Windbag blowing again.
Teens seek debate vs. Limbaugh
May 13, 2005
BY KATE N. GROSSMAN Education Reporter
Rush Limbaugh said on his nationally syndicated radio show that Evanston Township High School students "don't know anything about World War II" and "they've probably never heard the name Adolf Hitler" because they're so focused on a multicultural curriculum.
Some Evanston kids want to show Limbaugh what they know. They want to debate him on American history.
"I think [a debate] would be great because then we'd prove him wrong and open up his opinion a little bit," Sarah Loeb, an ETHS sophomore, said Thursday.
'Balkanizing this country'
Limbaugh's comments came after he read a Christian Science Monitor article Tuesday that profiled global studies courses required at ETHS. Limbaugh railed against multicultural education generally and singled out the North Shore school.
"What multiculturalists is, is balkanizing this country," Limbaugh said Tuesday. "People are coming here from various parts of the world and they're bringing their cultures with them and the multiculturalists are saying 'your culture is better than the American culture. The American culture is discriminatory, it's racist, sexist, bigot, homophobic.' "
Limbaugh's producer did not return a call on whether Limbaugh would agree to a debate.
"Maybe he might be a little intimidated because I don't know his basis for saying we don't know anything," Sarah said. "But I think he might be interested if he wants to live up to his reputation and back up his ideas so he doesn't look stupid."
All ETHS sophomores choose among several "global perspectives" courses covering the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia and Russia. In the Middle East class, for example, students adopt a new identity for the semester -- a Syrian baker or a medical student in Qatar -- and try to view what's transpiring in the region from that perspective.
In 2003, ETHS won an excellence in international education award from the Asia Society and the Goldman Sachs Foundation. ETHS offers seven languages, including Japanese and Hebrew, and has several clubs with an international flavor, including Model United Nations and Amnesty International. Students and staff also point out that the school requires yearlong courses in U.S. history and Western civilization.
"It's funny to me that someone would say we don't know about World War II -- we live in a large Jewish community," said Jane Biliter, a senior. Each year, the school hosts activities for Holocaust Remembrance Week. "Until 10th grade, all we did was U.S. and European history. It's just so false that what he says is funny."
School officials haven't decided how -- or if -- they intend to respond to Limbaugh.
Tests show he's wrong
"It struck me as incomprehensible that somebody would think multiculturalism antithetical to American values," Supt. Allan Alson said. "I was stunned that he had such certainty that our kids were not knowledgeable about basic American history when in fact our student do extremely well" on standardized tests in that area. "It's a shame he lets his conclusions determine his evidence."
Aaron Becker, who teaches the Middle East class, said his students also are considering sending Limbaugh essays they've written on American history.
"This is a perfect teachable moment," Becker said. "Kids are angry and want to respond by showing they know a lot, that it's not a zero-sum game, that you can learn about more than one history."
Becker said the kids will decide how best to respond.
"It's not even worth responding to," said Aaron Hamilton, a senior. "He has nothing to say about my education and my future. He's just a guy talking on the radio."