Tucson Progressive

Pamela J. Powers, a progressive voice for Arizona

Will the Real John Huppenthal Please Stand Up?


Protest sign from a Resist SB1070 demonstration in Tucson.

Since Blog for Arizona broke the story, new insights into Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal’s secret life as an Internet troll continue to be revealed as bloggers and journalists study years of online comments.

Between Tucson Progressive blog and Blog for Arizona (BfAZ), there are nearly 400 comments from Thucydides or Flacon9, but there could be more unknown Huppenthal posts out there.

An anonymous tipster now claims that someone with the online name “Thucydides” has made comments on at least one white nation (WN) website. Are BfAZ Thucycides and WN Thucydides the same person? No one knows. BfAZ figured out that Thucydides was Huppenthal by analyzing comments, e-mail address, and IP addresses. Three key findings cemented the identification: Thucydides posted from a Department of Education computer, Thucydides commented from a computer in Japan when Huppenthal was there, and one Thucydides comment was signed by Huppenthal. In the case of the alleged WN comments, the NSA probably knows if they exist and has access to the email addresses or the IP addresses for comparison– but we don’t… yet.

Would it be a big surprise to find out the Huppenthal is sympathetic to white nationalist beliefs? Not really. From his anonymous comments, we already have proof he is a racist– something he has been accused of for many years. Let’s look at his history and his policies.

Stop La Raza

As a member of the Arizona Senate, Huppenthal was a co-sponsor of the infamous “papers please” SB1070, and he voted for HB2281, bill that led to the dismantling of Tucson Unified School District’s (TUSD) Mexican American Studies (MAS) Program. He rode those votes and the Tea Party wave into office as head of Arizona schools in 2010– vowing to “Stop La Raza”.

In public and anonymously on the blogs, Huppenthal vocally attacked Mexican American Studies and backed former Superintendent of Public Instruction and now Attorney General Tom Horne’s hard-line stance against MAS.

From the LA Times:

Both the [MAS] ban’s author, state Atty. Gen. Tom Horne, and its biggest supporter, Supt. of Public Instruction John Huppenthal, touted their opposition to ethnic studies and their “tough on Mexicans” credentials in their bids for statewide office in 2010. In one particularly baldfaced radio ad paid for by Huppenthal’s campaign, the announcer declares the candidate to be “one of us.” He goes on to say that Huppenthal voted to end bilingual education and this time will “stop La Raza”

Whatever its faults, the [MAS] program was not anywhere as dangerous as a white majority that simultaneously fights to protect its power and the purity of its reputation. [Emphasis added.]

Known White Supremacist Pals

Huppenthal and Pearce

When former Senate President Russell Pearce faced a recall election, Huppenthal publicly endorsed him. As the father of SB1070 and a friend of known white supremacists, Pearce’s reign of terror represents some Arizona’s darkest times. Pearce had ties to known white supremacist J.T. Ready, who died in 2012 after killing four people, including his girlfriend. (See video below.)

From Salon.com

For several years, media outlets in Arizona and at the national level have explored links between Pearce and extremist groups, and in 2006 he was caught circulating a Holocaust-denying article from a West Virginia-based white supremacist group. In issuing an apology, Pearce claimed to not have known about the National Alliance’s views.

But a new examination of Pearce’s website and public statements reveals that the self-proclaimed architect of Arizona’s “papers please” immigration law has regularly borrowed significant portions of text from the writings of hard-line white nationalists, fringe anti-immigrant activists, and others whose views far fall outside the mainstream and presented them as his own.

Interestingly enough, Thucydides’ online comments not only show his contempt for immigrants but also reveal that he is a Holocaust denier. From the Tucson Weekly...

It is truly frightening that the man responsible for educating Arizona’s children grossly misrepresents the origins and nature of the Holocaust, the 20th Century’s greatest tragedy. For Jews living in Arizona, his anonymous blog post about Hitler hits particularly close to home; it borders on Holocaust denial. This awful rhetoric isn’t the kind of thing that he should be able to just shy away from with antics at a press conference. he needs to be held accountable for this hatred.

