Monday, January 2, 2012

Then They Came for Me

by Pa Rock
Open-Minded American

There was an excellent piece in today's Daily Kos regarding Arizona's never-ending struggle to define itself in terms of being a white, male, conservative culture.  The focus of today's article is on the ethnic studies program that was started several years ago in the Tucson School District.

Not long after the  highly popular ethnic studies program began, the state superintendent of public instruction, Tom Horne, became enraged when several students from the class turned their backs on one of his assistants who was speaking to the student body.  Instead of engaging the students in a dialogue in which he might have run the risk of learning something,  the ever-pompous Mr. Horne went ballistic and moved to kill the program.  Under his urging, the Arizona State Legislature, not exactly a bastion of intellectualism, passed a knee-jerk law to ban "divisive" ethnic studies programs.

HB 2281 has the express purpose of keeping Arizona history nice and white - never mind that the state is over one-third Latino and home to more Native American speakers that any other state in the lower forty-eight.  Those ne'er-do-wells who immigrated into Arizona from other places (like Tom Horne who was born in Canada) want to define the state according to their backgrounds and values - and everybody else can turn white or lump it!

HB 2281 is so egregious in its denial of free speech and basic human rights that even the Roberts' Court might eventually overturn it.  But there will be no judicial remedies in the Scorpion State.  Last Tuesday an Arizona Administrative Law Judge (which sounds suspiciously like a glorified Justice of the Peace) said that Tucson's ethnic studies program violates that monument to blatant racism and political skulduggery known as HB 2281 - and the racially diverse student body in the Tucson schools will have to continue learning history that excludes, marginalizes, or distorts the impact that their ancestors had on the history of Arizona.

Clearly their education is the white man's burden.

The article at included this oft-quoted chestnut from Martin Niemoller to remind us that unless we stand firm in our support of one another, the forces of hate will eventually win out.  Sadly, hate is on the march in Arizona.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.

Then they came for me,
And there was no one left to speak out for me.


Don said...

To understand what sparked the genocide against the various native American tribes scattered across the country, one has only to look at the state of Arizona, its laws, its practices and above all, the people who make it all possible.
It's not that the greed, racism and rapacity that marked our westward expansion was limited to Arizona -- simply that in Arizona is found an almost unbelievable concentration of such soulless behavior.

Xobekim said...

Actually, we both spoke out on May 27, 2010, when I blogged about H.B. 2281.

Before a person can bring a lawsuit they first must exhaust their administrative remedies. The hearing before the administrative judge satisfies this requirement.

H.B. 2281 prohibits classes which: 1) promote the overthrow of the government of the United States, 2) promotes resentment towards a race or class of people, 3) are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or 4) advocates ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

This is a grand bit of demagoguery. Since history is taught from the European tradition it becomes the norm. Latin studies or Black History, would be interpreted as being designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or advocating ethnic solidarity.

Since the Tucson classes are open to all students of all ethnicities the state's claim fails.

I am opposed to this law because it tries to limit academic inquiry. If we know what history looks like from several vantage points, we may be able to start solving the generational repetition of race relations. H.B. 2281, on the other hand seeks to perpetuate ignorance, the intellectual foundation for racism.