Monday, May 3, 2010

Ethnic Cleansing without the Guns

The Huffington Post recently ran a story about further exclusionary laws in Arizona when Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill that now restricts what schools may teach. According to The Post:

Under the ban, sent to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer by the state legislature Thursday, schools will lose state funding if they offer any courses that "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

There is so much wrong with this ban that I don’t even know where to begin, but let’s take “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government” first.  How do you measure this?  What constitutes promotion?  Would criticizing the U.S. fall under this law?  I have seen many tea baggers advocating the overthrow of the government.  I have heard the Governor of Texas talk about secession.  Somehow, I don't think these were the folks Arizona politicians had in mind when they passed and signed this bill.

Second, take the phrase “promote resentment of a particular race or class of people.”  Does this mean you can’t teach the history of slavery with any honesty?  What about Jim Crow Laws?  If -- God forbid -- an African American student quite logically finds inside him/herself some resentment over the role of white people in the slave trade, could their teacher be accused of “promoting resentment”?

Third, look at the phrase “are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group.”  The assumption here is that courses that highlight Latino, Asian-American or African-American (among others) contributions  to history are designed solely for these racial groups and that this material is not important for white students to learn  Also, hasn't history been taught for years with male, white heterosexuals contrributions in mind?  Writes The Post: “As ThinkProgress notes, the Tucson Unified School District's popular Mexican-American studies department is the target here. The state superintendent charges that the program exhibits "ethnic chauvinism."

Finally, what do they mean by “advocating ethnic solidarity”?  Would they feel the same way about “advocating religious solidarity” within the Evangelical Christian community?

This is really scary stuff, folks.  In its own way, I find it even scarier than the immigration law.  At least that is out in the open and people are protesting and boycotting.  This bill is under the radar screen and more insidious.  This is ethnic cleansing without the guns.


  1. "I have heard the Governor of Texas talk about succession."

    Secession, surely.

  2. Thanks for the correction! That's what I get for writing at 1:00 in the morning. (I really do appreciate that you read the blog so carefully!)

  3. You're very welcome! Sorry for the unintentionally anonymous comment.

    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying about Texas' Governor's desire to secede. Are you opposed to it, or are you just pointing out a hypocrisy without judging either side of it? If the former, tell me more- I don't immediately see why it'd be such a terrible thing to allow a state to secede, and I'm curious.

  4. Hi, Asa-

    I'm pointing out the hypocrisy without judging. It seems to me that much f what this bill prohibits could be applied to the tea baggers, certain governors, etc. etc.

    Thanks again for writing. It's nice to know it was you who wrote!

  5. I swear I already responded here, but it appears that the internet has eaten my comment!

    That makes sense- I figured I'd ask, as I'm curious about what seems to be a pretty consistent knee-jerk reaction against the idea of allowing secession. I can't say I'm sure that it's a good thing to permit, but I certainly don't see why it's inherently bad, and I can't really recall ever seeing it well justified.