Jay Bennish is the tip of the iceberg
For those of you (maybe outside Colorado) who haven't heard the story, Overland High School teacher Jay Bennish was reinstated Friday after a brief suspension following remarks comparing President Bush to Hitler.
Bennish is an unreconstructed socialist. He hates capitalism and his own country. He is absolutely unrepentant about his behavior, as demonstrated in no small part by his choice of attorney: David Lane, the same man who is defending the truly evil Ward Churchill.
Unfortunately, the only apparent result of the events surrounding Bennish, given his free pass on his actions, is to tell teachers that behavior like this will go unpunished and maybe even get some free time on TV...well worth getting a haircut for, as Bennish did.
While Jay Bennish is a problem for his students, the real problem is that Bennish is a symptom of a much bigger problem: he is more the rule than the exception within our public schools.
A perfect example comes from an incredible letter from another Colorado teacher, one Jim Hicklin, at Pagosa Springs High School. He wrote the following e-mail to a staffer at the Colorado Department of Education. It's nearly as stunning at Mr. Bennish's tirade, and represents some of the best argument yet for competition in public schools, the use of vouchers, and the unseen damage that public schools and their left-leaning union lackeys do to our children.
From: Jim Hicklin [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2006 10:23 PM
Subject: Bob Schaffer
To Whom It May Concern:
The actions and statements of Colorado State Board of Education member Bob Schaffer towards Mr. Jay Bennish, a teacher at Overland High School, are unprofessional, inflamatory, and slanderous. Also, they only confirm any similarities between the Bush Administration and its supporters with Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party. Schaffer's actions and public statements would fit in with Nazi diatribes of the 1930's. To call Mr. Bennish "incompetent" and "unAmerican" is absolutely wrong. Since when is it incompetent for a teacher to expose his students to the truth? Since when is it unAmerican to excercise the right of free speech?
George W. Bush is an idiot. He is a puppet. He is incompetent. And anyone who blindly supports him would be unAmerican and unpatriotic. Intelligent democracy, protest, questioning of authority is American.
Schaffer should resign from his position, go back to school, and study American history.
Jim Hicklin, Proud Teacher at Pagosa Springs High School
559 Harman Avenue
Pagosa Springs, Colorado 81147
I encourage you to let Mr. Hicklin know what you think of his views, and to let your children know that people like Mr. Hicklin can be (and usually are) wrong when they express political opinions.
If you send e-mail, you might want to send a copy to the principal of Pagosa Springs High School, Mr. David Hamilton, at email@example.com. Mr. Hamilton's phone number is (970) 264-2231 extension 229.
And here is the information for the Pagosa Springs School District superintendent:
Pagosa Springs School District Superintendent (Archuleta County)
Following is the text of my e-mail to Mr. Hicklin:
Thank you for making Bob Schaffer's point that our public education system is infested with people like Jay Bennish. You prove Bennish is not alone in his abdication of his primary responsibility as a teacher, becoming instead a misguided utopian socialist preacher.
While I find your and Mr. Bennish's views repugnant, that isn't my problem with the two of you. My problem is that you are paid with my money to do a job for Colorado's children. Your job description is education, namely teaching facts and critical thinking. Propagandizing, regardless of the intensity of your hatred for your government, your country, or capitalism, falls into neither category.
Despite your protestations, Mr. Bennish's own words are objectively and undeniably anti-American. And given what his job description is, the fact that he takes up most or all of a class not performing his job is a reasonable basis on which to call him incompetent. The fact that you think Bennish is neither anti-American nor incompetent can only lead me to conclude that you are both of those things as well.
[If you have not listened to the recording of Mr. Bennish, you can hear it by clicking on the link in my blog posting about both him and you:
President Bush is most likely not "an idiot", given that he did rise to become President of the United States. While I am not a huge fan of President Bush, the idea that he is a "puppet" demonstrates your own idiocy. If there were ever a President (at least in modern times) who was obviously his own man, it is this President. Approving of his choices is another matter, but you certainly use words imprecisely for an English teacher.
You present a straw man of "blindly" supporting Bush, which neither Schaffer nor most other Republicans, nor most Americans do. You are right that "intelligent democracy, protest, and questioning of authority is American", but that is not the issue. The issue is that Bennish's geography class and your English class are for the teaching of geography and English, not to offer moral equivalence between Bush and Hitler, or Israeli civilians and Hamas terrorists. It is not the place to go on a verbal rampage against the economic and political systems which have provided your cushy over-protected job, your house, your car, your quality of life.
It's a bit trite after all these years, but it still applies: If you hate your country so much, try living somewhere else...anywhere else...and then give an educated comment about what country and what systems are the best for their citizens. I have done this. While it is true that the United States has its flaws, it is undoubtedly the greatest country in the world in which to live. Maybe that is why so many foreigners want to live here.
And maybe George Bush does some things which do not serve this country well, but he is not nearly as dangerous as you and your hate-filled fellow travelers. I only hope we find a way to fire incompetent public school teachers before you completely ruin our next generation by filling their heads with fact-free, angry, self-destructive, anti-intellectual garbage.
Ross G Kaminsky
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