In Huppenthal’s perverted worldview, Hitler was not uniquely evil. Huppenthal said, “It was Darwin, not Hitler, who named the Germans the master race” and started the push towards elimination of Jews. The reality is that Darwin was a scholar and that right-wing extremists, including a young Adolf Hitler, distorted his theory of evolution to justify heinous attempts to exterminate minorities. The attempt to link Darwin to Hitler has been a right-wing obsession to discredit Darwin’s theory of evolution. Professor Robert Richards has noted, “ it can only be a tendentious and dogmatically driven assessment that would condemn Darwin for the crimes of the Nazis.” Huppenthal is grossly ignorant of the horrible history of anti-Semitism in Europe that allowed Hitler to rise to power and for ordinary Germans to join in his campaign against the Jews.

In 2011, Huppenthal showed his fuzzy and somewhat convoluted knowledge about Nazi Germany when he likened the MAS program to the white supremacist propaganda machine under Hitler. (Yes, you read that correctly. It’s kind of an odd twist when you consider the white supremacists in Arizona were against MAS.)

From the Huffington Post...

The Arizona Independent Daily blog posted Huppenthal’s comments from the GOP gathering last week on the Tucson Citizen site:

“Huppenthal discussed the MAS practice of victimizing, or “racismizing” students. He stated that these same practices were used in the development of the Hitler Jugend. He talked about Nazi’s efforts to demonize one group of people in young people’s minds. He stated that sheer intellectual power will win over the public when they look at the anti-intellectual nature of the MAS program.”According to the Wikipedia entry, the Hitler Jugend was the second oldest paramilitary organization in Nazi Germany that trained youth in weapons training and assault tactics, and propagated white supremacist and anti-Semitic beliefs.

The comment is particularly disturbing in light of the fact that the Arizona Anti-Defamation League came out against Arizona’s controversial Ethnic Studies ban and declared the Mexican American Studies program “so obviously resuscitated the desire to learn in so many students.”

Continued Support for SB1070, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, & Anti-Immigrant Policies

Although SB1070 has been largely dismantled and Sheriff Joe Arpaio has been sued multiple times and hounded by accusations of racial profiling, Huppenthal (posting as Thucydides) is still a strong supporter of both. In fact, he repeatedly makes the case that SB1070 and Sheriff Joe are good for Latinos. [Emphasis added. Grammatical errors and typos are the author’s.]

Thucydides on May 28, 2013:

Lets look at the numbers. Murders are diwn in Arizona from a peak of 460 to 340. All of that imorivement, all of it, came frim Maricopa county. Automobile thefts are down 50 percent. DUI fatalities are diwn almist 50per cent. Child fatalities from DUI are down over 60 deaths per year. Thats almost 3 sandy hook nassacres per year. The overwhelming beneficiary of this safety are low income hispanics. All if this imprivement has happened since 1070 and sunce Arpaois juse of 1070.

Thucydides on May 29, 2013:

Also, illegal immigrants have a crime signature. Car theft, driving drunk and murder. You have to separate your crimes by type and county to calculate the Arpaoi effect, not by city jurisdiction.

Thucydides on March 9, 2014:

If you are an immigrant in Arizona sb1070 established that you can’t drive drunk, you can’t drive without insurance, and you can’t burgularize, loot and kill on your down days without being deported. [Just a little bit racist, there, don’t ya think?]

Arizona is once again livable for low income minorities and their families.

Thucydides on March 18, 2014:

Lets go over the data one more time. Since SB1070:
12 month murder rates in the city of phoenix have fallen from 340 to 109
Car thefts in AZ have fallen from 50,000 to 25,000
Auto crash deaths of children have fallen from 140 to 70
(Half this reduction is Hispanic)
DUI fatalities have dropped by over 30 percent

Intellectual corruption in our media, our universities and this blog have spun the fiction that 1070 was racially motivated. No, it was motivated by the horrific crime wave that low income Hispanics were experiencing flowing out of illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration was causing the equivalent of ten Sandy Hook massacres per year in Arizona. 

Promoting Self-Segregation through Charter Schools

Besides being an anti-immigrant, Holocaust denier, Huppenthal is a strong supporter of dismantling public schools in favor of for-profit charter schools.

It is well known that the Arizona Legislature’s favorite place to cut spending is public education– the great leveler of opportunity. This is long-standing strategy to reduce access to quality education for all of Arizona’s children– regardless of race, ethnicity, or class– in favor of building an unregulated collection of for-profit businesses supported with state funds. As a member of the Legislature and as Superintendent of Public Instruction, Huppenthal has been in the thick of  this.

