On Wednesday, a New York City high school teacher showed students a meme showing President Donald Trump alongside Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, with the captions “Il Duce” below Mussolini and “Il Douche” below Trump. An appalled mother told PJ Media the teacher later apologized, although he said he has showed the image in a lesson about fake news. He had also showed images attacking former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“My daughter is a 9th grader, she sent me a photo of this meme with Mussolini and President Trump displayed in her social studies classroom,” the mother, who opted to remain anonymous, told PJ Media. “She couldn’t tell me why it was displayed other than the fact that they are studying world dictators” (emphasis added).
The mother, disgusted, reached out to authorities. “I was appalled, contacted the teacher, principal and school board via email,” she told PJ Media. “Her social studies teacher called me after I sent the email, agreeing with me the image is disgraceful and stating he was using this image to help teach the kids about fake news.”
According to the teacher, he had also shown “a photo of former President Obama and Mussolini. He also said it is sad to see the lack of respect displayed for our leaders this day and age.”
“I told him his point of fake news was not made clear in class and should be reiterated the following day,” the mother recalled.
“I have not heard from the principal or the school board regarding the inappropriate classroom content, but did send them all a follow-up email,” she told PJ Media. “My email restated what the teacher sad, then made a suggestion to use something more tactful such as populist.tv to teach the students how to spot fake news.”
The mother, shaken, concluded that she has no other option than to trust the teacher’s version of events. “At this point I must take his word and keep a watchful eye on the content in the classroom,” she concluded.
To some degree, her daughter’s account verified the teacher’s story. “She did say there were memes up before this particular one with Hillary Clinton dressed as Hitler. She was uncomfortable and it seemed the other students were as well,” the mother said.
On Thursday, the teacher apologized to the class, the mother told PJ Media. “The teacher apologized to the class today because of an outraged parent, saying he was wrong for displaying this sort of ‘fake news.'”
Needless to say, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and Barack Obama aren’t comparable to dictators like Adolf Hitler and Bento Mussolini.
Benito Mussolini ranks among the worst dictators in world history. He infamously teamed up with Adolf Hitler, even going so far as sending Jews to the concentration camps. He reportedly killed 80,000 in the Pacification of Libya, 661,500 in Italian-occuped Ethiopia, and 153,200 Italian civilians, including the Jews he killed at Hitler’s request. All told, he was responsible for nearly 900,000 deaths.
As for the captions, Mussolini was referred to as “Il Duce,” a title that translates to “the leader.” A douche, by contrast, is a device to shoot water inside a woman’s vagina in order to clean it. While comparing Trump and Mussolini is offensive enough, the insulting caption put that meme into another disgusting category.
As for populist.tv, it is a site dedicated to fighting fake news, founded by investigative journalist Lee Stranahan. Stranahan has written for Breitbart News, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Sputnik, a Russian government-controlled news agency. For this reason, populist.tv may prove a rather controversial alternative.
Teachers should know better than to give such offensive memes airtime in class — whether they attack Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in such a way. At least this teacher did not just display offensive memes against one side, and at least he apologized the very next day.
Students should learn about fake news, but there are many examples far less offensive and more fitting for the classroom.