Posted on Saturday, May 1st, 2010 at 2:32 pm
Author: Feature Writer
Gc contributor: Allison Kilkenny
When the president selected then-Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to serve as head of Department of Homeland Security, Arizonans were assured that nothing horrific would transpire during Napolitano’s ascension.
Yes, Jan Brewer, the politician who eventually replaced Napolitano was a Republican, and had not been elected to the position of governor, but Napolitano’s constituency were assured Brewer was a capable replacement for their departed leader.
However, since the 2009 succession, Brewer has revealed herself to be a radical conservative, who unapologetically infringes on the rights of gays, women, and ethnic minorities.
She signed legislation allowing people to bring guns into bars, and repealed legislation that granted domestic partners of state employees the right to be considered dependents. More recently, she passed one of the most anti-immigrant laws in the country’s history, blatantly unconstitutional, and yet another regressive bill that severely restricts a woman’s access to abortion coverage.
Now, Brewer will have the opportunity to sign yet another strikingly intolerant piece of legislation. She will soon have to decide whether or not she endorses a bill that outlaws ethnic studies programs in public schools.
Like most hate-filled measures, this bill cloaks itself in the language of tolerance. Arizona’s Superintendent for Public Instruction, Tom Horne, says he’s backing the measure because ethnic studies programs encourage “ethnic chauvinism.” This is the same kind of logic that accuses affirmative action supporters of being racist toward white males, those brave, unsung victims of institutionalized racism.
The language of the bill is particularly disturbing. It disallows any curriculum that’s “designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or that seeks to “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.”
Those vague parameters may unleash a Pandora’s box of terrible consequences. For example, it could be argued teaching anything about the civil rights movement falls under the “ethnic solidarity” category.
Students could be denied access to the incredibly powerful history of the Selma to Montgomery marches simply because a small echelon of deeply insecure, frightened leaders fail to see that America’s civil rights history isn’t just empowering for black students. This history is empowering for all persecuted and disenfranchised citizens. Maybe that’s what makes it so dangerous, and the reason powerful agents remain forever anxious to censor American textbooks, mostly recently in Texas where Thomas Jefferson, Cesar Chavez, and the separation of Church and State were all erased, and replaced with exultations of Capitalism, The Heritage Foundation, and the Moral Majority.
What other piece of our collective history will be the next to fall victim to the censor’s black marker?
Would Jewish history fall beneath “ethnic solidarity”? After all, it was Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, who said:
This is the duty of our generation as we enter the twenty-first century — solidarity with the weak, the persecuted, the lonely, the sick, and those in despair. It is expressed by the desire to give a noble and humanizing meaning to a community in which all members will define themselves not by their own identity but by that of others.
Sounds a little Jewy to me. That should be cut out, too. Heaven forbid students, including Jewish-American students, learn about the dangers of persecuting an ethnic and/or religious minority. I can’t think of any reason that may be extremely valuable for students to understand at this moment because of anything happening in the Middle East.
Horne is right about one thing. There is some ethnic chauvinism going on, though the victims are not the ones Horne is probably envisioning. In addition to banishing curricula that may get the dark people all riled up, the Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers with accents must be removed from some classes.
Observing Arizona right now is like looking into America’s future after the next terrorist attack, should reactionary parties prevail and the police state completely take over. The state possesses a radically right-wing agenda that is openly hostile to gays, women, and ethnic minorities. A rogue sheriff has set up a camp tent city for prisoners, leaving them to bake in 110 °F weather. Police are permitted to harass citizens on the suspicion they might be illegal immigrants, even though the governor herself admitted she has no idea what an illegal immigrant looks like.
This newest legalized form of harassment, handcrafted by white supremacists, follows years of voter disenfranchisement when Brewer, who was Secretary of State during the 2004 election, organized a racially motivated purge of voter rolls. She nixed around 100,000 voters, most of them Hispanic, who were ultimately blocked from registering to vote.
But that didn’t go far enough for Brewer. She has unleashed the police on Hispanics, though some cops are already rejecting orders. Arizona Sheriff Clarence Dupnik refuses to enforce the law, calling it “stupid.” And now, Brewer is after Hispanics’ jobs if they dare open their mouths and speak in a funny accent.
Earlier this week, I half-jokingly said Arizona should change its state motto to, “Arizona: Home Of The Grand Canyon And Final Solutions.” The joke doesn’t seem funny anymore.
Brewer is really out of control. It was somewhat comforting to hear President Obama say that he’s prepared to have the DOJ review the immigration law. For the sake of all persecuted minorities, I hope he keeps that promise.
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