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California School Asks 8th Graders To Debate Whether Hiroshima Happened

By ReligionMay, 2014January 19th, 20244 min read

Following their earlier wildly successful but somewhat controversial debate exercise, a school district in Rialto, California, has now assigned 2,000 eighth-grade students to write an essay on whether or not they believe the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were “actual events in history, or merely a political scheme”.

The language of the assignment is worth reading in full:

When tragic events occur in history, even events in recent and well-recorded history, there is often debate about their actual existence. For example, some people claim the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not actual events, but instead a propaganda tool that was used for political and monetary gain. You will read and discuss multiple, incredible and non-credible articles on this issue from disgraced self-described historians, and write an argumentative essay, based upon cited textual evidence, in which you explain whether or not you believe this was an actual event in history, or merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain wealth. Remember to address counter-claims (rebuttals) to your stated claim.

The assignment is geared to teach students important critical thinking skills, and particularly to teach the Left-leaning historians of the future the important ability to rewrite entire sections of indisputable history as needed to fit a new narrative.

“Sure, we’ve all been brought up with that iconic picture of the mushroom cloud, but did it really happen? Maybe they photoshopped it like they did the lunar landing?” asked one student. Another questioned some of the numbers associated with the events: “They say 80,000 people died on just one day. Like, could that really have happened? In just one day?”

Students were also encouraged to consider the motivation of the Japanese government to fabricate the entire event. “Sure, it meant they lost the war, but look at how their economy flourished afterwards”, wrote one student.

District officials initially defended the assignment. “One of the most important responsibilities for educators is to develop critical thinking skills in students,” one school-board member wrote in an email to the San Bernardino Sun. “For us free-thinking Californians, history sometimes has to change to fit the culture of the time. Indeed, we have applied to have the term ‘history’ itself changed to remove the awful gender bias and finally put an end to the terrible shame felt by female students of stuff that happened before today, as they prefer to be called”.

But administrators subsequently backtracked and said the assignment would not be repeated, at least not for the current term of the school superintendent Zhang Wei (who replaced recently retired superintendent and brainchild of the Holocaust debate exercise, Mohammad Z. Islam). “We could handle the death threats and bad publicity after our earlier debate exercise, but the blockade by proudly green Prius drivers sent a clear message that we had stepped over a boundary. Clearly a greater level of sensitivity is required,” spokeswoman Li Xiu Ying (who replaced previous spokeswoman Syeda Jafri) wrote in a statement.

The Rialto school district says it plans to respond by offering sensitivity training. The next exercise planned is for each eighth-grader to identify at least two minority groups they associate with, and recommend changes to school policy at large to accommodate them, which will then be put to a vote by the student body.

In this parody thought experiment, David Werdiger looks at a school debate exercise that debated whether the Holocaust actually happened, and considers what might be if the school had debated if the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki actually happened.

This was also posted at [Times of Israel].

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