Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
You know how Internet surfing goes. You click here, click there and all of a sudden, you’re not in Kansas anymore. Well, that happened to me today.
I followed a few links and stumbled upon two blog posts related to John Munger’s interpretation of what is being taught in Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) Programs. (In case you don’t know who Munger is, he’s a bigwig lawyer, former Republican candidate for governor in 2010, and former head of the Arizona GOP.)
Basically, Munger requested copies of MAS text books and wrote a critique of the curriculum based upon the text books. In his original blog post from January 2011 and in the abbreviated recent post on The Cholla Jumps blog, Munger makes a strong case that MAS courses are teaching communism. Earlier this week, I ran across this video claiming the same thing: MAS courses are teaching communism. (The Three Sonorans also stumbled upon this video and linked it here.) Now, I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but without even trying, I stumbled upon 3 conservative blog posts pushing the same communist indoctrination story.
Here is an excerpt from Munger’s analysis…
What they [MAS text books] did provide was a showpiece of classical Marxist oriented indoctrination of cultural and political oppression, incessant deprecation of anything not “Chicano,” including the US Constitution, capitalism, and European culture. Students are taught that they are part of an oppressed minority of “indigenous” people (how those who are principally Mexican in background are “indigenous to the Southwestern US is not explained), whose lands (California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas) have been stolen by the Europeans and should be taken back as a separate “Chicano” nation they call “Atzlan.”
They want political separation from the US based almost entirely on race and based on a Marxist economic model. Students are taught (sometimes subtly and sometimes expressly) that their “indigenous” culture has been corrupted by the predominant European culture of the US, that “Chicanos” should refuse to assimilate and instead should come together in “colonies” to exercise maximum political power until they are able to retake “Atzlan” as a separate nation— an explicitly “bronze” nation, incidentally, based almost entirely on racial profiling.
In the meantime they should recognize that capitalism is corrupt and they should work towards complete redistribution of wealth; that everyone is entitled to a home, healthcare, reasonably equal income, etc. Presumably Atzlan would be a place where Communism would finally, and happily, flourish.
Having read the books the students must read, as well as the Principles and philosophies of MEChA, I found many interesting quotes and facts.
First, there is NO book presenting American History generally, nor even the standard view of Southwestern American History—ALL the books speak solely from the point of view of the oppressed “Chicano,” with no effort to teach alternative thought or facts.
Second, the concepts and language in the materials is, frankly, classic Marxist indoctrination based on oppression and inculcation of hatred of anyone European or who might identify themselves as an American…
The results of this indoctrination are astounding. I have a photograph of one student of this program carrying a sign and protesting recently. The sign held by this student shouts in bold letters: “Dumb F*** Gringos. You Are Standing in Mexico Right Now!” Anyone who does not believe that racism, hatred, apartheid, and Marxism are being actively promulgated in these programs should think again. Every Arizonan should take the time to evaluate exactly what is being taught our children, with taxpayer money, in these Ethnic Studies programs and MecHa. [Emphasis added.]
This communism charge is significant because Arizona has laws on the books specifically prohibiting teaching communism— Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) 16-805. Arizona law has a lot to say about keeping us safe from communist indoctrination, but 16-805D is the real kicker. Basically, Arizona recognizes academic freedom– except when it comes to teaching communism.
D. It is the public policy of this state to protect the safety of the constitutional government of the state of Arizona by constitutional means and at the same time protect the rights of the members of our free society to speak, to assemble and to inquire, including the principle of academic freedom which by fostering healthy self-criticism is especially vital in the progress of man’s moral values and in man’s exploration of the secrets of the atom on this planet and in outer space. To protect the safety of this state and the right of free citizens in a free society to inquire and to understand totalitarianism, it is essential that the schools, colleges and universities teach objectively and critically the governmental and social forms of past and present totalitarian slave states, including the foreign languages spoken therein. The rights set forth in this subsection do not include the right to embrace Communism or to attempt to persuade others to embrace Communism. [Emphasis added.]
What makes all of this so dangerous for MAS is that to bring down the program the enemies don’t need HB2281 (the racist bill specifically targeting MAS and signed into law in 2010). You’ll remember that HB2281 is being challenged in court by a group of MAS teachers from TUSD. The teachers could win the battle– their discrimination suit– but lose the war if the right wingers make these communist indoctrination charges stick– either legally or in the public psyche.
These are the true enemies of MAS– not people who want to make some courses into electives. All of the wrangling about School Board President Mark Stegeman’s proposal to reorganize MAS could be irrelevant in the coming months.
Here are the three links if you want to read the full text of the stories or the law.
TUSD Mexican-American Studies curriculum examined by John Munger is a new post on the Cholla Jumps blog. (You remember him. He used to be on the Citizen.)
TUSD Ethnic Studies: A Report of My Review of Textbooks and Program is the original post by Munger.
16-805. Findings of fact and statement of public policy by the legislature of the state of Arizona concerning steps which must be taken to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens of this state and the safety of this state from international Communistic conspiracy is the link to the Arizona Revised Statute.