This story is big here in Denver (where my flight has been canceled this morning…grr): A 16-year-old World Geography student, Sean Allen, taped his Bush-bashing, capitalism-hating high school teacher’s screeching diatribe.
Here’s the audio. You have to listen to believe it.
Teacher Jay Bennish: Who is probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth?!
Unidentified brainwashed student interjects: We are.
Bennish: The United States of America!
Bennish: I’m not saying Bush and Hitler are exactly the same, obviously they’re not. OK? But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use. Very “ethnocentric.”
Update: Ok, I’m transcribing the whole, crazy screed. I’ll post in progress.
Update II: Completed:
Bennish: [tape begins with class already underway. Bennish completing an unintelligble statement about Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.] Why do we have troops in Colombia fighting in their civil war for over 30 years. Most Americans don’t even know this. For over 30 years, America has had soldiers fighting in Colombia in a civil war. Why are we fumigating coca crops in Bolivia and Peru if we’re not trying to control other parts of the world. Who buys cocaine? Not Bolivians. Not Peruvians. Americans! Ok. Why are we destroying the farmers’ lives when we’re the ones that consume that good.
Can you imagine? What is the world’s number one single cause of death by a drug? What drug is responsible for the most deaths in the world? Cigarettes! Who is the world’s largest producer of cigarettes and tobacco? The United States!
What part of our country grows all our tobacco? Anyone know what states in particular? Mostly what’s called North Carolina. Alright. That’s where all the cigarette capitals are. That’s where a lot of them are located from. Now if we have the right to fly to Bolivia or Peru and drop chemical weapons on top of farmers’ fields because we’re afraid they might be growing coca and that could be turned into cocaine and sold to us, well then don’t the Peruvians and the Iranians and the Chinese have the right to invade America and drop chemical weapons over North Carolina to destroy the tobacco plants that are killing millions and millions of people in their countries every year and causing them billions of dollars in health care costs?
Make sure you get these definitions down.
Capitalism: If you don’t understand the economic system of capitalism, you don’t understand the world in which we live. Ok. Economic system in which all or most of the means of production, etc., are owned privately and operated in a somewhat competitive environment for the purpose of producing PROFIT! Of course, you can shorten these definitions down. Make sure you get the gist of it. Do you see how when, you know, when you’re looking at this definition, where does it say anything about capitalism is an economic system that will provide everyone in the world with the basic needs that they need? Is that a part of this system? Do you see how this economic system is at odds with humanity? At odds with caring and compassion? It’s at odds with human rights.
Anytime you have a system that is designed to procure profit, when profit is the bottom motive — money — that means money is going to become more important potentially than what? Safety, human lives, etc.
Why did we invade Iraq?! How do we know that the invasion of Iraq for weapons of mass destruction– even if weapons had been found, how would you have known, how could you prove–that that was not a real reason for us to go there.
There are dozens upon dozens of countries that have weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is one of dozens. There are plenty of countries that are controlled by dictators, where people have no freedom, where they have weapons of mass destruction and they could be potentially threatening to America. We’re not invading any of those countries!
I’ll give you guys another minute or two to get some of these [definitions] down. I agree with Joey. Try to condense these a little bit. I took these straight out of the dictionary.
Anyone in here watch any of Mr. Bush’s [State of the Union] speech last night? I’m gonna talk a little about some of things he had to say.
…One of things that I’ll bring up now, since some of you are still writing, is, you know, Condoleezza Rice said this the other day and George Bush reiterated it last night. And the implication was that the solution to the violence in the Middle East is democratization. And the implication through his language was that democracies don’t go to war. Democracies aren’t violent. Democracies won’t want weapons of mass destruction. This is called blind, naive faith in democracy!
Who is probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth?!
Unidentified brainwashed student interjects: We are.
The United States of America! And we’re a democracy. Quote-unquote.
Who has the most weapons of mass destruction in the world? The United States.
Who’s continuing to develop new weapons of mass destruction as we speak?!
The United States.
