In the tape, Jay Bennish – teaching a 10th grade world geography class at Overland High School in Aurora, Colo. – called the U.S. "probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth" and described capitalism as a system "at odds with human rights."
Bennish told students Jan. 29 he found "eerie similarities" to Bush's statements in his State of the Union speech and things Adolf Hitler said, i.e., "We're the only ones who are right. Everyone else is backwards. And it's our job to conquer the world and make sure they live just like we want them to."
"Now, I'm not saying that Bush and Hitler are exactly the same," Bennish said. "Obviously, they are not. OK. But there are some eerie similarities to the tones that they use. Very, very ethnocentric. We're right. You're all wrong.
Twenty minutes of the class was recorded on an MP3 player by student Sean Allen, who can be heard at several points questioning Bennish's declarations.
Bennish has been with the school's social studies faculty since 2000, according to the Denver Post.
An Overland student told KUSA-TV in Denver Bennish's rant was "the usual thing in our school," the only difference being that a tape recorder was there.
"Three quarters of the teachers are anti-Bush – very much so," she said.
Cherry Creek School District spokeswoman Tustin Amole said officials are probing the incident but have taken no disciplinary action. The teacher was placed on leave "to take some of the pressure off of him" during the investigation, Amole said, according to the Post.
After listening to the tape, Superintendent Monte Moses told the Denver paper "a breach of district policy" occurred.
"Our policy calls for both sides to be present ... in the interest of intellectual discourse," Moses said.
The 16-year-old student told talk host Mike Rosen of KOA in Denver yesterday he had been disturbed by the "political rants" he heard in Bennish's class.
"If he wants to give an opinion in class, I'm perfectly OK with that," he said. "But he has to give both sides of the story."
Allen said he often has used a recorder to help take notes.
During the Jan. 29 class, the student argued that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were responses to unprovoked attacks on American soil.
Bennish replied that to al-Qaida, 9-11 was a response to U.S. involvement in the Holy Land and to missile attacks during the Clinton administration in Afghanistan and Sudan.
In the mind of al-Qaida, the teacher said, the World Trade Center, the White House, the Pentagon and other buildings are "military targets."
At one point, according to the tape, Bennish asked:
Who is probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth?
(Unidentified student responds: We are.)
The United States of America! And we're a democracy.
Who has the most weapons of mass destruction in the world? The United States.
Who's continuing to develop new weapons of mass destruction as we speak? The United States.
So, why does Mr. Bush think that other countries that are democracies won't wanna be like us? Why does he think they'll just wanna be at peace with each other? What makes him think that when the Palestinians get their own state that they won't wanna preemptively invade Israel to eliminate a potential threat to their security just like we supposedly did in Iraq?
Do you see the dangerous precedent that we have set by illegally invading another country and violating their sovereignty in the name of protecting us against a potential future – sorry – attack?
On capitalism, Bennish said:
If you don't understand the economic system of capitalism, you don't understand the world in which we live. OK. Economic system in which all or most of the means of production, etc., are owned privately and operated in a somewhat competitive environment for the purpose of producing profit.
Of course, you can shorten these definitions down. Make sure you get the gist of it. Do you see how when, you know, when you're looking at this definition, where does it say anything about capitalism is an economic system that will provide everyone in the world with the basic needs that they need? Is that a part of this system? Do you see how this economic system is at odds with humanity? At odds with caring and compassion? It's at odds with human rights.
Anytime you have a system that is designed to procure profit, when profit is the bottom motive – money – that means money is going to become more important potentially than what? Safety, human lives, etc.
The school district has placed the teacher on leave and will complete its investigation this week.
Can you believe this guy is a 10th grade geography teacher? What the hell does any of this have to do with geography?
I have included a link to the audio tape that the student taped. It is breathtaking!