Nation of Islam handout sparks national controversy

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, October 29, 2014

NW1029 Teacher Pamphlet

The mother of a student at Harold McCormick Elementary stirred up a national controversy when she told Fox News her child brought home a handout from school claiming the presidents featured on Mount Rushmore were racists.
In the report that aired on the cable news network Monday night, Sommer Bauer of Elizabethton said her 8-year-old son, a third-grader at Harold McCormick, brought home a printed graphic titled “What does it take to be on Mount Rushmore?”
The graphic features a photograph of Mount Rushmore with text under each of the four presidents represented in the sculpture. Of each, it says the following:
* George Washington “enslaved 350 Africans” and was from Virginia, “the prime breeder of black people.”
* Thomas Jefferson “wrote in 1812 that the Indians ‘will relapse into barbarism and misery … and we shall be obliged to drive them, with the beasts of the forest, into the Stony mountains.’ ”
* Theodore Roosevelt “believed that Africans … were ‘apelike, naked savages.’ ”
* Abraham Lincoln said, “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.”
At the bottom of graphic is the web address, which is the website for NOI Research Group, affiliated with the Nation of Islam. NOI is a religious movement started in Detroit in 1930 whose stated goals are to improve the spiritual, mental, social and economic condition of blacks in America. Critics say the group is extremist and anti-Semitic.
Sommer Bauer could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Fox News reported that “she said her jaw dropped when she followed the link” to the Nation of Islam site.
The Fox story says the teacher told Bauer the handout was not meant to be taken home, but was to stay in the classroom.
“I reassured my son that he needed to feel safe enough to bring anything that the school gave him home to me,” Bauer told Fox.
Harold McCormick Principal Candace Patai said the teacher did not intend to give the handout to her students and that she did not give it to Bauer’s son. Patai did not name the teacher, but kept referring to her as “she.”
Patai said the teacher had been researching online for information on a lesson on Mount Rushmore for a class in September. After printing several pages to review for the lesson, Patai said the teacher had discarded the graphic in question because of its “one-sided” nature.
“When she read this sheet, she knew she could not use it, (so she) put it in a pile of papers that were to be discarded,” she said.
“We are not sure how the child ended up with the paper,” Patai said. “… The teacher did not distribute the handout to the students.”
Superintendent Ed Alexander called the Fox News report “inaccurate” and said the network has “defamed” the school system.
“The thought that we as public educators would deliberately distribute such material is absolutely absurd,” Alexander said. “What was reported … was misleading and totally incorrect.”
Alexander says he contacted Fox News before it aired its report and told the reporter that the teacher had printed the graphic by mistake and that the child had taken it from a pile of discarded papers.

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