no certainty. … we can’t be surenabout anything.” Another film, about anGerman soldier who refused to shootninnocent Yugoslavs during the war,nelicited this response from a student:n”The film asks the question: ‘How farnshould we go in defense of our morals?’nI don’t know if we can or shouldngo all the way all the time. What goodnare one’s morals if one is dead?”nGiven the textbook’s approach, it’snnot surprising that wallowing in thencourse for several months leads teenagenhigh-school students to start questioningnthe value of morality and thencertainty of knowledge itself. Throughoutn”Facing History and Ourselves”nthere is a hammerjack refrain that thenholocaust was a logical outcome ofnGhristianity, middle-class morality, andnWestern civilization.n”It is easier to dwell,” the textbooknassures the students, “on Denmark as annation which saved its Jewish citizensnthan it is to learn about the roles of thenGatholic church, the American president,nand the collaboration in manynoccupied nations.” In one reading selection,nentitled “A Christian Responsento Contemporary Antisemitismnin Christianity,” Tom F. Driver ofnUnion Theological Seminary notesnthat “a body of liberal Christian educators”nrefused to go on record againstnthe Rev. Bailey Smith’s vapid remark anfew years ago that “God does not hearnthe prayer of a Jew.” Apparently younjust can’t count on Christians to resistnhatred and mass murder.nCommenting on the rise of thenNazis, the textbook says that “withoutnstrong democratic leadership and thencooperation and support of the majorninstitutions such as the Church, . . .nthe organized and individual resistancento hate was small and ineffectual. . . .nAnd as the state promoted its racistnideas by allying racism with cleanliness,nhonesty, family, and hard work, familiarnvirtues of the church and middlenclass, the rriasses chose to follow.”nIt’s understandable that by the endnof the course, some students havenexperienced something akin to spiritualnrape. “I feel,” commented one, “asnthough something I have had all mynlife has been taken away from me,nsomething that can never be totallynrestored. I almost feel so awful withoutnit, perhaps it’s a form of innocence, anremoval of my protective blinders. Wenall in our struggling humanity have tonclutch to our eyeballs to keep out thencold light of despair. Looking at thingsnas they really are is a form of growingnup.”n”But awareness is just the beginning!”nchirps the textbook, leaping innits final chapter to discuss such contemporarynissues as the creationist-evolutionistncontroversy, the Moral Majority,nand nuclear war. Looking at thingsnas they really are is indeed part ofngrowing up, but “Facing History andnOurselves” wraps reality in such a miasmanof moral doubt and confusionnthat the adolescent minds submergednin this course will never catch a clearnglimpse of historical truth and moralnresponsibility.n—Samuel FrancisnA FRIEND OF MINE sat recentlynon the planning committee for a largennnregional scholarly organization’s annualnconvention. It is not the kind ofnconvention I attend, because I usuallyncannot afford it and I found out longnago that nothing of intellectual substancenever happens at such meetings.nI prefer small specialized groups wherenthere is a chance of learning something.nThe planning committee received anproposal for a paper on “Robert E.nLee’s Humor.” It was not a profoundnor significant subject, but was mildlynintriguing and presented by a scholarnwho is of substantial reputation andnknown to be a good Democrat in hisnpolitics.nA black scholar on the committeenflew into a rage and delivered a tirade,nsome of the high points of which were:nto have a discussion of General Lee’snhumor would be equivalent to a discussionnof Hitler’s humor; the purpose ofnscholarly organizations is to study his-nAPRIL 1990/9n