The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday has come and gone. Just another day off for many. For others, a time of reflection.

We all know that enemies of MLK Day, in Arizona and elsewhere, did not want King's or African Americans' struggle for civil rights in this county honored.

Former Arizona Governor Evan Mecham stated infamously that King didn't "deserve" a holiday. He was proved wrong.

But it wasn't just Mecham or Arizona that was intransigent. When a federal MLK Day was in the works in the early 1980s, I recall Jesse Helms, a U.S. senator in my home state of North Carolina, publicly opposing a bill to that end — which ultimately was signed by President Ronald Reagan.

Helms used the issue to get himself re-elected in 1984, appealing to the basest emotions of those in a white majority who did not want King, or the civil rights struggle he represented, remembered.

The senator smeared King as a commie. In fact, it was King who represented the best in the American experience, and Helms, a lifelong race baiter, the worst.

Mecham and Helms, each in his way, used history as a weapon. Forgetting about civil rights was what a lot of whites wanted. Same for the horrors of slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, segregation, and the tyranny of white supremacy.

Here in Arizona, just weeks away from the state's centennial, a ruling Republican clique has taken a page from the Helms-Mecham playbook. It would like to wipe away the contributions of Chicanos from the history books, and this cabal is getting its way. For now.

Less than a week before the King holiday, the Tucson Unified School District did this clique's bidding and abolished the popular and successful Mexican American Studies program, under siege since House Bill 2281 was passed into law in 2010.

The statute's express purpose was to eradicate MAS, and the law's pimp daddy, former state Schools Superintendent Tom Horne, used its passage to get himself elected Arizona attorney general.

Current schools Superintendent John Huppenthal attained his position through a promise to end MAS, as well. And he's been keeping his promise. Though in this case, that's nothing for him to be proud of.

The statute bans classes that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment, are designed for a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity.

Overly broad and probably unconstitutional, the law empowers the state superintendent to withhold 10 percent of state funding for any school district that does not comply.

It took about a year of wrangling, but after Administrative Law Judge Lewis Kowal denied an appeal by the district of Huppenthal's June finding of non-compliance, Huppenthal finally was able to pull the trigger and issue a 10 percent penalty retroactive to August 2011.

That is, unless TUSD buckled, accordingly.

And buckle the board did. It had other legal options. It could have challenged Huppenthal in superior court. But the board was hijacked by quislings willing to do Huppenthal's bidding.

MAS students and the community in general showed up en masse to speak out against the move, but the board did not entertain other options.

As has been documented at length in Tucson writer David Abie Morales' Three Sonorans blog, the results have been immediate and chilling.

Literature and history teachers have been instructed to avoid controversial subjects. Their books have been boxed, confiscated, and hauled off to a depository for storage.

Offending texts include everything from works on Chicano history, such as Rethinking Columbus and Occupied America, to acclaimed coming-of-age novels, such as Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima, to even Shakespeare's The Tempest.

The district has denied shelving Shakespeare, but The Tempest — in which the bard addressed the theme of slavery — certainly won't be taught in the context of MAS, which now is verboten. Neither will any of the other texts. But students may have access to some of them via school libraries. In other cases, non-MAS classes may take up the less controversial of the bunch.

Students have told how forbidden books were boxed up in front of them on orders of TUSD administrators. Morales' site features these students' testimonies. Some were emotional as they recounted what occurred.

Chicano literature teacher Yolanda Sotelo explained in one video that she was told that TUSD monitors would visit her classroom to make sure she wasn't venturing into taboo realms.

Sotelo related how she spent a year finding books that her students "really enjoyed," like Matt de la Pena's acclaimed young-adult novel Mexican White Boy.

"But now we can't read Mexican White Boy," she said.

Why? Because it was mentioned in Kowal's obtuse ruling backing Huppenthal.

Essentially, Kowal is a seriously white white boy — so white that, in his ruling, he thought a song by the popular norteño band Los Tigres del Norte, which had been a part of one lesson plan, actually was a poem.

The song, "Somos Mas Americanos" (or "We Are More American"), tells the history of the Southwest through the eyes of migrants.

"America was born free, but men divided it," the lyrics read. "They marked a line so that I [could] jump it, and they call me 'invader.'"

Considering current events in this state, sounds like a perfect song for students to discuss, right?

Alas, for Kowal, whose expertise is in liquor law, the ditty became yet more evidence that the MAS program taught brown kids to hate whitey.

Other such evidence included the Mesoamerican version of the Golden Rule, which teaches, "You are my other self."

Can't have that mentioned in a classroom, now can we?

