By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
That is about our bodies. And I repeat, the target is Indigenous.
In past years, they’ve gone after our tongues. In Arizona, in the year 2000, it was proposition 203--a measure that virtually gutted bilingual education, on the belief that it is better to be monolingual, than to be bilingual. To this day, the question remains: what does language have to do with legalities and illegalities?
The latest salvo is HB 2281; this one is about our souls.
This new law is an attempt by Superintendent Tom Horne to eliminate Ethnic Studies. Specifically, Horne has targeted Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies program, arguing that what is taught there, is outside of Western Civilization and should not be taught in Arizona schools.
This law has nothing to do with “illegal immigration.” If anything, it closely resembles the practices of the early European friars who deemed Indigenous knowledge to be Godless and attempted to both destroy it and demonize it. The burning of the books of our ancestors--Indigenous peoples of this continent--resides deep in our psyche. The philosophical foundation for Mexican American Studies in general is Maya-Nahuatl knowledge--derived from thousands of years of maize culture. Anthropologists refer to it as Mesoamerican knowledge. One part of it is: In Lak Ech--Tu eres mi otro yo--you are my other self (me). It is an ethic that teaches us that we are all part of each other and connected to each other. It is a human rights ethos connected to social justice and love of humanity and of all things living and non-living.
We also know Arizonans don't care about the "rule of law." If they did, they could impose stiff penalties for harmful derivative sales, power-plant pollution, and Indian artifact theft. They could demand inquiries into the "friendly fire" that killed Arizona resident Pat Tillman. But they don't do any of these things because they'd harm rich white people, not poor brown people.
We're all related
The indigenous philosophy of "we're all related" contrasts with the Euro-American philosophy of rugged individualism, survival of the fittest, "looking out for no. 1," "the winner takes it all," "nice guys finish last," etc. Stamping out the indigenous viewpoint meant stamping out Indians and Latinos. We couldn't let these people question America's God-given right to dominate the continent and world, could we?
It all goes back to the Euro-Americans' desire to maintain their white privilege. When you come from two millennia of divine rulers and absolute monarchs, you don't think about giving up power to the hired help. You're the captains of industry and they're the slaves, peons, and laborers.
For more on the subject, see Send Minorities "Back Where They Came From"? and Conservative Worldview = Fear of Cooties.