Debe Terhar, the president of the State Board of Education, has called into question her judgment as a public official. She has made herself an embarrassment to the board and should have the decency to step down.
On Tuesday, the Columbus Dispatch reported a posting on Terhar’s Facebook page in reference to new gun laws proposed by President Obama in response to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn. The posting featured a picture of Adolf Hitler with a quote attributed to the Nazi leader.
The caption on the photo she shared said: “Never forget what this tyrant said: ‘To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens’ ” The Facebook page now is gone. As offensive are Terhar’s feeble excuses for the incendiary linkage of Hitler to the president. As the Cincinnati Republican explains it, she was not comparing one to the other; she “simply shared” a photo posted by someone else.
All evidence to the contrary, extreme right-wing groups have ginned up hysteria about a government out to “take our guns.” It is dismaying that the head of the Ohio school board appears to have aligned herself with the irrational wing of the gun lobby at a time clear thinking on school-safety policies is a priority. Further, given the abusive, overblown rhetoric of recent years, it is hard to believe Terhar was unaware of the excited comparison she was invoking with her Hitler posting. And if she failed to understand, it does nothing to recommend her to guide educational policy.
Without much merit, either, is Terhar’s claim that her purpose was to have history inform the gun-control debate. The concern for history and context should have kept her from being so cavalier in deploying Hitler to serve her ends. First, it cheapens the horror of the Holocaust for the millions who suffered under the Nazis and understand what tyranny is. It equates an emotionally charged — but still democratic — process to solve a real problem with murderous violence. And besides, the statement credited to Hitler is bogus, with no credible source. Terhar, we would think, would want students to check the accuracy of material they find on the Internet before they passed it on.
Gov. John Kasich insists, rightly, that teachers and schools be held accountable. He should be as concerned that the school board president’s lack of judgment on a national issue not make Ohio a laughingstock.