Harrisburg bishop faces backlash for school choice comment - abc27 WHTM

Dauphin County

Harrisburg bishop faces backlash for school choice 'Hitler' comment

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Harrisburg's Catholic bishop is facing heat tonight after comments he made during an interview with abc27 last Friday. The Anti-Defamation League, the ACLU and others are criticizing his word choice in describing a state without school choice.

The topic was school vouchers -- specifically, Catholic schools closing under financial hardship and how vouchers would help. Bishop Joseph McFadden said he worries about state controlled public education and a lack of choice for parents.

He also said this: "In a totalitarian government, they would love our system. This is what Hitler and Mussolini and them tried to establish, a monolith, so all the children would be educated in one set of beliefs and one way of doing things."

The Anti-Defamation League was quick to criticize, calling the bishop's comments careless and trivializing the holocaust. 

In a statement, McFadden apologized to anyone who was offended but said he was using historic figures to explain an educational monopoly. To be clear, in the 20 minute interview he never mentioned the word holocaust.

Mehdi Noorbaksh is a professor at Harrisburg University and vice president of the World Affairs Council and believes the analogy was wrong.

"As soon as you throw in those words and you take the debate and the conversation to another level and another context, it is not right," Noorbasksh said.

Hitler is an historic figure. Can his name ever be uttered without offense being taken? Scott Foulkrod is also a Harrisburg University professor.

"It's quite a leap to leap to the evil that those men did," he said. "You better be careful and careful to how the public is going to react to it."

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