Wednesday, May 12, 2010 at 1:40 pm by Darryl
It isn’t just the recent bill that requires people with dark skin or accents to carry “their papers.” It isn’t just the recent order that removed teachers with “heavy accents” from the classroom.
[p]rohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:
- Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
- Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
- Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
- Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.
(Classes that “promote the overthrow” of the government? What the fuck?)
How, exactly, can any history class be taught that runs no risk of invoking “resentment toward a race or class of people.” Wouldn’t that pretty much rule out any history class that discusses human struggle of any type? No lessons about the Holocaust—which might promote resentment toward Germans or Nazis or Fascists or Italians or Japanese? No lessons about the Civil War? No courses on the civil rights movements? Can any course about politics be conducted without concern about promoting resentment toward members of a political party, whether Ross Perot’s Reform Party or the Taliban?
And no courses designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group? Wouldn’t that make any “civics”, Western civilization, or social studies course off limits as promoting American white culture?
And no courses that “advocate” ethnic solidarity?!? How can one prevent student from responding to tales of human oppression and struggle?
But wait…the bill has some exceptions:
Chapter 6, article 10.
e. This section shall not be construed to restrict or prohibit:
- Courses or classes for native american pupils that are required to comply with federal law.
- The grouping of pupils according to academic performance, including capability in the english language, that may result in a disparate impact by ethnicity.
- Courses or classes that include the history of any ethnic group and that are open to all students, unless the course or class violates subsection a. [the four points given above]
- Courses or classes that include the discussion of controversial aspects of history.
f. Nothing in this section shall be construed to restrict or prohibit the instruction of the holocaust, any other instance of genocide, or the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on ethnicity, race, or class.
That point 3 leads to an infinite loop trying to interpret the teaching of history for any human group in any type of conflict. Other than that, this law basically only prohibits two concrete things:
- Teaching courses that promote the overthrow of the United States government…although teaching about the Civil War is something of a gray area (pun intended)
- Restricting courses by ethnic group. Sure…but I’m guessing that this is a straw man argument (and I don’t mean to promote resentment toward straw men with this point)
The rest of this law is so squishy, ambiguous, and lacking in objective specificity that it mostly serves as a potential political weapon— a weapon that might be invoked by, say, some white supremacists that happen to hold political power as a way to punish schools that have the audacity of having courses that discuss ethnic minorities and their struggles—or that have a guest speaker that says something radical. It seems to me that the law would almost certainly be struck down by the courts if used for anything short of punishing school districts for running courses that explicitly train “ethnic insurgents” in methods for overthrowing the U.S. government.
In fact, the law is really just a pot shot at hispanics by the white supremacists running Arizona….people like Jan Brewer and State schools chief Tom Horne. Indeed one can almost see Horne is frothing at the mouth over the idea that students might lean about minority issues:
State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the bill for years, said he believes the Tucson school district’s Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people.
But there is nothing in the law that can prohibit instruction in how Hispanic and Latino groups, African Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups that have been (and, typically, still are) oppressed in America, still are oppressed in America. This clearly falls under the “courses or classes that include the history of any ethnic group…” and “instruction of..the historical oppression of a particular group of people based on ethnicity, race, or class” in the exceptions list.
Then we get some revisionist history from Horne:
“It’s just like the old South, and it’s long past time that we prohibited it.”
Yes…it is just like the old South, where a small number of school teachers taught classes that held a people in slavery and sub-human squalor against the wills of the people and politicians of the states. I mean…that’s not exactly how I learned it, but I was clearly a victim of oppression by the very same school teachers.
Then we get to the crux of the pot-shot:
Horne, a Republican running for attorney general, said the program promotes “ethnic chauvinism” and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race. He’s been trying to restrict it ever since he learned that Hispanic civil rights activist Dolores Huerta told students in 2006 that “Republicans hate Latinos.”
Dolores Huerta was a speaker at a school assembly. She is a renown civil rights activist, not a teacher developing a course curriculum or teaching a course. The statement she made (which was, in fact, that she wanted to start a sign campaign stating that Republicans hate Latinos) is exactly the type of statement that a civil rights activist makes. I wonder if the words of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. are equally offensive to Horne’s ears?
But even if one believes that Huerta statement was wrong—that she shouldn’t have suggested that Republicans hate Latinos in a speech at a public school—does this one statement made by a political activist before a school assembly warrant this new legislative act? I mean, isn’t this just Horne, Brewer, and the haters in the Arizona legislature hitting right back with an opposing statement? But the response is several orders of magnitude stronger—that is, they’ve gone over the top, and made a disproportionate statement triggered, apparently, by the words of an activist.
Okay Jan. Okay Tom. I’ve received your message. Loud and clear: Republicans hate Latinos.
The New White Supremacists have spoken.