Indiana State Lawmaker Walks Backs Remarks Suggesting School Teachers Should Not ‘Take a Position’ on Nazism

Indiana State Senator Scott Baldwin.

January 11, 2022

An Indiana state senator sparked an uproar last week with comments at a committee hearing suggesting teachers should not “take a position” on Nazism.

During a Jan. 5 discussion on his proposed “Education Matters” bill, Republican Sen. Scott Baldwin said, “Marxism, fascism, Nazism, I’m not discrediting any of those ‘isms’ out there. I believe that we’ve gone too far when we take a position on those ‘isms.'”

“We need to be impartial,” he added. “We just provide the facts. The kids formulate their own viewpoints.”

The senator — who represents Indiana’s 20th District, covering the Noblesville area, northeast of Indianapolis — was replying to concerns raised by history teacher Matt Bockenfeld, who said, “For example, it’s the second semester of U.S. history, so we’re learning about the rise of fascism and the rise of Nazism right now. And I’m just not neutral on the political ideology of fascism. We condemn it, and we condemn it in full, and I tell my students the purpose, in a democracy, of understanding the traits of fascism is so that we can recognize it and we can combat it.”

“Of course, we’re neutral on political issues of the day,” Bockenfeld added. “We don’t stand up and say who we voted for or anything like that. But we’re not neutral on Nazism. We take a stand in the classroom against it, and it matters that we do.”

Baldwin’s bill, which would ban “divisive concepts” from being taught in schools, emerged from the ongoing public debate in Indiana and across the United States over the idea of “critical race theory.”

The senator later clarified his response to Bockenfeld, telling The Indianapolis Star, “When I was drafting this bill, my intent with regard to ‘political affiliation’ was to cover political parties within the legal American political system. In my comments during committee, I was thinking more about the big picture and trying to say that we should not tell kids what to think about politics.”

“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,” Baldwin noted. “I believe that kids should learn about these horrible events in history so that we don’t experience them again in humanity.”

Category:United States