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The history of the world is not always an easy topic of study — memorizing the dates of famous battles, the territorial changes from wars and names of kings in chronological order can be cumbersome.

In one of my college history classes, the professor brilliantly elucidated in less than 10 minutes how the Rashidun Caliphate’s conquest of Jerusalem in A.D. 637 led directly to the Renaissance and Christopher Columbus’ discovery of the New World in A.D. 1492, primarily involving the naval arms race between Venetian and Spanish fleets shuttling pilgrims and crusaders to retake the Holy Land.

Such specialized analysis notwithstanding, we expect our teachers and educational leaders to have a rudimentary understanding of topics they teach, such as the date of Great Depression and the presidents who governed during it. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal is apparently unaware that this information is important to know, and incredibly easy to check.

Franklin D. Roosevelt was the leading candidate in the 1928 campaign for governor of New York, a year before then 1929 stock market crash. Roosevelt served a full four-year term before running for president against then-President Herbert Hoover in 1932.Huppenthal is currently in hot water for anonymously posting to political blogs, posing as another user, and defending himself and his policies.

Over a year ago, I wrote an editorial: “Internet trolls have no sanctuary in our web comments,” addressing a few who attempted to anonymously post comments on our website. One local commenter in particular used three different user names to attack another local figure not realizing his IP address — i.e., the address of his computer on the Internet — was the same. The Arizona Republic used the same easy address check to confirm the comments from the pseudonym Falcon9 were from Huppenthal’s computer and when pressed by journalists, he confirmed he’d posted the comments.

Among Huppenthal’s rants, he called people receiving government assistance “lazy pigs” and compared the founder of Planned Parenthood to Nazi eugenicists.

Arizona is a politically diverse state — socialists, independents, Libertarians, progressives and tea partiers are often neighbors, and vocal political disagreements are part of what it means to live in the Grand Canyon State. Making brash political statements is part of our tumultuous discourse, but we don’t normally expect to see it from a politician in a supposedly nonpartisan position like school superintendent.

Politics notwithstanding, Huppenthal’s posts get simple dates wrong, stating President Franklin D. Roosevelt “was almost completely responsible for the Great Depression” and his economic policies “directly led to the rise of a no-name hack named Adolph [sic] Hitler was going nowhere until Germany’s economy went into the tank.”

The stock market crashed in 1929 when Roosevelt was merely governor of New York and four years before he became president in March 1933, defeating Herbert Hoover. Roosevelt was actually elected because he attacked Hoover’s years of failed economic policies.

Additionally Adolf — not “Adolph” — Hitler narrowly lost a presidential race in January 1932 and was appointed German chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg that summer. He had used the Reichstag Fire of Feb. 27, 1933 — five days before Roosevelt’s inauguration — to start quashing civil liberties and seize total power.

Huppenthal could have asked any high school student in Arizona to fact-check him with their history books. After all, Arizona’s high school seniors can’t graduate if they fail a basic world history test.

Christopher Fox Graham

Managing Editor


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  • Gene McCarthy

    If Huppenthal truly made comments calling reciepents of welfare "lazy pigs" then he should be called on it...however today there are people who have been on the public dole for generations. That is a problem for all of us. You say Huppenthal compared the founder of Planned Parenthood (Margaret Sanger) to Nazi eugenicists....WELL? Margaret Sanger was a eugenicist as were those in the Nazi party. Example of Sanger's thinking: from her book Woman and the New Race she is quoted as saying: "Many, perhaps, will think it idle to go farther in demonstrating the immorality of large families, but since there is still an abundance of proof at hand, it may be offered for the sake of those who find difficulty in adjusting old-fashioned ideas to the facts. The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it. The same factors which create the terrible infant mortality rate, and which swell the death rate of children between the ages of one and five, operate even more extensively to lower the health rate of the surviving members. Moreover, the overcrowded homes of large families reared in poverty further contribute to this condition. Lack of medical attention is still another factor, so that the child who must struggle for health in competition with other members of a closely packed family has still great difficulties to meet after its poor constitution and malnutrition have been accounted for." An outspoken eugenicist, Sanger consistently promoted racist ideals with a contemptuous attitude for the black race.

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