Catholic Bishop: Hitler and Mussolini Would Love American Public Schools

The Catholic bishop of Harrisburg, Pa., Bishop Joseph McFadden is being criticized for comments where he compares American public schools to the system that Hitler and Mussolini sought to create. I actually think that part of the criticism of McFadden is misplaced, though he is certainly worthy of criticism. McFadden’s controversial statements follow a call for Catholics to organize against President Obama and his health care program by leading Catholic leaders.

In an interview with the ABC affiliate in Harrisburg, McFadden was objecting to the lack of school vouchers in Pennsylvania and the lack of choice for many parents: “In the totalitarian government, they would love our system,” McFadden said. “This is what Hitler and Mussolini and all them tried to establish — a monolith; so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things.” The Anti-Defamation League has condemned the statement and said “he should not be making his point at the expense of the memory of six million Jews and millions of others who perished in the Holocaust.”

I understand the sensitivity to such a comparison, but I do not think that the Bishop was referring to the Holocaust. People should be able to make comparisons to aspects of prior totalitarian regimes without fear of being call insensitive to the Holocaust. The Nazi regime was a worldwide tragedy with many aspects and precursors that are the subject of historical and political discourse.

Where McFadden is wrong is that the comparison is wildly misplaced. First, Hitler was raised by a devout Catholic mother and many Nazis were taught in religious schools. Indeed, the Vatican was criticized by some for not doing more to confront the Nazi regime. Second, the fascists sought to use schools to indoctrinate children to accept narrow values to the exclusion of other values and the objectification of other people. American public schools do the opposite. They are motivated by pluralistic principles to help shape citizens who are tolerant and well-rounded. They are the antithesis of what fascists want from education.

Finally, this is about vouchers and whether the people of Pennsylvania should subsidize alternative schools, such as Catholic schools. With the church experiencing severe shortfalls in attendance and donations, they need more from the state more than ever. However, there are very good reasons for opposition to vouchers. I attended Catholic schools for part of my earlier education and I am very thankful for the education that I received in those schools. However, Leslie and I are committed to the model of public education. While we can afford a private education, we have kept our children in public schools where they are taught in a more diverse class. I have long been an advocate for public education, particularly in the elementary and middle school levels, as a critical part of shaping good citizens. While I have often been critical of the curriculum particularly on civics, I believe that the public schools have always been the key to maintaining a citizenry that is educated and tolerant.

The comparison to Hitler and Mussolini reflects less disrespect on the part of Bishop McFadden than it does a lack of understanding of the fascistic agenda on education: dogma and exclusionary learning. While I believe Catholic schools are excellent choices for learning, it is outrageous to compare fascistic systems to our public schools. Hitler and Mussolini would find our current curriculum in public schools to be a threat to their type of indoctrination model for children.

Source: ABC

151 thoughts on “Catholic Bishop: Hitler and Mussolini Would Love American Public Schools

  1. The US now ranks 25th out of 34 OECD countries in mathematics.

    Yet efforts to pilot privatization and private innovations are met with claims that freedom of choice for students would affect “housing values” and “subsidize schools that discriminate”, which is why our public school students start off behind their global competitors and become even more disadvantaged after a decade or more of pro-government indoctrination.

  2. The “education crisis” myth
    Ignore the media spin. Wages and working conditions — not skills — are the real reasons jobs get outsourced
    By David Sirota

    Has the term “education” become a code word? And if so, a code word for what?

    These are the major unasked — but resoundingly answered — questions to emerge from two much-discussed articles about the future of American manufacturing. One is a cover story in the Atlantic Monthly about why jobs are being shipped overseas. It concludes that “to solve all the problems that keep people from acquiring skills would require tackling the toughest issues our country faces” — the first of those being “a broken educational system.” The second and even more talked about article comes from the New York Times. It looked at why Apple Computer has moved its production facilities overseas, concluding in sensationalistic fashion that “it isn’t just that workers are cheaper abroad” but that America “has stopped training enough people in the mid-level skills that factories need.”

