Tucson Progressive

Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona

Who is the real enemy of Mexican American Studies? (Hint: It ain’t me, babe.)

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.

17 comments on “Who is the real enemy of Mexican American Studies? (Hint: It ain’t me, babe.)

  1. leftfield
    May 6, 2011

    He must not have read the text books too closely, if at all.  If he had, I would hope that he would have at least learned how to spell “Aztlan” correctly.   And while he is obviously opposed to communism, he apparently has no similar problems with fascism.  He does seem to have all the qualifications to be Governor of this fine state.


  2. jhappel
    May 6, 2011

    You really have to be an anti-intellectual to continue hanging on the the Red Scare in 2011. Come on Pam, you must be smarter than this. Learning about communism and marxism and its role in the history of the Chicano movement is NOT the same thing as being persuaded to join the Soviet Union. You make yourself look silly by reposting Munger’s ridiculous rant, which he most likely posted from his back yard bomb shelter.


  3. Dr. Don Burk
    May 6, 2011

    Forced curiculum is inappropriate, regardless of who is doing the forcing.
    It would appear via the young riot during the school board meetings, that
    many do not repect a democratic process, and wish to force decisions of
    public policy upon the taxpayers.  If the studies involved were truely “ethnic”
    there might be little question, but if they are within the ‘required’ set of
    studies and concern only one group of people, it might be called propaganda.


  4. coyote
    May 6, 2011

    As I said many times, if you want to learn about Mexican Ethnics, read the paper today about the march to stop going after the Cartels. But on the other hand a closer look would be to move South of the border and ger a virst hand education that way you would not have to put up with TUSD and the American way that is supposed to be Majority not a few radical kids lead on by their TEACHER AND PARENTS.
    One other thing Take your garbage with you over the Border.


  5. Ernie McCray
    May 6, 2011

    Everyone who dares to do anything regarding these courses, including Stegeman, is part of the problem. We have to remember that the courses were going well, turning students on to learning and being active forward thinking Americans. Stegeman could remove his name from the “suspect” list by refusing to give into hate and racism. Stand up for what’s right: protecting the children – even if it means the courses are lost or funds are withheld. Compromising has its place but this isn’t a compromising kind of situation. These are the richest of “teachable moments.” We all get to learn about ourselves in all this. Where we stand. Why. How we want to be remembered when this becomes history. AMERICAN HISTORY.


  6. EMPHecklers
    May 6, 2011

    NO matter how you want to spin it, we’re talking about a bunch of kids who could care less about their own heritage. All they’re doing, just like every other student out there, is trying to find a way to rebel against the ‘system.’ 

    This is a NON ISSUE people! It’s not like we’re even talking about getting rid of the class!!! It’s only about if it will be an elective or not!

    You Illegals and your spawn keep trying to make big deals out of NOTHING! You are allowed to be here illegally, all you have to do is pop out some tax burden’s from your crotch, and POOF you’re now legal!

    I don’t see what the Mexican’s are bitching about! They have it ALL! Complete immunity to prosecution, protection with the race card, and now they want to teach Racism and Mexican Superiority, which is hilarious all on it’s own. 

    This is NOT about civil rights, it’s just Mexicans trying to get MORE MORE MORE!


  7. EMPHecklers
    May 6, 2011

    The ONLY racists here are the Mexicans. Period.


    • leftfield
      May 6, 2011

      This is rich.  After all, I don’t think you failed to repeat too many of the usual stereotypes in your little missive above.  Then you conclude it all by calling someone else the racist. 


    • Ernie McCray
      May 6, 2011

      Oh, yeah, the Mexicans have it ALL! Has anyone told them?


  8. chuck123
    May 6, 2011

    It used to be the three ‘Rs’ at school and everything else was taught at home. I realize in this world this is an oversimplification but this might be the best route out of this morass….for now.
    I also read the other postings mentioned here and felt someone as bright as John Munger could have said what he had to say in a better way {if I was a conspiracy theorist I might actually say someone else wrote the posting and signed Johns name}. Of course I am here to weigh in with my own opinion.
    Is there a similar curriculum in Mexico and if not, why not? How about Ca or NM? How are other school districts in Az dealing with this? Or even within this county or city?
    Being caucasian since conception I cannot know any other ethnicity. During my school years I do not remember being taught about my own European heritage {except what everyone else was learning about the immigrations of the mid 1800s}. Of course in the Catholic school system I learned much about the diversity of religions as well as the absolute evils of religious intolerance. Which brings me to this current issue of intolerance, by both groups.
    Right now HB2281 is the law, and no matter how anyone feels about that law the only means for it’s repeal is through that same rule of law. Any other form does nothing to contribute to the resolution of one issue of that law. In a rhetorical sense will the changing in status of these studies in any way impair ALL students? Of course the biased answer can be to either extreme so let’s just try to keep it civil.
    Lastly, and this may truly smack of racism but all the Hispanics and Indians I have ever worked with since my return from overseas in the mid~90s have become true and enduring friends. We all had our respective jobs and as long as we treated each other with deserved dignity the goals of the company were always met. I have been to a few pow~wows {by invitation} and have enjoyed many Cinco de Mayos and what I have seen within these cultures is what has been taught at home and within those communities. What we teach in the schools should be to the equal benefit of ALL the students or not at all.


