Nell Irvin Painter


Letter to the Editor:
A Glaring Omission, The Times (Trenton, New Jersey), Wednesday, May 18, 1994, p. A19

I was surprised to see Gov. Christie Whitman and Speaker of the Assembly Garabed Haytaian support a multiculuralist educational requirement.

Both Whitman and Haytaian are demanding that our schools teach about the Holocaust, something I also think students should know about. But as an American historian, I was stunned by their omission of the genocide and oppression that has occurred in our own country.

Nowhere in the article I read in The Times, April 8, was the genocide of American Indians or lynching of African Americans mentioned, even though the report concludes with concern that the legislation does not adequately address genocide in Russia, Ukraine, Cambodia, and the Balkan states. As though that were all that was missing.

Are the governor and speaker trying to drive the wedge between African Americans and European ethnics deeper by addressing only the genocide that occurs elsewhere?

Surely political savy – if not compassion for New Jerseyans whose people have been the victims of atrocities in their own country – should encourage our political leaders to see more broadly. Otherwise they reinforce the widespread impression that politicians care less for loss of life when the lives in question are those of people of color.

Nell Irvin Painter
Princeton Borough

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