Sunday, April 20, 2008

It's about American values, Mandrake

-- by Dave

JJust as Californians are considering finally repealing the McCarthy-era "anti-communist" laws that threatened the firing of any teacher suspected of promoting communism, it seems that the Arizona Legislature is considering passing their 21st-century counterpart:

Arizona schools whose courses "denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization" could lose state funding under the terms of legislation approved Wednesday by a House panel. SB1108 also would bar teaching practices that "overtly encourage dissent" from those values, including democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious tolerance. Schools would have to surrender teaching materials to the state superintendent of public instruction, who could withhold state aid from districts that broke the law.

Of course, such subversiveness is an overwhelming problem in today's schools -- far more pressing than dropout rates and declining academic standards. Now if only we could figure out who's doing the subverting ... unless ... that's it! It's that insidious Reconquista! plot!

Sure enough, that's what this bill is in fact all about -- killing Latino studies and MEChA clubs:

Another section of the bill would bar public schools, community colleges and universities from allowing organizations to operate on campus if it is "based in whole or in part on race-based criteria," a provision Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said is aimed at MEChA, the Moviemiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan, a student group. The 9-6 vote by the Appropriations Committee sends the measure to the full House.

MEChA is the nativist right's favorite flogging boy, even though there is no evidence at all that it's actually subversive or racist or whatever it is they seem to think it is. Unless you consider holding school bake sales subversive. Most likely it's the Cinco de Mayo parties.

As Roberto Lovato observes:

By targeting Chicano studies, MECHA and other groups and individuals promoting critical thinking among Latinos, the forces of white fear get two important benefits: they get to motivate their aging, flaccid base with the political Viagra of a new “threat” while also turning critical thinking among Latino youth in a dangerous and expensive endeavor. Better for the young barbarians to be disciplined by institutions and environments free of critical thinking - military and police boot camps and other hero factories, shiny new prisons, Dickensian and de-unionized workplaces and schools that promote “American values”, “capitalism” and “civilization”.

None of this is particularly surprising for Pearce. After all, this is the guy who a couple of years ago opined that illegal immigrants have no free-speech rights, and is pals with neo-Nazi J.T. Ready. He's well on the Arizona GOP's right fringe.

What's astonishing and disturbing, really, is that his compatriots in the Arizona Legislature would actually let this bill proceed. That nativist Kool-aid in the Republicans' drinking water must have a cumulative effect.

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