By Jonathan J. Cooper
State schools chief Tom Horne, who has pushed the measure for years, said a Tucson school district program promotes "ethnic chauvinism" and racial resentment toward whites while segregating students by race.
"It's just like the old South, and it's long past time that we prohibited it," Horne said.
The measure prohibits classes that advocate ethnic solidarity, that are designed primarily for students of a particular race or that promote resentment toward a certain ethnic group. It also prohibits classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government.
The Tucson Unified School District program offers specialized courses in African-American, Mexican-American and Native-American studies that focus on history and literature and include information about the influence of a particular ethnic group.
For example, in the Mexican-American Studies program, an American history course explores the role of Hispanics in the Vietnam War, and a literature course emphasizes Latino authors.
Horne said he believes the Mexican-American studies program teaches Latino students that they are oppressed by white people. Public schools should not be encouraging students to resent a particular race, he said.
Brewer's signature on the bill comes less than a month after she signed the nation's toughest crackdown on illegal immigration—a move that ignited international backlash amid charges the measure would encourage racial profiling of Hispanics.
"Resentment," like "reasonable doubt," is in the eye of the beholder. To Arizona's right-wing paper-checkers, resentment of whites probably means criticism of whites.
To me this is arguably worse than the racial profiling law. That creates the potential to harm an individual's human rights. This creates the potential to wipe out whole schools of thought. It's similar to, and as dangerous as, the conservative efforts to rewrite school textbooks.
There's one saving grace. This law should ban future classes on the Tea Party movement. After all, many teabaggers advocate the overthrowing the present US government.
For more on racism in Arizona, see Natives Protest Arizona Immigration Law, Racism Behind Arizona Immigration Law, and Arizona Legalizes Racial Profiling.