Thursday, April 17, 2008

Arizona Legislature Notices Differences Between US and Turkey, Springs Into Action

Academics and artists in Turkey have been having so much fun with their country's laws prohibiting the denigration of Turkey or Turkishness that the Arizona statehouse decided to jump on that hot bandwagon, passing a bill yesterday that eliminates state funding for schools whose courses "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization."
SB 1108 also would bar teaching practices that "overtly encourage dissent" from those values, including democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious toleration. Schools would have to surrender teaching materials for review by the state school superintendent, who could withhold state aid of districts that broke the law.

Mercy. Could there possibly be more to this, some undercurrent that might explain the rush to adopt such convoluted language that simultaneously lauds pluralism and tolerance whilst quashing dissent? Why, yes. Yes there is.

Another section of the bill would bar public schools, community colleges and universities from allowing organizations to operate on campus if they are "based in whole or in part on race-based criteria." Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said that provision is aimed at MEChA — Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztl├ín — a student group he described as racist.

And there it is. Bye-bye, American Indian Studies Graduate Student Council! Later, Armenian Student Association! Never mind that nondiscrimination policy you're required to have in your club constitutions! You just happen to be in the way of us getting rid of the Mexicans!

The stunning thing, really, isn't so much that Pearce crafted this legislation with the sole aim of eliminating a Hispanic-pride student group and TUSD Raza studies coursework he and his Tucson allies find distasteful, as that they're being so amateurishly open and klutzy about it. Even their quote mining sucks.

Tucson resident Laura Leighton read lawmakers sections of some books used in classrooms. She said the sections promote hatred...

Leighton had specific problems with a text titled "Occupied America," a book touted by its publisher as examining Chicano history from the coming of the Spanish in 1519.

She read one line that said "kill the gringos." Another talked about a plan to take back the U.S. Southwest and deport all the Europeans. A closer look at the book, though, showed the line about the gringos was a quote from someone who was referenced. And that plan to take back the area was not urging current action but instead describing one pushed by Mexico in 1915.

Feh. 1915? Details, details! I wonder if Laura Leighton equally opposes teaching the history of the US westward expansion, particularly the bits about the federal policy of exterminating Native Americans, or that whole African slave trade thing, or if "promoting hatred" only counts when it's done by people who are not European-Americans. Of course, that begs the question of whether anyone pushing this dreck has given it a second's critical thought. Another Valley of the Sun Republican weighs in with the answer:

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, said lawmakers are entitled to regulate the use of tax money taken from Arizonans and "demand that our publicly funded education teach and inculcate our youth, our children, with the values that make America what it is, the greatest and most free nation in the world."

So long as you don't try to talk about issues not on the approved Free Thought List, that is. Or run a club based in part on race-based criteria, of course. Keep it classy, Repubs!

1 comment:

Homer said...

I'm reporting you to the thought police.