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Colleges Should Stay Miles Away From Bigotry

Anti-Semitism flap reflects poorly on Orange County trustees

August 22, 1997

What could South Orange County Community College District trustees possibly have been thinking? They voted to allow a seminar that injects anti-Semitic overtones into conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Even Thursday's announcement that the course will not be held on campus was unsatisfactory. The fact that the chairman of the college board, Steven J. Frogue, still plans to hold it at all is appalling.

Frogue is a high school teacher in Tustin. Students and parents have objected to some of his classroom statements over the years and should continue to keep an eye on him. At community college board meetings, audience members and some fellow trustees have objected to his rants against the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights group. Although he now denies saying it, Frogue said in an interview last year that he believed that Lee Harvey Oswald, Kennedy's assassin, "worked for the ADL," which he contended was behind the killing.

Frogue's opinions are his own business, though they are far outside the large body of reasonable inquiry into the JFK killing. But one wonders why the voters put him on the board and especially why his fellow trustees, who presumably knew something about him, picked him as chairman. No educator should be spewing such vile nonsense.

Frogue organized the seminar and has invited one speaker who contends that the Israeli intelligence agency masterminded the killing. That speaker has denied well-established facts about the Holocaust, according to historians of the Nazis' murder of 6 million Jews. Another of the four announced speakers, Sherman Skolnick, is said by the ADL to be a member of the advisory board of an organization that publishes what the civil rights group considers "the most anti-Semitic publication in America." Skolnick said Thursday he will not take part in Frogue's seminar.

The seminar was thrown off campus only after the district received more than 200 calls of protest Thursday. The callers had more wisdom than the trustees. There is a difference between airing seemingly crackpot ideas in an intellectual, substantive manner on a campus devoted to academic freedom and giving legitimacy to bigoted ravings with no balance from opposing speakers. Voters should remember Frogue's opinions at election time.

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