Former principal William Latson explains his “tolerance” for Holocaust deniers
I guess former Spanish River High School Principal William Latson imagined that if he fully explained why he refused to call the Holocaust a historical fact it would make things better for him.
Not even close.
This week, Latson gave his first full explanation
of why he told a parent at his Boca Raton high school two years ago that he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event” even though he believed it was.
“I am tolerant of those who did not believe the Holocaust happened at all,” he explained on Monday during an administrative hearing . “I express it through not being confrontational with them.”
Latson said there were parent volunteers at his school who didn’t believe the Holocaust happened, and that was their “personal ideology” that required his own political neutrality and tolerance.
That’s nonsense. There’s nothing vague, subjective or debatable about the existence of Nazi death camps during the World War II.
And the people who question that historical fact don’t have a respect-worthy “personal ideology” -- they just hate Jews.
Or to put it another way, 100 percent of the people who dispute the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Buchenwald, and the other concentration camps, are going out of their way to allow bigotry to dictate their willful ignorance.
And there’s nothing in the job description of a Palm Beach County school principal that requires the nurturing of history-denying anti-Semites.
In fact, the opposite is true.
The Florida Legislature passed a law in 1994 to require Holocaust education in the state’s public schools, a move to counter the quest of Holocaust deniers to remove the mention of death camps in history books.
Latson’s initial Holocaust comment came in response to a Jewish parent who had asked why attendance at Holocaust assemblies wasn’t mandatory at Spanish River High.
“Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened and you have your thoughts, but we are a public school and not all of our parents have the same beliefs so they will react differently,” Latson answered. “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.”
The fallout from that exchange, and how Latson reacted to the ensuing investigation, eventually led to the end of his 26-year tenure with the district.
Now, he’s contesting the terms of his dismissal, and in the process explaining himself more fully.
His explanation is a little fishy, though.
He said that some unnamed parent volunteers questioned the existence of the Holocaust at his school, and he didn’t want them to feel unwelcome.
“I’m not going to have any parent on my campus feel like they’re being attacked,” Latson explained on Monday.
How does this happen?
I’ve been a parent volunteer at Palm Beach County public schools. The Holocaust just doesn’t come up.
It’s not like while you’re volunteering to work the bus loop you find it’s both natural and irresistible to engage in a debate about the liberation of Dachau.
Or while agreeing to man the Project Graduation snack wagon you make sure the school principal knows and respects the latest rantings you’ve read on your favorite white supremacist website.
And this is supposed to be happening at Spanish River High School, which serves one of the most predominantly Jewish communities in Palm Beach County?
I don’t buy it.
I guess you could say that I question the historical certainty of a group of Holocaust-denying parents at the Boca Raton high school driving the school principal’s thinking on this.