Because of Huppenthal, Horne, and HB 2281, children in Arizona now have experienced censorship firsthand. Banned books, forbidden topics, and a sanitized, colorless history are de rigueur.

Disgusting. But just as Mecham and Helms were on the losing side of MLK Day, so, too, will Horne, Huppenthal, and their nativist cheerleading squad be on the losing side of the ethnic-studies issue.

First, the underlying constitutionality of the law still is an issue in federal court, in a lawsuit brought by students and teachers against the state.

Though federal Judge A. Wallace Tashima recently denied the teachers' standing in the suit, he agreed that the students' First Amendment rights are at stake, and he denied the state's move to have the case dismissed.

Also, the segregation case that brought MAS into being in the first place recently was reopened before another judge, and a "special master," was appointed.

Perhaps more important, the eradication of the MAS program — which even a $110,000 study commissioned by Huppenthal agreed improved students' academic performance — has invigorated Tucson's young scholars.

Student-led marches and spontaneous walkouts have erupted. And students soon may engage in a massive sick-out to keep themselves from getting "counted" by the district, stats used to justify financial support.

In other words, the students now are looking to impose their own sanctions on TUSD for not standing behind their program.

The irony now comes full circle. The very things HB 2281 was looking to suppress — ethnic solidarity and resentment of a reactionary Anglo hegemony — have been encouraged by cynical men playing racial politics.

MLK himself was fond of saying, "Truth crushed to earth shall rise again."

In Tucson, as elsewhere, its triumph is only a matter of time.

Huppenthal and Horne? Their names now ring with the same infamy as those of Helms and Mecham.

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70 comments
Bobby
Bobby

More bombastic lies from a consumate liar and racist. It's already been determined and in fact, EXPOSED AS TO WHAT WAS BEING TAUGHT.

Bobby
Bobby

You idiot ass. You are attacking American citizens that dedicated their lives to education and fairness, two things that ARE NOT WHAT THE MAS CLASSES WERE ABOUT. God, get a clue.

Bobby
Bobby

"Toe headed",etc. You ass. European-Americans created the laws and conditions, and in fact, this whole United States of America making it possible for that Hidpanic to be a doctor or lawyer here. You need to gain some serious respect for the people that built this nation you are living so well in.

Bobby
Bobby

You devious lying sack of ....... You know damn well that the agenda of those classes was political and anti-European American, like yourself. They were caught teaching subversive and racist bullshit in true classical conditioning fashion, with such phrases as "white" superiority, and a white agenda to keep "hispanics" down, and you know it,you bald faced liar.

Jesus Cristo de Juarez
Jesus Cristo de Juarez

All of us brown skin Mexicans presently occupying "El Norte", need to return to Mexico and take over the country from the pale skin descendants of the colonial masters. Kick out all the white skin occupiers of Mexico, our tue homeleand, with the help of Gustavo Arellano who will renounce his stay in "El Norte". He will be our new presidente in Mexico. Will you join us and Gustavo Arellano?

Deborah
Deborah

I just switched over from the Huff Post to this because I couldn't believe how hateful and racist most of the comments on this subject were on that site. The comments here are just as bad, but then, what can we expect from a state that did everything it could not to have a MLK holiday? It's unbelievable that people can't recognize that American history, and especially Arizona history, is not all about the white guys. Everyone deserves to know about how our diversity contributed to the development of the nation. The ignorance is truly horrifying.

Wakeupnow
Wakeupnow

Yes. American History and English language.

x1134x
x1134x

MAS in a nutshell:

There were once native americans who lived in mexico, just like there was in other parts of north america. They were conquered and essentially enslaved by the Spanish. The Spanish got their ass kicked by texas, and the US, and lost the land that is now Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. After being beat up by the US, the local Spainiards and native central americans revolted and won their independence. Some of the natives ended up living in mexico, others ended up in the US. THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY OF CHANGING WHO OWNS WHAT LAND NOW, SO STOP THINKING ABOUT IT. The end.

x1134x
x1134x

This attitude is what is being outlawed. Teaching falsehoods likek "the ground is the native americans" That is WRONG. The wars are OVER. The land is now owned by whomever holds the deed. The natives are relegated to the reservations. Right or wrong this is how it is NOW. Get used to it. If you teach a group of idiots that they have "rights" to the "dirt" there will just be another episode of the majority proving them wrong, and more than likely having to do it with violence, once the idiots get violent trying to claim their unfounded "rights".

