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Uncivilized threats to a high school

Posted March. 08, 2017 07:03,   

Updated March. 08, 2017 07:09


American critic Christopher Hitchins (1949-2011) had a motto of not currying favor with the public. In his book “The Missionary Position,” he even took issue with Mother Teresa, a figure who is admired by the world. She is said to have praised former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier during her visit to Haiti in 1981. When a swindler who paid donations was in trial, she pled the court for tolerance but she remained silent at the request of paying the money back to the victims.

Hitchins presented the rationale behind his opposition to the Vatican based on this book when Vatican listened to different opinions over canonizing her as a saint in 2011. It is so-called playing the devil’s advocate. It is a long tradition of the Vatican so that it does not be swayed by the majority opinion. If Hitchins who believed in diversity had been born in Korea, he would have given up writing in the first place.

In Korea, many people often criticize others who have different opinions and threaten them. A case in point is the controversy over Munmyeong High School, the only school designated as a research school for the state-authored history textbook among 5,566 middle and high schools across the country. Though it applied for a research school based on the legitimate procedures, opponents intimidated the school, ruining even the entrance ceremony. Some members of the left-wing teachers’ union came to the school and protested at the principal’s office while a group calling for cancelling the designation as a research school held candlelight protests. The school is now recruiting people for short-term teaching positions because its history teachers refused to teach students using the state-authored textbook. There are also concerns about Munmyeong Middle School, a school that belongs to the same foundation with the high school in controversy, as it applied for the state textbook to use it as supplementary materials.

The state-authored history book is not free from criticism that it is regression in history education. It can be openly criticized. However, the problem is the attitude of ignoring diversity while being obsessed with bigotry that “I am absolutely right and you are wrong.” If you are a teacher, you should think of what British philosopher John Stuart Mill said. "If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person.” It is worrisome that what our children would learn from schools that do not respect democratic processes and other people’s thoughts.