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Indiana State Senator Apologizes for Advocating Neutral Teaching on Nazism

An Indiana state senator has apologized for urging teachers to be “impartial” when discussing Nazism and other totalitarian ideologies with students.

“Marxism, fascism, Nazism, I’m not discrediting any of those ‘isms’ out there,” said Senator Scott Baldwin last Wednesday during an Education Committee hearing on proposed legislation, sparked by the debate around critical race theory, that would add restrictions on public school curricula.

“I believe that we’ve gone too far when we take a position on those ‘isms,’” Baldwin said. “We need to be impartial. We just provide the facts. The kids formulate their own viewpoints.”

Walking back his remarks after being widely criticized, Baldwin, a former marine first elected to public office in 2020, told the Indy Star the next day that he misspoke.

“Nazism, Marxism, and fascism are a stain on our world history and should be regarded as such, and I failed to adequately articulate that in my comments during the meeting,” he said in an emailed statement. “I believe that kids should learn about these horrible events in history so that we don’t experience them again in humanity.”

Baldwin elaborated in additional comments to CNN on Tuesday, saying, “We absolutely need to teach our children about the tragedies of the past, which is why the legislation in its current form specifically protects the teaching of historical injustices. I said Wednesday that we need to listen to and be open to changes that can improve the bill, and we are working on amendments to that end.”

The episode recalled a Southlake, Texas incident in November, when a school administrator told teachers that a new state law addressing the place of critical race theory and other social issues in the classroom would require them to present “0” perspectives of the Holocaust.

On Thursday, Matt Bockenfeld — a US history teacher whose comments during the hearing last week prompted Baldwin’s original remarks — said the exchange reinforced his suspicion that bills targeting critical race theory could prevent teachers from denouncing hateful ideologies.

“Democracy is not value-neutral,” he tweeted. “Teachers cannot just mindlessly provide trivia facts about Nazism but attach no moral judgement to it.”

According to the Indy Star, Baldwin has asked Bockenfeld for his assistance in amending the bill.