    These pieces were clearly written with a very specific objective in mind: to draw media attention to the supposed “education crisis” in America — a favorite topic of these publications’ elite readers, who have a vested interest in blaming the recession on the poor rather than on the economic policies that enrich the already rich. No doubt, both the Times and the Atlantic achieved their goal, with various NPR shows, cable gabfests and elite magazines spending the last week frothing over the articles’ central thesis.

    The tragedy in all of this is that in both the articles and in most of the discussions that followed, few bothered to question the fundamental assumptions about education in America — and fewer still bothered to ask if “education” in the modern parlance has now become a synonym for “acquiescence.”

    To see how this linguistic shift is occurring, reread the Times article with a critical eye. Specifically, notice that after the reporters structure their piece around Apple executives’ (unchallenged) claim that “the U.S. has stopped producing people with the skills we need,” there’s not a single shred of proof — empirical or otherwise — offered in support of that assertion. On the contrary, after a sweeping declaration at the top of the piece that wage and human rights differences between Chinese and American workers have little to do with offshoring, the article inadvertently goes on to prove those differentials — not skill levels and education — are the driving force behind the domestic job losses in America.

    In one section of the piece, for example, the Times notes that Apple’s big Chinese factory, Foxconn, attracts American investment because “over a quarter of (the) work force lives in company barracks and many workers earn less than $17 a day” — and “many work six days a week, often spending up to 12 hours a day at the plant.” In another section of the piece, the Times notes that the cost of “building a $1,500 computer in (California) was $22 a machine … In Singapore, it was $6 … In Taiwan, $4.85.” While the Times unquestioningly forwards Apple’s impossible-to-believe explanation for these figures (“wages weren’t the major reason for the disparities”), the statistics are yet more proof that wage differences, not education, are the real offshoring motive.

    The Times also quotes an Apple executive saying the company must outsource because “the entire supply chain is in China now” — and though the article doesn’t bother to mention it, that is true precisely because other factories in that supply chain have moved to China for the cheap wages and lax human rights/labor regulations. The Times later talks to Eric Saragoza, an American worker laid off by Apple, who says that Apple told him to keep his job he didn’t need to acquire more skills, but instead “to do 12-hour days, and come in on Saturdays.” And in another part of the piece, the Times quotes a former Apple executive who insists Apple was forced to move to China because there’s no “U.S. plant (that) can find 3,000 people overnight and convince them to live in dorms” — an admission, again, that Apple’s move to offshore isn’t about skills, but about a desire to employ a “flexible” (read: exploitable) workforce.*

    In light of all this, the absurdity of the Times’ “education crisis” conclusion is obvious. Somehow, Dickensian realities are meticulously recounted, but Apple is permitted to plead helplessness without so much as a contradictory fact being mentioned — as if the company isn’t making calculated choices that are generating record profits off sweatshop conditions. China’s super-low wages and nonexistent labor, environmental and human rights protections are shown over and over again to be the driving force behind American corporate offshoring, and yet the conclusion is nonetheless that the problem for America is our education system. And somehow, that conclusion is made without the Times, the Atlantic Monthly or any part of the media echoing their stories measuring it against actual data from the American education system.

    And what, pray tell, does that data say? It says that far from a drought of skilled high-tech workers forcing supposedly helpless victims like Apple to move to China, America is actually producing more of such workers than Apple and other high-tech companies are willing to employ…

  3. Here is a statistic for you guys. Based on deviation IQ, a statistically derived number used by all standardized IQ tests, China and India both have more kids who would qualify for membership in Mensa than we have kids, total.

  4. Elaine,

    If wages and working conditions are the reason jobs get outsourced, are the Japanese overpaid in comparison to their American counterparts?

    From today:

    Toyota to Shift Highlander Hybrid Production to U.S. From Japan

    CHICAGO—Toyota Motor Corp. will invest $400 million in its Indiana plant as it shifts production of its Highlander sport-utility vehicle hybrid to the U.S. from Japan.

