Feathered Bastard

Ethnic Studies Revolt: Banned Book Caravan To Barnstorm Tucson

Tony Diaz, dropping some knowledge with the Libro-Traficante caravan

Arizona's ethnic studies ban has resulted in the eradication of the successful and popular Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, and a backward edict banning certain supposedly "dangerous" books by Latino authors from Tucson classrooms.

This peculiar mix of ethnic McCarthyism and Fahrenheit 451-style censorship is the product of the Republican Party in this state, which has, sadly, eschewed the traditions of Abraham Lincoln and Dwight D. Eisenhower, and become the party of white pride and hatred of the brown.

I suspect that after the 2012 election, Sand Land GOPers will be singing a different tune, knocked from their high horse of a legislative supermajority to something a little more reasonable. Moreover, recent polls have suggested that President Obama has a dead even chance of flipping the state and turning it blue, with the assistance of an energized Latino voting bloc.

And what are they energized by? By bigoted laws like Senate Bill 1070 and House Bill 2281 (the ethnic studies ban) for starters. The de facto party of Anglos -- i.e., the Arizona GOP -- has been waging a war of hateful rhetoric on Hispanics, with nefarious statutes intended to drive out the undocumented en masse and keep the remaining Latinos beneath the boot heel.

Not all Cactus Country Republicans are racists, but far too many have copped a racist line for political gain. And come November, they will pay. Till then, Houston novelist Tony Diaz has a plan: a caravan of verboten books and their authors, starting out March 12 in Houston and ending up in Tucson on Friday, March 16.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons