Smart Talk

Smart Talk is a daily, live, interactive program featuring conversations with newsmakers and experts in a variety of fields and exploring a wide range of issues and ideas, including the economy, politics, health care, education, culture, and the environment.  Smart Talk airs live every week day at 9 a.m. on WITF’s 89.5 and 93.3.

Listen to Smart Talk live online from 9-10 a.m. weekdays and at 7 p.m. (Repeat of 9 a.m. program)

Host: Scott LaMar

RST: Holocaust education curriculum; Local insight into Kenya terrorist attack

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Sep 23, 2013 3:29 PM

What to look for on Radio Smart Talk, Tuesday, September 24, 2013:

Holocaust children 300 x 170.jpg

The Holocaust was the systematic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of approximately six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators.  German authorities also targeted other groups because of their perceived "racial inferiority."  Gypsies, the disabled and some of the Slavic peoples along with other groups the Nazis saw as enemies like Communists, Socialists, Jehovah's Witnesses and homosexuals were victims.  That's from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington -- not from a textbook in Pennsylvania.

But if our guests on Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk have their way, it will be.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Montgomery) will re-introduce legislation this fall to make Holocaust education a mandatory part of the Pennsylvania's curriculum in grades 6 through 12.  His proposal was defeated in the House last summer on a 99-99 vote.

Boyle and Rhonda Fink-Whitman, author of the novel 94 Maidens, based on the experiences of her mother, a Holocaust survivor and  a vocal supporter, will appear on Tuesday's program.


Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Montgomery) and Rhonda Fink-Whitman

Also, another deadly act of terrorism was carried out this weekend in Nairobi, Kenya.  The Somali group al Shabab claimed responsibility for attacking a shopping mall and killing more than 60 people.

Appearing on Radio Smart Talk Tuesday is Dr. James Merryman, a professor of anthropology and sociology at Wilkes University.  In January 1993, he was one of five Somali experts providing information to the Joint Chiefs and the assistant secretary of state to consider in formulating U.S. intervention in Somalia.

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  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-24 08:22

    Donna emails:

    Lower Dauphin not only covers the topic of genocide and social injustice in their 8th grade Honors English course, but they also invite the parents to an evening panel discussion.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-24 08:23

    Ann in Hummelstown emails:

    I think that the reason Gen. Eisenhower visited the liberation of one of the Nazi death camps was that he felt that people in the future would not believe the Holocaust had happened. As a general, he didn't have to be there, but the reporters and filmmakers following him would document the event. So, he tried to avert the "denial" that might come.

    On the other hand, we are always surprised when we ask people (students) a question that they don't know the answer to - we think they "should" know because the topic is something that is important to us. One thing the educational system has never really answered is: What is worth knowing

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-24 08:29

    Colleen in Greencastle emails:

    The history of the Holocaust and the study of genocide at-large is incredibly complicated and nuanced; it's not black-and-white. One of the biggest lessons of the Holocaust is that genocides do not and cannot happen in a vacuum. There are political, social and cultural contexts that must exist before the seeds of genocide can be planted. For example: Anti-semitism existed in Europe long before Hitler codified it in German law. And to understand the indoctrination of thousands of Rwandans to act in murdering their countrymen, one must understand the history and effects of European colonization in Africa. (There are many other examples.)

    How will the curriculum address all of these larger, broader, heavy abstract issues?

    I applaud the passion and efforts today's guests, and I am grateful to my own parents and public school teachers who recognized the importance of this issue to teach it to me from an early age. I support efforts to require genocide education in Pennsylvania public schools as long as it takes a broad, nuanced worldview and not a Western-centric, Western-heroic one.

  • Radio Smart Talk img 2013-09-24 08:31

    Jessica in Harrisburg emails:

    Rhonda's interviews conducted of PA university students. Can she please clarify if these students were controlled for their home state? Obviously, these well known institutions attract students from your reference states if NJ and NY.

  • eric.usner img 2013-09-24 08:33

    Holocaust studies should be part of a larger topic; genocide. It is only one of the many instances of genocide. Samantha Powers, though a controversial figure of late, has written a powerful book (A Problem from Hell), inspired or rather, compelled by her experiences as a journalist in the Balkans during their "Homeland Wars." It looks at the history of genocide in the 20th century. The Holocaust, a horrific example of genocide, is often seen as exceptional, but it is part of a larger history.

  • matthewpfritz img 2013-09-24 08:47

    We are witnessing, in part, one result of high-stakes, standardized testing. Information not on the test, whether it be art, history, music, is diminished or excluded so that teachers have time to teach to the test.

    Matthew Fritz

  • judjones img 2013-09-24 09:10

    With regard to the Smart Talk on Kenya (thank you for presenting this, as well as the Holocaust discussion), it would be interesting to have more information about how arms sales by Russia, the U.S., and other countries are mingled with terrorist activity. We want to eradicate it - of course - but don't want to limit the sale of arms to anyone, as it's an important part of the economy for many countries. We sell weapons abroad, then arms ourselves to fight against criminal gangs using the same weapons. Yeesh.

  • Jim img 2013-09-24 16:22

    There are many instances of sensless killing. Pol Pot, Stalins purges, the Spanish Inquisition, our own treatment of the inhabitants of this continent, the list throughout history is huge. Teaching tolerance and acceptance of others should be the byword. Lets not single out one group when there are many who have been senselessly slaughtered. Otherwise this is just another example of a small group wanting thier personal agenda placed to the forefront. Sadly it has become the American way.

    I do find it a shame that Rep Boyle feels he must back door this. He himself admitted that his fellow representatives had no interest in this initiative. He stated that he would attatch this to some other bill. He knows that on its own merits it would fail.

    Really? You feel that this is more important than many of the other issues confronting the general public on a daily basis? Plenty of work for the people in your district? The elderly all have fine healthcare and good retirement years? Your roads and bridges are the best? Your law enforcement and fire services are well budgeted?

    It is a shame that you cannot stand up and argue this issue on its merits. Instead it will be shamelessly attached to some other bill. Integrity continues to be lacking in our politicians.