So, why does Mr. Bush think that other countries that are democracies won’t wanna be like us? Why does he think they’ll just wanna be at peace with each other?! What makes him think that when the Palestinians get their own state that they won’t wanna preemptively invade Israel to eliminate a potential threat to their security just like we supposedly did in Iraq?! Do you see the dangerous precedent that we have set by illegally invading another country and violating their sovereignty in the name of protecting us against a potential future–sorry–attack? [Unintelligible.]
Why doesn’t Mexico invade Guatemala? Maybe they’re scared of being attacked. Ok. Why doesn’t North Korea invade South Korea?! They might be afraid of being attacked. Or maybe Iran and North Korea and Saudi Arabia and what else did he add to the list last night – and Zimbabwe – maybe they’re all gonna team up and try and invade us because they’re afraid we might invade them. I mean, where does this cycle of violence end? You know?
This whole “do as I say, not as I do” thing. That doesn’t work. What was so important about President Bush’s speech last night–and it doesn’t matter if it was President Clinton still it would just as important) is that it’s not just a speech to America. But who? The whole world! It’s very obvious that if you listen to his language, if you listen to his body language, and if you paid attention to what he was saying, he wasn’t always just talking to us. He was talking to the whole planet. Addressing the whole planet!
He started off his speech talking about how America should be the country that dominates the world. That we have been blessed essentially by God to have the most civilized, most advanced, best system and that it is our duty as Americans to use the military to go out into the world and make the whole world like us.
Sounds a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler use to say.
We’re the only ones who are right. Everyone else is backwards. And it’s our job to conquer the world and make sure they live just like we want them to.
Now, I’m not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same. Obviously, they are not. Ok. But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use. Very, very “ethnocentric.” We’re right. You’re all wrong.
I just keep waiting. You know, at some point I think America and Mexico might go to war again. You know. Anytime Mexico plays the USA in a soccer match. What can be heard chanting all game long?
Do all Mexicans dislike the United States? No. Do all Americans dislike Mexico? No. But there’s a lot of resentment–not just in Mexico, but across the whole world–towards America right now.
We told–Condoleezza Rice said–that now that Hamas got elected to lead the Palestianians that they have to renounce their desire to eliminate Israel. And then Condoleezza Rice also went on to say that you can’t be for peace and support armed struggle at the same time. You can’t do that. Either you’re for peace or war. But you can’t be for both.
What is the problem with her saying this? That’s the same thing we say. That is exactly the same thing this current administration says. We’re gonna make the world safe by invading and killing and making war. So, if we can be for peace and for war, well, why can’t the Palestinians be for peace and for war?!
*Student Sean Allen, who is taping Bennish’s rant, speaks up:*
Allen: Isn’t there a difference of, of, having Hamas being like, we wanna attack Israelis because they’re Israelis, and having us say we want to attack people who are known terrorists? Isn’t there a difference between saying we’re going to attack innocents and we’re going to attack people who are not innocent?
Bennish: I think that’s a good point. But you have to remember who’s doing the defining of a terrorist. And what is a terrorist?
Allen: Well, when people attack us on our own soil and are actually attempting to take American lives and want to take American lives, whereas, Israelies in this situation, aren’t saying we want to blow up Palestine…
Bennish: How did Israel and the modern Israeli state even come into existence in the first place?
Allen: We gave it to them.
Bennish: Sort of. Why? After the Israel-Zionist movement conducted what? Terrorist acts. They assassinated the British prime minster in Palestine. They blew up buildings. They stole military equipment. Assassinated hundreds of people. Car bombings, you name it. That’s how the modern state of Israel was made. Was through violence and terrorism. Eventually we did allow them to have the land. Why? Not because we really care, but because we wanted a strategic ally. We saw a way to us to get a hook into the Middle East.
If we create a modern nation of Israel, then, and we make them dependent on us for military aid and financial aid, then we can control a part of the Middle East. We will have a country in the Middle East that will be indebted to us.
Allen: But is it ok to say it’s just to attack Israel? If it’s ok to attack known terrorists, it’s ok to attack Israel?
