Our Jewish Son Was “Accused” of Being Hitler’s Child
What the school did and didn’t do about it
Our son, David, was a senior at a diversely populated school in a diversely populated city. So, I would expect that there would be a greater tolerance for minority groups and an understanding of racist history.
One day, in David’s Spanish class the teacher bent down and picked up a piece of paper. He looked at it and placed it on David’s desk then continued with his lesson. David looked at it — a very artistically rendered hand drawing of Hitler, complete with swastikas, and “David’s father” written at the top.
I’m not implying that the teacher drew it, but after looking at it, should have stopped the class for a different kind of lesson — the inappropriateness of such a drawing and certainly the caption, the wrongness of bigotry — so many other lessons.
David picked up his books and the picture and walked out of the room, directly to the main office. He gave the drawing to the principal and said he would never return to that class.
Later that evening the principal called the house. He asked if David had spoken to me when he got home (he hadn’t) and said there had been an incident at school that day. David was not in trouble but would my husband and I be able to come in the next day to discuss it more fully. It was only after we hung up that David explained what had happened.
The following morning we were ushered into the office where we were joined by the senior class dean. The principal reiterated what David had told us and pulled the drawing out of a folder on the table.
There was no mistaking it as a picture of Hitler, little brush mustache, hair combed to the side across his forehead, swastikas on his uniform. And at the top were the words “David’s father.” It nauseated me. I cried and turned the drawing over so I couldn’t see it.
We spoke a while, and then the teacher was invited into the office. He said that he was unfamiliar with the man in the picture and thought that it was David’s father. Really?
Was it possible that someone in this day and age (even from South America, where Nazis were given refuge after the war) wouldn’t recognize Hitler or Nazi symbols?
He may not have known that David was Jewish, but it was inappropriate to give that to anyone. He played dumb which infuriated me, but I kept myself under control. Then he was asked to leave so we could discuss the incident further.
What was the school going to do about it? We were asked what we wanted to see happen. I didn’t believe the teacher should be fired (in my heart I did but knew that was a knee-jerk reaction and not rational nor likely to happen).
I insisted that David be excused from the class for the rest of his senior year without penalty, the teacher be given diversity training and that a report of the incident remains in his permanent record.
None of it seemed like much given what I considered the gravity of the situation, but I think it was the most I could expect.