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.

Things continue Saturday, with a breakfast celebration of El Battalion San Patricio, a unit of deserters from the U.S. ranks of Irish descent who fought on Mexico's side during the Mexican-American War. 

Afterward, there will be a Latino Cultural Congress, followed by a Latino literature teach-in. And all of it will be fueled by a "Libros Libres Taco Truck," which will "distribute copies of banned books throughout the city." 

You can check out the schedule for the caravan, along with other info, at librotraficante.com.Tucson Weekly's Mari Herreras recently did an interview with Diaz you can read, here. And as always, there's plenty of info on the struggle to save MAS at saveethnicstudies.org.

The sour white men who think they've achieved something through anti-brown bigotry in this state are destined to be uprooted and cast aside. They are yesterday's men, a throwback to a darker age in American history. Save Ethnic Studies, and Libro-Traficante represent the future. 

Kudos to Diaz for this funny and inspiring idea. The haters can't handle humor. And we sure as hell know they don't like to read.

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