Bennish: If you were Palestinians, who are the real terrorists? The Israelis, who fire missiles that they purchased from the United States government into Palestinian neighborhoods and refugees and maybe kill a terrorist, but also kill innocent women and children. And when you shoot a missile into Pakistan to quote-unquote kill a known terrorist, and we just killed 75 people that have nothing to do with al Qaeda, as far as they’re concerned, we’re the terrorists. We’ve attacked them on their soil with the intention of killing their innocent people.
Allen: But we did not have the intention of killing innocent people. We had the intention of killing an al Qaeda terrorist.
Bennish: Do you know that?
Allen: So, you’re saying the United States has intentions to kill innocent people?
Bennish: I don’t know the answer to that question.
Allen: But what gain do we get from killing innocent people in the Middle East? What gain does that pose to us?
Bennish: Let me ask you this. During the 1980s, Iran and Iraq were involved in an 8-year-long war. The United States sold missiles, tanks, guns, planes, to which side?
Unidentified student: Iraq?
Bennish: Both. The answer is both. Why would we send armaments to two sides that are fighting each other. That seems to be self-defeating. Don’t we want one side to win? Not always! Sometimes you just want there to be conflict!
The British — this is one of the grand strategies of the British imperial system–was to play local animosities off each other. To prevent them is to divide and conquer.
Do we really want the Middle East to unite as one cohesive political and cultural body?
No! Because then they could what? Threaten our supremacy.
We want to keep the world divided. Do we really want to kill innocent people? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that.
I know there are some Americans who do. People who work in the CIA. People who have to think like that. Those kind of dirty minds, dirty tricks. That’s how the intelligence world works. Sometimes you do want to kill people just for the sake of killing them. Right?
Listen, between the years 1960 and 1962, the United States through the CIA conducted over 7,000 terrorist sabotage attacks against the small island nation of Cuba. Over 7,000 terrorist attacks were waged against just one little country called Cuba in a two year period, intentionally, let me rephrase that, intentionally blowing up medical supplies, intentionally burning down crops that feed their country, thereby creating starvation, right? Intentionally trying to make that system collapse. And we’re willing to expend however many thousands of people died because we just want to get rid of Castro. And the sad reality is that there are some policy planners who are willing to let people die in order to achieve their objectives.
Now, do I think President Bush says ‘I’d like to go kill some innocent Palestianians?’ I don’t think he thinks like that. But I also know that he’s not the only one making decisions. I also know that after September 11, President Bush got on TV and he said, ‘You will feel our wrath. You will feel the full force of the United States military. There will be paybacks.’ He said it again last night. He said, ‘We’ve killed a lot of top-ranking al Qaeda members. And for those who aren’t killed yet, you’re day will come!’ Right? That kind of language to me is very obvious.
And when you go trying to kill one particular type of person, you know that you’re gonna kill other people, too. And let me ask you this…
Allen: Later in that, he stated that he’s [Osama bin Laden] trying to kill innocents…
Bennish: I understand that, but hold on, you have to understand something, that when al Qaeda attacked America on September 11, in their view, they’re not attacking innocent people. Ok. The CIA has an office at the World Trade Center. The Pentagon is a military target. The White House was a military target. Congress is a military target. The World Trade Center is the economic center of our entire economy.
The FBI, who tracks down terrorists and so on and so forth around the world, has offices in the World Trade Center. Some of the companies that work in the World Trade Center are these huge multinational corporations that are directly involved in the military-industrial complex in supporting corrupt dictatorships in the Middle East.
And so in the minds of al Qaeda, they’re not attacking innocent people. They’re attacking legitimate targets. People who have blood on their hands as far as they’re concerned!
We portray them as innocent because they’re our friends and neighbors, family, loved ones. One of my best friends from high school, elementary school, and birth, lives in lower Manhattan. You know, he was right there, he was four blocks away from it. So, anytime it comes close to home, you begin to see things differently.
