Governor Greg Abbott apparently believes the terrible historical truth about the Holocaust. Just a few months ago, he signed a new law establishing an Advisory Committee on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Anti-Semitism in Texas, which is tasked with conducting studies on anti-Semitism in Texas and working with schools to combat it. And last year, he made remarks in Austin to help commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
But Abbott was silent last week when a school administrator at Carroll ISD overreacted to a new law on the so-called “critical race theory,” which Abbott promoted and signed, telling teachers to give books with “conflicting” views on the Holocaust – books by Holocaust deniers. in other words – in their class libraries.
The governor may have been surprised, but he didn’t. This result, while extreme, is what you can expect when a governor and his legislative allies pass a law that is deliberately designed to eradicate or dampen the teaching of historical truths that are unpleasant to some people.
The new law specifically focused on teaching racism, which is part of a national right-wing crusade trumpeted by Abbott’s hero, Donald Trump, to feed more red-informed, ill-informed, frightened and biased political bases.
But it is only a matter of steps – or an insufficiently educated generation or two – from emphasizing racism in our history and culture to forgetting slavery or denying the Holocaust and other well-documented Nazi atrocities of World War II. Carroll was just the beginning. There will be other school principals and teachers (for fear of losing their jobs) who will exaggerate or misinterpret this law and start shortening their students. It is inevitable and many of these incidents go unnoticed.
Regardless of personal politics, the governor of Texas is to be the moral leader of all his constituents, and Abbott has missed the opportunity to fulfill that responsibility by forgetting to issue a strong public rejection of Carroll’s response to his bad law.
But Abbott now doesn’t focus on most of his constituents or the quality of public education. It is in his party’s primaries that two far-right candidates call for his re-election. The primary is approaching and will attract some voters that the governor does not want to offend – such as Holocaust deniers and others who may be wondering what it was all about.