Monday, May 19, 2008


>MAY 19, 2008 (Media Release Upon Receipt)
>Apparently, there indeed are two Americas. In one America, recognition
>is given that we live upon Indigenous lands and that we now live in a
>rich multicultural and multiracial society. In the other America, them
>are fighting words.
>Since the founding of this nation, the political lines in this country
>have been drawn [and racially coded] between those who adhere to
>American values versus those who adhere to un-American values -
>between those who are authentically American versus those who are
>deemed to be un or anti-American. This division, Harold Meyerson of
>the Washington Post posits in "McCain's America" (May 14, 2008), is
>what we can look forward to in the fall presidential election.
>True, though when it comes to immigration, no need to wait for the
>fall. Those who favor curbing immigration like to portray it as a war
>over American values and Western Civilization. Some even link it to
>the "war on terror." While some who specialize in scapegoat politics
>do not bother to code their dislike of brown peoples, many others are
>quick to emphasize that they are anti-illegal immigrant, not
>anti-immigrant. And yet many of their proposals - which call for a
>national language, while encouraging massive racial profiling - have
>little to do with illegal immigration.
>For example, Arizona State Rep. Russell Pearce's proposal to amend
>SB1108 would prohibit tax dollars to be spent on public schools that
>"denigrate American values and the teaching of Western Civilization."
>It would also prohibit race-based organizations (without exception) in
>public schools. Clearly, his proposal has nothing to do with "illegal
>immigration" as his primary target is the elimination of Raza Studies
>at Tucson Unified School District - a national leader in K-12
>curriculum development - and MEChA - Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano De
>Aztlan. Neither of these exemplary educational organizations needs
>defending. Rather, it is those that are attempting to legislate
>censorship and thought control that need defending.
>Pearce's amendment states: "A public school in this state shall not
>include within the program of instruction any courses, classes or
>school sponsored activities that promote, assert as truth or feature
>as an exclusive focus any political, religious, ideological or
>cultural beliefs or values that denigrate, disparage or overtly
>encourage dissent from the values of American Democracy and Western
>Civilization, including democracy, capitalism, pluralism and religious
>Because there's no consensus on these topics, or on their definitions,
>it would be impossible to enforce such amendments. For instance, would
>teachers be able to teach that torture and the U.S. "right" to wage
>permanent war against any nation - regardless if there is a moral
>justification - constitute American values? Or would they teach that
>they are aberrations of American values? Would they teach that
>favoring corporate profits at the expense of workers and the
>environment is an American value… or an aberration?
>Truthfully, Americans have faced similar dilemmas since the arrival of
>Europeans to this continent, including this nation's founding. Did
>Indigenous and African peoples have souls and were they fully human?
>Were they entitled to full human rights, including the right to their
>own spiritual beliefs and cultures? Such questions led to land theft,
>genocide and forced conversions and assimilation. It also led to
>slavery, even close to 100 years after the U.S. Declaration of
>Independence. It also led to unjustified and continued U.S. military
>interventions throughout the Americas.
>Not forgotten is that African Americans, American Indians and women
>were deprived of full citizenship and their full humanity - including
>the right to vote - for at least the first 100 years of the republic.
>Asians and Mexicans (who also suffered massive land theft) were also
>subject to exclusion and mass repatriations. All these groups were
>subject to defacto and dejure segregation and discrimination. What is
>the American value: the right of all to be treated fully human - or
>the maintenance of that racial and gender pecking order?
>Taken to its logical conclusion, under Pearce's proposal - teachers
>and students wouldn't be permitted to study these topics and ask these
>questions. This points to what is wrong with education in America:
>politicians, not educators, are now in control of the classroom.
>The history of this nation has been well-served by a dynamic struggle
>over what constitutes "American" and human values (the two have not
>always been synonymous). Without that struggle, slavery, legalized
>segregation, discrimination and dehumanization would still be in
>effect today.
>Fortunately, the march of history [and human rights] is always
>forward. Apparently, not in Pearce's America.
>(c) Column of the Americas 2008
>Rodriguez can be reached at or Column of the
>Americas PO BOX 85476 - Tucson, AZ 85754. Columns are archived at:

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