In no way am I implying, I don’t know, you got to figure this stuff out for yourself, but I want you to think about these things–you know, think about this right here. [Apparently pointing to American flag.] Here’s the real homeland security. Fighting terrorism since 1492! Ok. I mean, to many Native Americans, that flag is no different than the Nazi flag or the Confederate flag. It represents the people that came and stole their land, lied, brought disease, rape, pillage, destruction, etc. So it all depends upon varying people’s perspectives
varying. And of course, we’re going to see ourselves as being in the right , at least the majority of us, because that’s us.
Allen: But we were the ones that were attacked first. On September 11, 2001,
we were the ones that were attacked. We were not attacking anybody until that point. Then we said ok, we’re going into Afghanistan. Then we said ok, the Iraqi government has ties with al Qaeda. We’re going to go into Iraq. We were the ones that were attacked.
Bennish: In actuality, if you remember back to my first day, the Sept. 11 attacks were, according to bin Laden, a direct response to our 1) support of the nation of Israel, which they consider to be a terrorist regime that does not have the right to control the land that the Palestinians lived on for over 1,500 years, and they also did it because of what George Clinton did–Bill Clinton, not George Clinton, they had a little documentary on him on PBS last night I was watching–Bill Clinton, when he launched the missile attacks into Afghanistan and Sudan and killed thousands of innocent Africans and Afghanistan people – Afghanis – that had nothing to do with al Qaeda or anything. In fact, in sudan, he blew up the country’s largest pharmaceutical plant, which was producing medicines, alright, um, you know, that’s as far as, in their eyes, that was retaliation for those attacks.
And so this whole idea of who attacked who first, how far back in time do you wanna go!? This is the whole thing with the Arab-Israeli conflict. Well, who was there first? Well, if you believe the Bible, you say, well, God gave the land of Canaan to the Israelites. But who was in that land when they got there? The Canaanites, who some archeologists would argue are the ancient descendants of the Palestinians. You know.
Other archeologists say the Hebrews didn’t really come from Egypt. They were actually a group of Canaanites who decided they didn’t like the other Canaanites and developed this story afterward to justify how they killed all their neighbors
and took over the land.
Alright, and so this becomes very, very muddled. And I’m not in any way implying that you should agree with me. I don’t even know if I’m necessarily taking a position. But what I’m trying to get you to do is to think, right, about these issues more in-depth, you know, and not just take things from the surface. And I’m glad you asked all your questions, because they’re very good, legitimate questions. And hopefully that allows other people to begin to think about some of those things, too.
Update: The teacher has been put on leave. I think he needs medical help. (Hat tip: Tony J.) Via the Rocky Mountain News:
An Overland High School geography teacher was put on leave Wednesday while Cherry Creek Schools investigates whether he violated district policy that requires balanced viewpoints in the classroom.
Jay Bennish, who teaches 10th grade world geography, is being investigated for making biased, anti-President Bush comments in class during a discussion of the State of the Union speech last month.
“These are serious allegations and we’re very concerned about it,” said Tustin Amole, spokeswoman for Cherry Creek Schools. “This does not reflect the type of teaching that we want to see in Cherry Creek school district.”
Bennish could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
On Feb. 1, Bennish, who has been at Overland High School since the fall of 2000, had a discussion in his class about the State of the Union address.
Sean Allen, a student in the class, taped the discussion, in which Bennish made a number of unfavorable comments about Bush that upset Allen’s father.
“He said that some people may compare (Bush) to Hitler,” Amole said.
The school district did not learn about Bennish’s lecture until last Wednesday, when it received an e-mail about it from an out-of-state person who had seen an online column on it written by Walter Williams on www.townhall.com, Amole said. That same day, Allen’s father also called the principal of Overland High School to complain about the teacher, and the complaint was forwarded to the district, which began its investigation.
“After listening to the tape, it’s evident the comments in the class were inappropriate,” Amole said. “There were not adequate opportunities for opposing points of view.”
Allen’s father apparently gave a copy of the taped discussion to KOA radio host Mike Rosen, who did a show on the subject Wednesday.
KOA has made Bennish’s 20-minute rant available as a podcast here.
Denver Post coverage here.
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