Stephen
Stephen

schools should not teach classes in spanish.kids should not have to listen to that.and budgets are tight public schools do not have the money to waste on such classes. do these kids if they deserve to be here need to learn english ,yes , but let these pro immigrant morons figure out how to set up schools to teach them not public funding. do you people realize how much it cost to send a kid to school each year. things the school used to provide are gone teacher budgets to set rooms up are a thing of the past they need to ask for basics like paper pencils,glue tissues,hand soap,paper towels,construction paper,craft items,note books,snacks,many of these items were at one time provided for whats next 1st grade study books is each childs mother and father going to have buy books too. and you idiots want to waste money on teaching spanish in public schools.

Doris Jean
Doris Jean

everyone should learn spanish and spanish history. i would rather send my child with paper towels, glue, etc. in order to learn spanish and the all important information contained in spanish history. viva la common sense.

Jesus Cristo de Nogales
Jesus Cristo de Nogales

"Ask Gustavo Arellano and a Mexican when he / she plans to end their occupation of El Norte?"

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Don't you wish you had some common sense. And some education. And just a little bit of class? So you are posting under how many names today? Must not have anything else to do. No job? meth lab was shut down?

Jesus Cristo de Guadalajara
Jesus Cristo de Guadalajara

Would someone please explain to me how we will decrease unemployment by granting amnesty to some or most of the 12,000,000 people who are occupying the United States by illegal means?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Would you please explain why you do not have the guts to post under your name?

Doris Jean
Doris Jean

most of us are here illegally. ask the native americans.

malapai
malapai

I suggest you open your eyes and avoid the liberal pablum.

malapai
malapai

You must mean all the identity thieves, illegal border crossers, rapists, child molesters, car thieves and the rest too, eh?

malapai
malapai

Then bitch at Spain whose language you speak.

Jesus Cristo de Nogales
Jesus Cristo de Nogales

All of us brown skin Mexicans presently occupying "El Norte", need to return to Mexico and take over the country from the pale skin descendants of the colonial masters. Kick out all the white skin occupiers of Mexico, our tue homeleand, with the help of Gustavo Arellano who will renounce his stay in "El Norte". He will be our new presidente in Mexico. Will you join us and Gustavo Arellano?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Ignorant. Simplistic. Unoriginal. Devoid of irony. Not at all entertaining. Asinine. Utterly devoid of any meaningful content. But a nice try.

Bobby
Bobby

But it dig bug the shit out of you anyway, didn't it?

Doris Jean
Doris Jean

you can't appreciate culture, no you are the Asinine one.

Bobby
Bobby

You'll have to excuse the Arizona wannabee communist commissar mikefrombisbee. He looks up these foreign words in his old copy of the little black book of communism and it makes him feel like he's superior.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Your idea of culture is Aryan pure - the Herrenvolk kultur. That harebrained idea died in the bunker with the suicide of a very bad artist and even worse general.

Jesus Cristo de Nogales
Jesus Cristo de Nogales

It is true my friend from La Raza. We mexicans must return to Mexico and kick out all the light skinned descendants of the colonial masters. We must take back our country before it is too late. Are you with us you ignorant mikefrombisbee?

Bobby
Bobby

But it just keeps grinding at you doesn't it?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

A bullshit screed from a person with a bullshit name. That's what you pull out of your pimply ass when you have nothing more valid to offer. Not even amusing. Just pathetically transparent.

think about it
think about it

Gee he doesn't like mass murders. You do? So you have no problem with Stalin, hitler, or Mao poster on the wall?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Gee, he has a superficial understanding of history. Gee, he couldn't find a single instance in which the MAS teachers violated the state law, gee, the auditors couldn't find fault with MAS, gee, you didn't really stay on topic, did you?

Think about it.
Think about it.

Really? My neighbor taught school in the south in the 60s. The textbooks refered to the civil war as the war of northern aggression. Are you going to tell me its ok to bring that book into class? I didn't think so.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

And the environment from which that textbook came was such that specific minority groups were demeaned, marginalized. physically intimidated and denied access to the American dream. There are many in this country who still hate and fear those who are different. For many Americans those conditions of inequality still exist. Those are inconvenient facts that Huppenthal and Horne glossed over. They don't want students to read about racism in modern American history because it doesn't agree with Tory mythology. I have no problem with any ideas being discussed in classrooms. Neither do MAS teachers. Where you and some of the others are missing the point is that Hispanics and other people of color were indeed denied full economic, political and social benefits until very recent times in this state. I was a student at a school (Pueblo High School in Tucson) where a teacher, Dr. Henry Oyama (a man of Asian ancestry who grew up in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood) had to sue in order to marry a woman outside his "race." Should we ignore that such things happened? Or that kids on the west side of Tucson had the best auto shops in school (but not the best math and science programs) because that's what Mexicans learned to do? Tom Horne wouldn't have been allowed into certain hotels and restaurants in Arizona because he was a Jew. This was reality. The Civil War being called the war of Northern Aggression in a history book is far cry from telling the truth about conditions in America for people of color.

