Jeffrey (whom Heer refers to inaccurately as Jeffreys) offered critiques of a course on the Holocaust while serving in Ronald Reagan’s Education Department in the 1980s. Jeffrey argued the curriculum had too narrow of a focus and didn’t offer the reasons for why this horrific genocide occurred and how Nazism developed in her written assessment of a funding grant for the program. The course also covered America’s history of racist terrorism against African Americans, which she thought was not articulated thoroughly either.
“[T]he program gives no evidence of balance or objectivity. The Nazi point of view, however unpopular, is still a point of view, and it is not presented; nor is that of the Ku Klux Klan,” Jeffrey wrote of the course.
What she was arguing was that these hateful ideologies were not explained to students in order for them to properly grasp how they were able to commit their terrible acts. She worried the curriculum inaccurately taught students the extermination of the Jews was connected with the lynchings of blacks by white southerners, as pointed out by PJ Media.
Heer and other critics have interpreted Jeffrey’s words that she wanted a positive teaching of National Socialism in class, not how it came to be. ‘The ‘Scholars and Writers for Trump’ include a historian who thinks the Nazi perspective isn’t getting its due,’ is how the New Republic writer headlined his article. He included the above quote in the context of implying Jeffrey wanted to give a balanced interpretation of Nazism rather than just explaining it.
And it wasn’t just how the course didn’t explain the views of the Nazis and the KKK that left it unbalanced. It also left out other, more recent atrocities, such as the Khmer Rouge terror of Cambodia and the ethnic persecutions of the Soviet Union.
Heer also criticized Jeffrey for saying the course would “change the thinking of students in the same (way) that Hitler and Goebbels used to propagandize the German people. This re-education method was perfected by Chairman Mao and is now being foisted on American children under the guise of ‘understanding history.’”
However, other scholars agreed with the perspective of the now pro-Trump scholar. “Putatively a curriculum to teach the Holocaust, Facing History was also a vehicle for instructing 13-year-olds in civil disobedience and indoctrinating them with propaganda for nuclear disarmament,” Holocaust historian Lucy Dawidocz wrote of the course in 1990.
Jeffrey was nominated to be the historian for the House of Representatives by then-Speaker Newt Gingrich in 1995, but her selection was derailed by Democratic congressman furiously reacting to her quotes as proof she wanted a sympathetic viewpoint of Nazism presented in the course. The Anti-Defamation League later came to her defense to dismiss the accusations that Jeffrey was either an anti-Semite or a Nazi sympathizer as “unfounded and unfair.”
Gingrich is a listed participant of the “Scholars and Writers for Trump” along with Jeffrey and many other distinguished academics.