Yesterday I received an e-mail from two students saying they were confused about the propaganda project that we had started last Monday that is part of my Rise of Totalitarianism in Europe unit. They had apparently gone home and tried to figure out the project on their own. The problem was that one of the students missed the last week, including two days that I discussed in significant detail the definition of propaganda and the different techniques used by propagandists. That left the other student to explain everything, needless to say his grade last semester disqualifies him as a teaching assistant.
So, they decided to ask someone. Enter grandfather. All that the second student can remember about propaganda is something about the government lying during war time. Well, his memory of the lesson appears to have been completely distorted. So the grandfather, thinking I’m misinforming my students gets upset and calls me communist (as related through the student in an e-mail).
I’m just old enough to know that calling someone a communist is not a complement of any kind. I can remember as child in the early 80’s calling other kids I was getting along withcommies. Today’s kids, for the most part, have no real concept of communism, the Cold War, or the Soviet Union.
Now the grandfather wants to talk to me. I am certainly looking forward to that call.
This is almost as bad as when I compared discrimination against various groups and the possible escalation of prejudice. A kid told his parents that I thought discrimination against homosexuals was the same as the Holocaust. That was quite a jump.
I think I need to prepare a list of disclaimers to be signed with the syllabus.