  9. James
    May 6, 2011

    It is unfair to assert, as supporters of MAS do, that anyone who disagrees with the Raza studies program is by default a racist.  Why so quick to play the race card all the time.  Is it not valid to disagree with the course for reasons other than skin color?  Just because someone opposes MAS being taught as a core curriculum course (as I do) does not mean they are necessarily racist (my wife is Latina).  This is America and students should be studying American history as core curriculum.  I have no problem with ethnic studies as electives.  What’s the problem with that?


  10. Verdugo
    May 6, 2011

    Many of you disagree with Munger, and apparently anything that is in opposition to what is called “Mexican American Studies”.  What’s left out of this discussion is what is actually taught in these so called “Mexican American Studies”. I’m Bolivian, so my perspective is different, but my MANY Mexican friends who were eductated in some of the best Mexican schools and colleges have NEVER heard of “Aztlan”, or a “Chicano”. History scholars don’t even agree that any such place exists, nor where it is exactly. Chicano? There’s no such race. It’s a fabricated race that perpetually whines for “justice” which really means, “you white people owe us because you stole our land from us”, along with this attitude of entitlement is the notion that it’s impossible for you as a mexican-american to ever make anything of yourself because the “white man” is oppressing you. That’s news to my many Mexican friends who are doctors, lawyers, accountants, professionals, and successful business people who got there from their own hard work, not because of MEChA.

    Aztlan. Chicano. These are foriegn terms that have been fabricated by extreme leftist organizations like MEChA, who have a heavy influence in what passes for “curriculum” in the TUSD Mexican American Studies. So you dont’ call it “communisim”, you call it “social justice”, it’s the same thing, but with a noble sounding term. It’s still socialism/communism…and it has no place as a required course in a publicly funded school system. MEChA shouldn’t have the ability to radicalize impressionable young people with public funds any more than a school should allow say, the Baptist church to teach “protestant-american” studies.

    If it’s Mexican history they want to teach, then it should be patterned after the history that is taught in Mexican schools, not what some leftist radicals with an agenda think it should be.


    • leftfield
      May 6, 2011

      This is interesting.  You say you are Bolivian.  Have you been in the US long?  I ask because I always thought the notion of the well-to-do were that way because they were industrious and virtuous and the poor are poor because they are quite the opposite was an American invention associated with the early religious revivals.  Do they have the same belief in Bolivia or did you pick that up here?  Perhaps it is something still promoted in churches world-wide?

      If you are a recent immigrant, I’m guessing you didn’t vote for Evo Morales? 


      • Tigere
        May 6, 2011

        Leftfield ( you appear to be the “advocate” here) So if I personally wanted to review the curriculum of “Mexican american Studies” and it reading list as well as teacher “cliff” notes where or how would I do that? And will you be a mayor  or a god or something in when Atzlan arrives ;)?


      • bill
        May 13, 2011

        So what. This is the same mindless sectarianism you bring to every political discussion. Do you really think that progressives can become a majority in a democratic republic while attacking everyone who is even slightly to your left? You are complicit in the election of far right candidates by advocating such extreme positions for progressives. We don’t need to support Evo Morales and other emerging dictators in order to be progressive. This isn’t 1920, and you are not Rosa Luxemburg.


        • leftfield
          May 13, 2011

          “This isn’t 1920, and you are not Rosa Luxemburg.”

          True and I must give you credit above your compatriats for having at least one verifiable fact in your posting.

          As to the issue of electing Progressives to office in this country, your confusion is a common one.  People on the right not uncommonly think that I am what might be called an “ultra-liberal”, but this is not true.  While I often participate in supporting the same causes, there are important differences.  Unlike the liberals that the right often refers to as being “Marxist”, I actually am a Marxist.  This has many significant consequences.  First, while a liberal might think the right wing is a force to be negotitated with, I think of them as an enemy to be vanquished and made irrelevant.  Secondly, I do not believe, as liberals do, that with the right people in office and the right laws in place,  peace and justice could prevail under the current regime.  No, liberals are often my fellows, but I would see the system they support  destroyed. 


  11. Pingback: In Mexican American Studies debate, Tucsonans need less spin and more truth - Tucson Progressive

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This entry was posted on May 6, 2011 by in Arizona, Arizona Legislature, democracy, Tucson, TUSD and tagged , , , , .

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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela Powers Hannley

I stand on the side of Love. I believe in kindness to all creatures on Earth and the inherent self-worth of all individuals--not just people who agree with me or look like me.

Widespread economic and social injustice prompted me to become a candidate for the Arizona House, representing Legislative District 9 in the 2016 election. My platform focuses on economic reforms to grow Arizona's economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, growlocal small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs. I also stand for equal rights, choice, and paycheck fairness for women. I am running as a progressive and running clean.

My day job is managing editor for the American Journal of Medicine, an academic medicine journal with a worldwide circulation. In addition, my husband and I co-direct Arizonans for a New Economy, Arizona's public banking initiative. I am a member of the national board of the Public Banking Institute, and I am co-chair of the Arizona Democratic Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus of the Arizona Democratic Party.

I am a published author, photographer, videographer, clay artist, mother, nana, and wife. I have a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University and a masters in public health from the University of Arizona. I grew up in Amherst, Ohio, but I have lived in Tucson, Arizona since 1981. I am a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson and the Public Relations Society of America.

My Tucson Progressive blog and Facebook page feature large doses of liberal ideas, local, state, and national politics, and random bits of humor. I also blog at Blog for Arizona and the Huffington Post.

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