… and yes, this is Arizona, USA I’m talking about: the state that recently passed a law mandating its police to check the immigration status of anyone they judge just might be an undocumented immigrant, and that this week passed one prohibiting the teaching of any “ethnic” (read Mexican-American) studies in state classrooms.
Hey, it’s starting to sound just like Israel down there…
The WaPo’s Gene Robinson (an African-American and a strong supporter of civil rights for all Americans) wrote today that the new law was designed as “a weapon against a program in Tucson that teaches Mexican American students about their history and culture.”
He goes on:
- The education bill begins with a bizarre piece of nonsense, making it illegal for public or charter schools to offer courses that “promote the overthrow of the United States government.” Then it shifts from weird to offensive, prohibiting classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” that “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” and that “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” When you try to parse those words, the effect is chilling.
Is it permissible, under the new law, to teach basic history? More than half the students in the Tucson Unified School District are Latino, the great majority of them Mexican American. The land that is now Arizona once belonged to Mexico. Might teaching that fact “promote resentment” among students of Mexican descent? What about a class that taught students how activists fought to end discrimination against Latinos in Arizona and other Western states? Would that illegally encourage students to resent the way their parents and grandparents were treated?
The legislation has an answer: Mexican American students, it seems, should not be taught to be proud of their heritage.
It really does sound just like Israel’s law prohibiting commemoration or study of the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe). Like the Palestinian citizens of Israel, ‘Mexican’-Americans in Arizona and a broad swathe of other southern and western states are the remnants of the populations who were there long before the ‘white’ (Anglo) settler colonists and ranchers moved in.
Here are a couple of interesting aspects of the Arizona situation. First, many institutions and bodies– even city governments– from all around the rest of the U.S. reacted to Arizona’s anti-‘Mexican’ measures by rapidly announcing an economic boycott of the state. As Katrina Vanden Heuvel wrote today,
- This week, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13 to 1 to ban most official city travel to Arizona and to avoid future contracts with Arizonan companies. With its resolution, Los Angeles joins San Francisco and Oakland as major cities that have passed similar anti-Arizona resolutions.
That’s interesting! Responding to policies you don’t like by imposing an economic boycott… H’mm, it could prove catching. BDS against Israel, anyone?
Second interesting thing: Here is Rabbi Marvin Hier, head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, speaking out against the boycott of Arizona.
Yes, that would be the same Simon Wiesenthal Center that’s trying to build a so-called ‘Museum of Tolerance’ atop the gravestones of an ancient Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.
Plenty of other Angelenos take a view different from Hier’s however. AP tells us that,
- Last month, Cardinal Roger Mahony, head of the Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archdiocese, said the law encourages people to turn on each other in Nazi- and Soviet-style repression.
… References to fascism also came up on Wednesday as the Los Angeles City Council voted to boycott Arizona businesses.
Councilman Paul Koretz likened the law — and other Arizona laws such as one that curbs high school ethnic studies programs — to the beginnings of Nazi Germany when Jews were singled out for persecution.
“We can’t let this advance any further,” said Koretz, who said he lost relatives in the Holocaust. “It is absolutely dangerous.”
He’s absolutely right.