Please provide one specific instance of a student from a MAS class espousing hatred of Anglos. Please provide one documented instance of a MAS teacher advocating the overthrow of the United States government.

Bobby
Bobby

What idiocy. You would have been the ideal communist commissar. I'm not even going to argue the obvious facts that you have omitted and willfully ignore about the MAS classes. You don't even believe what your writing, but that isn't why you write it, is it shithead?

malapai
malapai

This is apparently your only source for 'news' so it does not surprise me that someone would have to do the search for you.

Bobby
Bobby

Your'e full of shit. The MAS classes were effectively exposed as having an anti-American, in fact, racist poltical agenda towards the anglo population. No amount of your high-minded posing can change that fact.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

When you can't offer an effective response, tap dance...and talk shit. I am waiting for a response. When someone makes an assertion they should be able to back it up. Otherwise it is merely verbal flatulence. Can you back it up or are you just another shit talker?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Hardly. But nice try. Maybe you'll do better with time. Again, do you have specifics? Or do you just want to talk shit?

Please explain?
Please explain?

Why is this so hard to understand? You're not allowed to teach kids hate. It doesn't matter is its teaching Jews to hate Blacks, Chinese to hate Japanese, Navajo to hate Hopi, Sihk to hate Muslim, or even Mexican-american to have Caucasian. Some one tell me why its not racist to teach hate?

Hohohoazhohoho
Hohohoazhohoho

please explain? it appears you have a future as an arizona politician... say anthing without support, facts, or any iota of proof.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

Please tell us which MAS teacher taught students to hate? When and where did that happen? Please be specific. It will be very helpful to Mr. Hupenthal to have that information because at present, he has nothing specific to offer and the attorney for the students is going to be asking him the same question. I'm sure you can be the hero, providing that information.

Bobby
Bobby

He can't provide it moron, because those subversive teachers identities are protected by the school system that fears a lawsuit from morons like you. You could if you cared to, go and see them teaching their subversive Mecha crap right on U-tube posted there by people that care about what's going on in your state, unlike you.

Gerardino0951
Gerardino0951

There should be a day set aside to recognize bigots and red neck folks whereby the entire nation reads who these idiots are, where they live and how their neighbors feel about living near them. The list should be publicized throughout the country with a national e-mail address available so these insensitive, bigoted people could be insulted publically for their lack of humility and inability to care for others. Insults should be straight forward and sting these social dropouts .

Wm. Gerardino

Stephen
Stephen

I would rather live next to a registered sex offender then a family of illegals that come and demand rights they have no right to ask for. that demand food assit medical insur. even though the household income level would deny others but thier money is hidden.

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

I'll bet some of them can spell better than you. And express their thoughts more clearly. And work harder. If you want to read a book that mirrors your pathology, pick up a copy of Mein Kampf. Or borrow it from one of your nativist friends.

Bobby
Bobby

And while he's reading that you could send him your copy of the little communist black book of revolutionary tactics, or he could borrow it from one of your anti-American buddies.

Jesus Cristo de Guadalajara
Jesus Cristo de Guadalajara

News Alert: Since when is the mass exodus of the citizens of one country and to illegally another country considered "undocumented migrants" instead of occupation of the country. When the Hitler invaded Poland, I don't beleive they called the Germans "undocumented migrants". Do you?

mikefrombisbee
mikefrombisbee

You are indeed a foolish goober, as ignorant in the Spanish language as you are lacking in knowledge of history and logic. It's "Jesu christo", not Jesus Christo. Jesus is a common name in the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.

By the way, the Germans invaded Poland with armies, bombed cities from the air and later rounded up Jews, intellectuals and other educated Poles and murdered them. That behavior which you have cited came from YOUR side of the political spectrum. From nativists and other sordid dregs of the far-right sewer pond. It is YOUR actions and words which best model the Nazis, with ypur racial xenophobia, distortion of history, chest-thumping nationalism, demonizing of all Mexicans and threats of violence. I'll bet you are very sorry WWII turned out the way it did...

Bobby
Bobby

The Soviet communists,(your heros), and not the Germans, murdered the educated Poles including twelve thousand of the Polish officer staff, but here you are still lying about what has already been historically corrected and still spouting off the murderous communist line. As for Poland, and the communists, millions of poor, ethnic German farmers were killed and driven off land in Poland that they had lived on for hundreds of years, you clueless moron.

 

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