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Jay Bennish, “change agent”

Posted by Richard on March 8, 2006

Overland High’s Ward Churchill wannabe, geography teacher Jay Bennish, shaved his long hair and began preening in front of the cameras yesterday, including an appearance on the Today Show and several interviews with Denver reporters. Bennish has been in the spotlight since one of his students, Sean Allen, made public a 22-minute recording of an anti-Bush, anti-American, and anti-capitalist rant and said that it was common for Bennish to do this. Bennish said he’s been misrepresented, implicitly denying Allen’s claim that such rants occurred frequently:

Bennish told reporters Tuesday that the tape is a mere 20 minutes "out of one semester of material" and that he doesn’t necessarily believe everything he says in class.

"I think all of this has been taken out of context," he said when he arrived in Denver from New York. 

You know, when you’re comparing the President of the United States to Adolf Hitler, context is so important. Without all the context, people might think you’re a raving looney or a barking moonbat when in fact you’re making carefully considered, thoughtful, nuanced comparisons to Hitler.

And gosh, I’m sure that during the 28 minutes which Allen didn’t record, Bennish compared Bush to Mahatma Gandhi. Yeah, right.

Actually, Bennish was slightly misrepresented. The media reported that he noted "eerie similarities" between Bush’s remarks and Hitler’s speeches. But, from Michelle Malkin’s transcription, here’s what he actually said regarding Bush and Hitler:

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.

So you see, Bennish didn’t compare Bush’s remarks to Hitler’s; he compared his own totally false mischaracterization of Bush’s remarks to Hitler’s. Bennish flat-out lied about what Bush said, knowing that the vast majority of his class didn’t see the State of the Union speech, the remainder wouldn’t recall details, and just about the entire class would simply take his word for it.

After lying about what Bush said, lying about what capitalism is, lying about U.S. actions in the Middle East, lying about Cuba, and lying about the history of the Jews and the creation of Israel, Bennish offered the standard leftist teacher disclaimer — something like "My outrage at Bush’s eating of babies is just an opinion, something I throw out to make you think. I may not even believe it myself." Wink, wink.

The Rocky Mountain News obtained Bennish’s Cherry Creek School District job application (PDF). Here are a couple of excerpts that suggest he doesn’t just want students to think, he wants them to think in specific ways toward specific goals:

My primary objectives as a teacher are to encourage the students to think for themselves, to critically analyze the world in which they live in order to create a more democratic society.

I feel it is paramount to give back to our community, in an effort to better society, the world, & to make a more free & democratic environment.

Keep in mind that Bennish apparently thinks Cuba, Venezuela, and the the Palestinian Authority are more "free & democratic" than the U.S.

The News’ Charlie Brennan interviewed a couple of Bennish’s college professors, Peggy Raines and Judith Giesburg. (Either Bennish misspelled the latter’s name on his job application or the News repeatedly did so. I’m going with the News. Bennish had other misspellings, too.) Both spoke highly of Bennish. Raines seemed quite proud of Bennish and the others who learned all the right lessons in her program:

"I fear he may have got some of that left-wing orientation from me," she said with a laugh. "You know how professors are."

"I think Jay was one of our top candidates," Raines said. "We were very clear that Jay would go out and do something, and probably be a shaker and a mover.

"My guess was that he would probably be a political activist."

Speaking of many students who passed through her department at NAU, Raines said, "They care about social justice issues. They care about making the world a better place. So, I’m not exactly surprised that this is happening to Jay."

"I just think it’s a shame that the conservative right-wingers can try to dictate curriculum," Raines said. "I think it’s a shame that he could be suspended for trying to do what he does well, up there.

"My greatest hope is that it doesn’t end a promising young career."

Raines said one legacy of Bennish’s NAU experience is that he and his fellow students were taught to be "change agents" and to "push the envelope" a bit.

When told of Bennish’s mentioning President Bush and Adolf Hitler to his students in the same breath, she conceded it might not have been the most "prudent comparison."

"I think teachers need to know what they stand for, and I think he knows what he stands for," Raines said. "And yes, I think we have an obligation not to press our own agendas in classrooms.

"But, let’s face it. You can’t hang up who you are at the door."

There are thousands of education professors like Dr. Raines on our college campuses, and they’ve been doing their best to crank out tens of thousands of "change agent" teachers like Jay Bennish. Does that bother you? It does me, and I don’t even have kids.

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3 Responses to “Jay Bennish, “change agent””

  1. VRB said

    I think that you are paranoid. As a parent, I feel that parents have more influence than a high school teacher. Why else would one student disagree and record Bennish’s comments. It is also possible for teenagers to form their own opinions, probably with parents that nurtured critical thinking.

  2. Dick Timberlake said

    Ari Armstrong pointed me to your blog.

    Actually, I think Bush is somewhat like Hitler – but what president in recent history hasn’t been? They are all after more power and more police-statism, and a bunch of nanny-statism to boot.

    But Bennish, whose salary I help to pay with my exceedingly high taxes, really gets my goat when he disses the only economic system based on freedom – capitalism. For my money – and it is my money – that is why he should be fired.

  3. Anonymous said

    VRB: You’re right about teens and about parents, but that doesn’t make this little twit any less contemptible or his efforts to influence or persuade or brainwash his students at taxpayer expense any less outrageous.

    Dick: Thanks for dropping by, but your first paragraph exemplifies what’s wrong with far too many libertarians.

    George W. Bush is “somewhat like” Adolf Hitler in the same sense that a shoplifter at Target is “somewhat like” Genghis Khan because both took things that didn’t belong to them.

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