Frank Navarro is a veteran teacher and Holocaust scholar of 40 years at Mountain View High School in Mountain View, California. Last week, he gave a lecture in his world studies class that drew parallels between Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler’s campaign.
According to Navarro, “both had promised to eject foreigners and make their countries ‘great again.’” He also told his students that Hitler’s persecution of Jewish people bears “remarkable parallels” to Trump’s campaign rhetoric about Muslims, Latino immigrants and black Americans.
One angry parent complained that Navarro’s lecture was one-sided and partisan. Navarro told the San Francisco Chronicle, “This parent said that I had said Donald Trump was Hitler, but I would never say that. That’s sloppy historical thinking.”
However, Mountain View High School’s principal, Dave Grissom, and superintendent Jeff Harding disagree — and have officially suspended Navarro with pay until November 16. Grissom claims he has a responsibility to maintain an “emotionally safe environment” for his students during this time, but Navarro refuses to back down.
“I’ve had Mexican kids come and say, ‘Hey, Mr. Navarro, I might be deported.’ Is it better to see bigotry and say nothing? That’s what the principal was telling me (during our conversation). In my silence, I would be substantiating the bigotry.”
This leads back to the question: Can teaching be politically neutral? Do you omit certain facts or correlations in order to keep the peace within power structures — and, if so, at what cost? Navarro stands firmly in his convictions and will not be censored. “I think it makes sense,” says the veteran teacher. “It’s factual, it’s evidence-based.” He continued: “It reminds students that history is real.”