Az. Gov. Bans Ethnic Studies Over ‘Smash the Gringo’ Fears
May 13, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-The divisive racial politics in Arizona are reaching a crescendo of fear, hate and xenophobia. Just days after signing a draconian anti-immigration bill into law that permits racial profiling, Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill banning ethnic studies classes in the state’s public schools. The bill outlaws any optional program that teaches the culture and heritage of ethnic groups, including Asian, African-American and Hispanic classes.
This overreaching law stems from the worst sort of nativist identity politics. Doug Nick, the federal liaison for the Arizona Dept. of Education appeared on MSNBC’s Chris Matthews’ show Hardball in support of the law, spewing racial fearmongering, saying Hispanic classes “radicalized” students and promoted violent action to “smash the gringo.”
The law bans classes that “promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group and advocate ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals.”
On the same day Gov. Brewer signed the bill into law, a report released by United Nations human rights experts condemned both the anti-immigration law and the ethnic studies ban. The report, said the censorship of ethnic classes is “at odds with the State’s responsibility to respect the right of everyone to have access to his or her own cultural and linguistic heritage and to participate in cultural life.”
The law was drafted by Nick’s boss Tom Horne, the state superintendent of public instruction. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that Horne is running for the Republican nomination for state attorney general. His opponent is an ally of controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And a law banning ethnic studies is just the ticket for Horne to establish his nativist bona fides.
As reported by Talking Points Memo, Horne is heavily promoting the new law on his campaign website:
“Horne’s campaign website currently includes headlines like “Tom Horne Championed Bill to Ban Ethnic Studies” and “Alarming Video Shows a L.A. Teacher Calling for Mexican Revolt in the U.S.” above a picture of Hispanic protesters of the law dressed in quasi-paramilitary garb and bearing pictures of Cesar Chavez.”
Although the ban on ethnic studies applies to all public schools, Horne wrote the bill to particularly target the ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District. He claims the classes are segregated by race and promote “resentment” against whites.
Sean Arce, director of the Mexican-American studies department in the Tucson district, says Horne’s claims that ethnic classes are segregated is false. And classes do not radicalize students against whites. “In no way do we teach the resentment of any particular group of people,” he said.
During his appearance with Chris Matthews, Doug Nick did nothing to dissuade opponents of the law, believing it to be just another harsh nativist measure to single out Latinos. He used over-the-top rhetoric, claiming ethnic studies cause the “indoctrination” and “radicalization” of students, forcing them to believe they are oppressed by whites.
And he made the ludicrous claim that learning about the Latino culture, promoted students to “rise up and smash the gringo.”