TUSD has suffered a tremendous amount of white flight in recent years thanks to the Legislature’s policies. The community-wide turmoil created by Horne and Huppenthal’s insistence on dismantling MAS hurt TUSD and hurt Tucson.

TUSD enrollment

TUSD enrollment shows that the percentage of white students in the district has declined steadily. In the 1996-97 school year, the district was 45.5% white and 41.8% Hispanic, with the remainder made up of the other races. By 2010-11, the percentage of white students in TUSD had dropped to 28.9% and the Hispanic proportion has risen to 56.2%. Overall enrollment in TUSD also declined during this time period. The percentages of Native Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans did not change significantly. (Data source: TUSD. Graphic by The Tucson Progressive.)

Thanks to heavy promotion of charters and unfair funding practices, the Legislature and the Superintendent of Public Instruction are re-building a segregated school system in Arizona. Earlier this year, Huppenthal even recorded robocalls to 15,000 parents encouraging them to consider charter schools over public schools.

Self-segregation through charter schools has been ignored in Arizona, as we skip gleefully toward a more balkanized society. From one of those darned liberal universities

The charter school movement has been a major political success, but it has been a civil rights failure. As the country continues moving steadily toward greater segregation and inequality of education for students of color in schools with lower achievement and graduation rates, the rapid growth of charter schools has been expanding a sector that is even more segregated than the public schools. The Civil Rights Project has been issuing annual reports on the spread of segregation in public schools and its impact on educational opportunity for 14 years. We know that choice programs can either offer quality educational options with racially and economically diverse schooling to children who otherwise have few opportunities, or choice programs can actually increase stratification and inequality depending on how they are designed. The charter effort, which has largely ignored the segregation issue, has been justified by claims about superior educational performance, which simply are not sustained by the research. Though there are some remarkable and diverse charter schools, most are neither. The lessons of what is needed to make choice work have usually been ignored in charter school policy. Magnet schools are the striking example of and offer a great deal of experience in how to create educationally successful and integrated choice options. [Emphasis added.]

Grijalva Calls for an Investigation of Huppenthal

Given Huppenthal’s history as a lawmaker, no one should be surprised by Huppenthal’s racist online comments. Maybe everyone is just surprised he was dumb enough to get caught. I agree with Congressman Raul Grijalva; it’s time for a federal investigation into Huppenthal’s performance and actions.

From the Tucson Weekly

“There is a clear pattern of alarming behavior and terrible judgment characterizing Mr. Huppenthal’s tenure as Superintendent,” said Rep. Grijalva. “His actions are unbecoming of any elected official, but particularly egregious for the official charged with educating our kids.”

The Department of Education is currently reviewing the allegations Grijalva raised in February, and a groundswell of local voices has called for Huppenthal’s ouster.

“Children must not be exposed to the hateful and misguided sentiments expressed in Mr. Huppenthal’s blog posts,” Grijalva continued. “And we cannot allow the potential violation of student privacy by our top education official to be ignored. I look forward to the outcome of the Department of Education’s investigation, and stand with those calling for his resignation.”

Instead of making another non-apology for years of inappropriate and often inaccurate online comments, Huppenthal should come clean about all of his secret activities.

One comment on “Will the Real John Huppenthal Please Stand Up?

  1. Adiklass
    August 5, 2014

    My suggestion is to dig up that $177,000. reropt that was ordered by State Superintendent of Education, Huppenthal and make it public, make the results viral. This reropt very thoroughly examined the parameters of the Ethnic Studies courses and determined that they were not separatist or racist. The fact that the hack Huppenthal hid the results of this study from the public means that he was on a mission to destroy a very successful program, irregardless of the facts and research that supported its continued existence. He was hoping this study would confirm his prejudices, and when it didn’t he hid its results. Let’s find out what the study concluded and thus expose Huppenthal for the academic and political hack that he is.


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The Tucson Progressive: Pamela J. Powers

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 focused on economic reforms to grow Arizona’s economy, establish a state-based public bank, fix our infrastructure, fully fund public education, grow local small businesses and community banks, and put people back to work at good-paying jobs.

In the Arizona House, I was a strong voice for fiscal responsibility a moratorium on corporate tax breaks until the schools were fully funded, increased cash assistance to the poor, expansion of maternal healthcare benefits, equal rights, choice, unions, education at all levels and protecting our water supply.

After three terms, I retired from the Arizona Legislature in January 2023 but will continue to blog and produce my podcast “A View from the Left Side.”

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