San Francisco (Oct. 29)
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has criticized the National Education Association’s (NEA) new curriculum on the Ku Klux Klan on grounds that it unjustly indicts American society for being innately racist.
According to Kenneth J. Bialkin, chairman of ADL’s National Executive Committee, “Violence, the Ku Klux Klan and the Struggle for Equality: An Informational and Instruction Kit” — the curriculum being distributed by the NEA — is predicated on the “untenable premise” that the KKK is not an aberration but “the tip of the iceberg … of entrenched racism” in America.
Bialkin made a detailed report on the NEA curriculum at a recent session of the committee here. He told the ADL leaders that ADL had sought to express its concern about the curriculum’s thrust with NEA in advance of publication. “Unfortunately,” he said, “while we met with the authors and some minor changes were made in line with our suggestions, the basic philosophic premise that America is institutionally racist — to which we remain diametrically opposed — was not altered.”
He said that “racist ideas, contrary to the NEA’s basic theme, are antithetical to most Americans today. The nation’s thrust is to achieve racial equality, undo past wrongs and ensure the growth of freedom.” The Klan, he went on to say, is “regarded with scorn and distrust by most Americans.”
Bialkin said that while ADL agrees that it is necessary to develop classroom material on the nature of the Klan, it finds the NEA approach “disturbing and troublesome.”
He declared that ADL is preparing an “alternative curriculum” based on its long experience in monitoring and combatting the KKK. The publication, he said, “will contain much that is left out of the NEA kit about the nation’s advances in overcoming past racism and will more accurately reflect the current attitudes of the overwhelming majority of Americans.”
The ADL analysis of the NEA kit singled out the following statements as “presenting students with a false view of their country”: — “The violent nature of the Klan feeds on a climate of general social acceptance of racism; It is important to remember that the Klan is only the tip of the iceberg, the most visible and obvious manifestation of the entrenched racism in our society.”