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Duxbury selectmen to discuss football players’ anti-Semitic comments; activist group calls for swift action

Duxbury High SchoolJohn Tlumacki/Globe Staff

A week after Duxbury school officials fired the longtime high school football coach, a public discussion on the investigation into the team’s use of anti-Semitic language, including the term “Auschwitz” to call plays, is due to be held Monday evening by the Board of Selectmen.

The 7 p.m. meeting will be held remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic; the public may view it online. Residents of the South Shore town can also listen by phone or watch on Duxbury Government Access, according to the meeting notice.

The agenda calls for a discussion of a letter sent to the board from Duxbury For All, a group that promotes tolerance and racial understanding. In the letter, posted on the group’s Facebook page, members call for a swift condemnation of the use of “rabbi,” “dreidel,” and other Jewish-related terms by the football team.

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“We . . . were appalled to hear that our high school football team used blatantly anti-Semitic and other racist language in its play calls in a recent game,” wrote the group, formerly known as Prejudice Free Duxbury.

“A lapse of judgment on the part of immature young men? We think not. The choice of words such as ‘Auschwitz,’ ‘Gas Chamber,’ ‘Hitler’ and ‘Holocaust’ can have one intent only — to hurt and offend. This behavior is symptomatic not only of bias, but the belief that belittling others is somehow acceptable behavior. The trivialization of genocide by coaches and players sets a precedent that has no place in building young men into future leaders.”

The Rev. Catherine Cullen, a member of the group’s steering committee, said Sunday that members are hoping for broad community reflection and response to the issue, which has shocked residents and athletics officials beyond Duxbury.

The Anti-Defamation League of New England has called for an independent investigation into reports the terms were used by the team during a March 12 game. The town has agreed and said it has hired an outside consultant to conduct the investigation.

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“That’s been really disheartening to acknowledge, but it gives us an opportunity to shine a light on something that needs to be addressed swiftly and promptly and communitywide,” said Cullen, pastor of First Parish Church.

Cullen said members of Duxbury For All would like to see more thorough diversity training for town leadership, and that they hope to support board members in any way they can.

In its letter, the group said it would hold the selectmen accountable for a pledge the board made during a February meeting to make Duxbury a more welcoming place to people “regardless of race, religion, class, ethnicity, age, ability, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Cullen, a pastor in Duxbury for 17 years, said she hopes to hear the Board of Selectmen “make a strong statement about the intersection of these events, with respect to the football team, the anti-Semitism, and the [anti-discrimination proclamation] statement the board issued on Feb. 1.”

During the March 12 football game between Duxbury High School and Plymouth North, Plymouth school officials heard Duxbury players using terms related to Judaism — including Auschwitz, a concentration camp in which at least 1.1 million people were killed during World War II.

Within two weeks, Duxbury Public Schools hired an outside investigator to look into the incident and fired longtime head coach Dave Maimaron. Maimaron issued a statement last week, apologizing for use of the offensive language.

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“The use of this language was careless, unnecessary, and most importantly hurtful on its face — inexcusable,” he said.

The school district also canceled Friday’s varsity game against Hingham, along with Saturday’s JV game and Monday’s freshman game.

“We believe this is a necessary step in light of the recent incident involving the use of anti-Semitic language by Duxbury football players,” Superintendent John Antonucci said last week. “It’s becoming clear that this was a systemic failure that needs to be addressed.”








Gal Tziperman Lotan can be reached at gal.lotan@globe.com or at 617-929-2043.