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School to Rebut Racist Flyers With Survivors of Holocaust

January 18, 1985|JAMES QUINN | Times Staff Writer

Survivors of the Holocaust will speak at Parkman Junior High School in Woodland Hills next month to counter white supremacist literature that was distributed recently to students, school officials said Thursday.

The literature, which drew an angry reaction from students, teachers and parents, charges that the Holocaust, in which millions of Jews were put to death by Germany's Nazi government during World War II, is a hoax "used for political and financial gain by Israel and her supporters."

The leaflets, written by the San Diego County-based White Student Union, which has ties to Ku Klux Klan leaders, also attacked affirmative-action programs for minorities and asserted that politicians "bow and scrape to minority political-pressure groups, but never address . . . the problems of White U.S. Workers."

The flyers were left in student lockers over the weekend at Parkman, Nobel Junior High in Northridge and 12 San Diego schools. Similar literature previously was distributed to students at schools in Palm Springs and Oroville, said a spokesman for the Anti-Defamation League of the B'nai B'rith.

Although the administration at Parkman is mounting a counterattack against the literature, Nobel officials have downplayed the situation.

'Mistake to Give Publicity' "We decided it was a mistake to make a big deal out of this and give publicity to this group," said David Fogerson, administrative dean at the 1,800-student school.

Fogerson said he had no idea how many students had received the flyers, which were placed in lockers and scattered about campus, and was unaware of any organized effort by teachers to rebut information in the flyers.

By contrast, teachers at 940-student Parkman Junior High met Tuesday to exchange information about hate groups and the Holocaust and decided to discuss the subject with students in their homerooms.

"If there is anything good to come out of this," said Parkman Principal Andrew Anderson, "it is the opportunity to teach students the need for tolerance in our multi-ethnic, multiracial society without seeming to force the subject on them."

Anderson also addressed students through the public address system, telling them the flyers were from hate groups and disassociating the school from them.

Both Parkman and Nobel are situated in upper-income, predominantly white neighborhoods. Each has about 300 black and Latino students voluntarily bused in from Los Angeles.

Students Indignant Students uniformly expressed indignation at the literature, although several acknowledged they made little sense of the flyers before teachers explained their background.

"I was confused about what it meant and where it came from," said 14-year-old Melissa Montoya, a Parkman eighth-grader.

After her homeroom discussion, she said, she was "shocked" by the material and "threw it away."

Tony McRuffin, a 13-year-old black student who is bused to Parkman from South-Central Los Angeles, said it was "a real put-down to leave these around on King's birthday." The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday was celebrated by Los Angeles schools on Monday.

Sunny Bosco of Woodland Hills, 13, said of the flyer after classroom discussion that she "learned it was trash and ripped it up."

Parkman Assistant Principal Marth Feutz said the bulk of students are "pretty unsophisticated about hate groups and don't really understand what happened here."

Bernard Leibovitch, assistant regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, visited Parkman Thursday to distribute literature on the Holocaust and arrange the presentation by survivors, which is scheduled for Feb. 5.

He said Parkman officials "handled the situation beautifully" and said he "can't fault Nobel officials for apparently deciding not to give any more publicity to a hate group."

Virginia Kotas, whose daughter, Athena, attends Parkman, was one of dozens of parents who complained to the Anti-Defamation League and to school officials about the flyers.

She expressed satisfaction with Parkman's response, saying, "You've got to present the true facts, once big lies like this are allowed out. I don't think you ignore something like this and assume it will go away."

Gregory Withrow, 23, national director of the White Student Union, said earlier this week that the group decided to distribute flyers after schools and libraries refused to teach their version of the Holocaust.

The group uses the same Fallbrook post office box number as Tom Metzger, former state leader of the Ku Klux Klan, who now heads another white supremacist organization.

Although he has no official connection with the White Student Union, Metzger has said, "I encourage and support the group 100%." Metzger ran an unsuccessful race for Congress in 1980.

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