This past week Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer signed a new racist-as-hell bill aimed at ending ethnic studies classes in Tucson public schools. These elective classes in Mexican-American history and literature, plus African-American literature, are open to all students, although not surprisingly, most of those who take them belong to the ethnic group being studied. The signing of the bill was a particular victory for Tom Horne, Arizona’s superintendent for public instruction (and Boss Hogg look-alike), who has led the campaign against their “destructive ethnic chauvinism.”
Guanabee’s Cindy Casares nails Tom Horne’s illogical bigotry in an awesome obscenity-filled post about Horne’s appearance on Anderson Cooper:
Tom’s delusional argument boils down to this: We shouldn’t teach students “the downer” that they are oppressed. Why is it that this argument is always used by white men? Tom goes on to quote testimony from one student who declared, “Before I took this [ethnic studies] course, I didn’t realize I was oppressed. Now I realize I’m oppressed.” And this would be called self-actualization? Empowerment? Not in Tom Horne’s Arizona! It’s a downer.
Yeah, too much knowledge makes you sad, particularly the knowledge that you’re the victim of discrimination and oppression. What I find particularly impressive is the bullshit way Tom Horne frames the bill as a service to Latinos. Ignorance is bliss! Tom doesn’t want people to know they’re oppressed—because he doesn’t want them to feel bad about it! What a racist paternalist pinche cabrón thoughtful gentleman!
The arguments against ethnic studies don’t really pass the smell test, though:
Judy Burns, president of the governing board of the Tucson schools, said the district’s ethnic studies courses did not violate any of the provisions of the new law and would be continued because they were valuable to the students.
“From everything I’ve seen, they empower kids to take charge of their own destiny, gain a sense of the value of their own existence and become more determined to be well-educated contributing members of society,” Ms. Burns said.
But Tom Horne wouldn’t know that:
Mr. Arce and Ms. Burns said that they had repeatedly invited Mr. Horne to visit the ethnic studies classes, but that he had declined the invitations.
“We wish he’d come see it, so he’d know what we do, and not just go on hearsay,” Ms. Burns said.
Mr. Horne acknowledged that he had never sat in on a class, but said he did not believe that what he would see would be representative of what regularly took place.
Even though he has never so much as set foot in a classroom to observe an ethnic studies class, Tom Horne takes the classic approach: he’s the Pendejo White Man in Charge, and his prejudices are therefore obviously right. All the other people—even those with the first-hand knowledge he lacks—must be wrong.
What “regularly took place” in these classroom?
Sean Arce, director of Tucson’s Mexican-American studies department, said the ethnic studies courses do teach students about the marginalization of different groups in the United States through history.
“They don’t teach resentment or hostility, in any way, shape or form,” Mr. Arce said. “Instead, they build cultural bridges of understanding, and teach the skills students need to understand history.”
Furthermore, Mr. Arce said, the ethnic studies courses have been highly effective in reducing students’ dropout rates and increasing their college matriculation well above the national average for Latino students.
Right. There’s no actual problem here, except the overactive, bigoted imaginations of Tom Horne and his fellow comemierdas concerned citizens.
Of course, what really scares Tom Horne, and others like him, is that the “downer” proof of bigotry and exploitation might make his Latino neighbors not sad, but empowered. They might insist that The Man respect their humanity. They might protest racism, go to college, make money, and become upwardly mobile. And in a couple decades when Latinos are the ethnic majority, Tom Horne and his capullos neighbors might not be able to cash in on his white privilege and Anglo name anymore! That version of the American Dream makes The Man wake up in a cold sweat…in his 5-bedroom house that was built, cleaned and maintained by the very people he despises. ¡Que ironía!