We may live in one of the most divisive political eras in history, but there are some arguments that should be settled. One of those is that Nazis are unequivocally awful and anybody who believes there’s more than one way to think about a political ideology that plunged half of Earth into war over putting people into ovens doesn’t belong in public office.
We thought that conversation ended on Sept. 2, 1945, but apparently in 2021, some folks in Indiana disagree. They elected a guy named Scott Baldwin, a Republican, to their state senate, where last week he said this:
An Indiana lawmaker is apologizing for saying teachers should exercise impartiality when teaching about Nazism or fascism.
During a committee hearing Wednesday on legislation regarding how certain lessons are taught in school, state senator and bill co-author Scott Baldwin said, “I have no problem with the education system providing instruction on the existence of those ‘isms.’ I believe that we’ve gone too far when we take a position on those ‘isms.’ As it relates ... we need to be impartial.”
Baldwin apparently wasn’t specific about which -isms he felt we need to be impartial about, but his comments were in response to a history teacher who said in the hearing that he won’t equivocate about the whole Nazis are evil thing.
If Nazism or fascism are both sides propositions, then what other -isms are on the table? Does Sexism deserve a fair hearing? Maybe schools should invite guest lecturers to balance out lessons on racism?
Baldwin has since tried to walk back his comment, emailing CNN a statement that says he condemns Nazism, facism and Marxism, and oh, reminding us all that he’s a Marine, which we know does not preclude having bad ideas about race.
Remember, Baldwin’s an elected official. His job is literally writing laws in Indiana. If you haven’t figured out yet where this is going, one of the bills Baldwin is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 167, yet another proposed ban of Critical Race Theory, which isn’t taught in any grade-level school anywhere in his state.
Not one to let facts get in the way of bad ideas, the text of Baldwin’s bill would make it illegal in Indiana to teach “that any individual should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of the individual’s sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, or political affiliation.”
Even, apparently, if that political affiliation is Nazism.