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Conspiracy Theory

The Holocaust is not factual, according to Florida high school principal William Latson



In a post-truth society, obvious facts fall into a gray area when a sufficiently vocal group of people make a fuss. It doesn’t have to be a large group. They just have to be loud about their beliefs. That’s the state of affairs in many aspects of American life, including until recently the way students at Spanish River High School in Palm Beach County, Florida, were taught about the Holocaust.

It isn’t a commonly held conspiracy theory, but those who are known as “Holocaust deniers” have been very outspoken about their belief that the Holocaust of World War II that took the lives of six million Jews never happened. It seems about as implausible as a flat earth or faked Moon landings, but it exists and those who believe it have swayed many to avoid the topic altogether. One such person was William Latson, who has been principal at the high school since 2011.

In a post-truth society, the Holocaust is a belief, not a fact.

Spanish River High’s principal refused to call the Holocaust a fact

A mother pushed for a year to address what she described as a school leader’s failure to separate truth from myth.

She sent off the email with few expectations — a routine question seeking a routine answer. How, the mother wondered, was the Holocaust being taught at Spanish River High School?

She wanted to make sure, she wrote to the principal, that her child’s school was making Holocaust education “a priority.” The response she received five days later, in April 2018, was anything but routine.

In an email reply, Principal William Latson assured her that the school had “a variety of activities” for Holocaust education.

But he explained that the lessons are “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.”

The mother, who asked not to be named to protect her child’s identity, was stunned. Was the principal of one of Palm Beach County’s largest public schools suggesting that the Holocaust was a belief rather than an actual event?

Thinking Latson simply had expressed himself poorly, she wrote back, asking him to clarify his comments. “The Holocaust is a factual, historical event,” she wrote. “It is not a right or a belief.”

She expected a chastened response. Instead, the veteran principal doubled down.

“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened,” he wrote, according to email records obtained by The Palm Beach Post through a public records request. “And you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs.”

He went on to say that as an educator he had “the role to be politically neutral but support all groups in the school.”

“I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee,” Latson wrote.

That response led the mother to launch a yearlong effort to address what she called a school leader’s failure to separate truth from myth regarding the genocide of an estimated 6 million Jews under Germany’s Nazi regime in the 1940s.

Latson has since apologized for the way he handled the situation.

Things may be better for that school district, but how many others are there in America who have as a policy denial of the Holocaust? By even giving an ounce of credence to the ludicrous assertion, educators are not being inclusive. They’re perpetuating the anti-Semitism that has been on the rise in American and around the world in recent years. Between the BDS movement, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semitic activists clothed in “Free Palestine” rhetoric, the last thing the Jewish people and American society needs is fuel for the fire coming from our education system.

If you’re climate skeptic or anti-vaxxer, you’re instantly reviled by the media and much of American society. If you’re a Holocaust denier, your feelings hold the same weight as the facts. We’re entering a post-truth society, folks.

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