    Toyota Motor will invest $400 million in its Indiana plant as it shifts production of its Highlander sport-utility vehicle hybrid to the U.S. from Japan. Jeff Bennett has details on The News Hub. Photo: Getty Images

    The move will create 400 jobs at the Princeton factory that will produce 50,000 more Highlander vehicles a year, Toyota North American President Yoshi Inaba said during a keynote speech at the Chicago Auto Show Wednesday. Mr. Inaba said he also expects more jobs to be created at the auto-parts makers that supply the plant.

    “We plan to export some of those Highlanders to other countries,” Mr. Inaba said. “Our exports of made-in-America products to 21 countries has topped 100,000 vehicles and we’ve just begun exporting American Camry sedans and Sienna minivans to South Korea.”


    Why are these jobs not moving to Mexico? Brazil? China?

  5. puzzling,

    Honda is building a new $800-million auto plant in Mexico. It’s going to open in 2014 and employ 3,200.

    The rising value of the yen vs. the dollar has been killing profits for cars manufactured in Japan and shipped to U S. Also shipping cost from the countries you mentioned to the U S cuts deeply into profits. All profits go to Japan and if the cars are manufactured in North America for the North and South American markets then the Japanese enjoy higher returns.

  6. puzzling,

    I wasn’t completely clear … Japanese cars built in Japan, China, India etc and shipped here aren’t profitable for Japan. Japanese cars built in U S, Mexico, Brazil etc are profitable. That’s why Ford and GM have plants in China for their Asian markets …

    Now Japanese parts for U.S Auto … that’s a whole different ballgame.

  7. Elaine M.
    Great. Thanks. The summation I needed.
    You mentioned education becoming a code word. You made your point.

    But it could be: Education=american worker adaptation to chinese conditions…….forcibly or subtlely.

  8. Elaine:

    Is that true? A computer cost $22 to build in CA and $5 to build in Taiwan? I would gladly pay the extra $17, what is that, around 1% of the cost of a computer?

    That cannot be right, that isnt even 30 pcs of silver we are getting screwed for.

    I spent some time searching for stats on unit costs for computers but cannot find any cost info.

  9. puzzling:

    China can build all the Ipads and Iphones they want. We are learning how to build human organs.

    Free people engaged in voluntary, mutually beneficial transactions are what does the most good for the most people.

  10. Bron,

    Another idea: those figures of 22perPC is I believe final assembly and plugging in the autotest equipment. There is in fact a lot of labor concealed in the purchase prices of the pieces which are parts used in the final assembly. How much is Foxconn owned and how much independent sweatshops is not revealed (Foxconn secret, except to Apple).

    As to:
    Free people engaged in voluntary, mutually beneficial transactions are what does the most good for the most people.

    Find me one country like that and I’ll move there tomorrow. Eureka! Or should I say Utopia????

    Keep on trying to cheer us up. It’s needed.


    Can someone send O. a stiff iron rod for his weak will?

    And as to his vote-fishing: We’ve seen here figures showing that over 85 percent of Catholic women pray to God and arrange for modern contraceptives, that the Bishop sells on the black market. That last bit about the Bishop is obviously a lie, and meant as a poor example of humor. Mea culpa, max mea culpa.

    Does he think he gets catholic votes by caving? Netto minus 50 million instead, he lost the womens’ vote.

  12. Frankly, I’m astounded that any member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy would dare make public utterances about anything our government does considering they have been running the largest criminal enterprise in the nation that protects child absuers and denies their victims proper compensation. The way the Catholic hierarchy has been behaving the past few years is the very manifestation of the Catholic Bishops and Cardinals trying to impose their medieval doctrines and beliefs on all Americans that the anti-Catholic Republican Party so loudly protested throughout the 19th Century when it campaigned against “Rum, Romanism and Rebellion”. Once the Catholic Bishops and Cardinals get their own house in order, start turning pedophiles over to the police, and flush their institution of all those who harbored and made excuses for them then maybe they could appropriately offer their opinions on our public schools and healthcare. But not before.

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