Friday, May 14, 2010

Closing the Book on Ethnics

Not content to have stolen the title of America's Most Backward State from Florida, Arizona has now outlawed ethnic studies classes from it public schools. To review, the state just passed a law requiring police to harass anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant, thereby turning every brown person within its borders into a suspected criminal. Now comes this new bill, which bans any curriculum "designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group", that advocates "the overthrow of the United States government", or that promotes "resentment toward a race or class of people". Two of these criteria I can sort of get behind. If you're going to offer an ethnic studies class, you should probably offer it to students of any race. And it's always a bad idea to push armed revolution to angry teenagers (though I'd also argue that civics classes reveal how deliciously easy it would be to orchestrate a presidential coup...). But the last one seems a step too far. It's impossible to learn anything about the history of North, South, or Central America without creating a resentment toward white Europeans whose first inclination upon spotting New World shores was to play Whack-a-Mole with the heads of the native children swimming to meet their ships. Plus, there was the whole smallpox blanket thing. And the gold thievery. But hey, that's all behind us. There's no reason to feel resentment toward today's white people. Unless you happen to be a brown Arizonan who doesn't like showing his ID to every passing cop. More details here.