chief copy editor
God bless you, Arizona.
You couldn’t end your unconstitutional practices with racial-profiling traffic stops. You proclaimed openly to the world that your privileged, simple-minded hatred went far deeper than the rest of the U.S. could have imagined.
Two weeks ago, an administrative judge in Arizona, Judge Lewis D. Kowal, decided that any program defined as ethnic studies was illegal as it promoted one race over another. The programs were immediately cancelled in all Tucson, Ariz. schools.
It makes sense. Learning about the history and culture of a group of people is obviously promoting racism and will lead to the destruction of … OK, I can’t even make it into a joke.
The rich white logic behind this decision is so unacceptable, it isn’t even funny.
Furthermore, teachers in the Tucson School District were told to remove any books where “race, ethnicity or oppression are main themes.” This included a picture book of Mexico and Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
Is there anyone in Arizona who can tell this judge that “ethnicity” doesn’t mean “those other poor people who don’t look white” ? An ethnic group is a group of people who share a common identity through culture and geographic location.
That means white people are ethnic, Judge Kowal.
So, given this actual definition of ethnicity, any book that mentions cultural behavior or geographic location or people is banned from Tucson schools.
Arizona just made reading illegal.
Unless of course, they meant that books about white people are fine. Some ethnic studies are acceptable, right Judge Kowal?
Arizona is stealing pieces of the Statue of Liberty and using them to build a bigger border fence. The U.S. that once asked the world to “Give me your tired, your poor/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” now wants those huddled masses to leave their books at home.
It would be easy to associate this situation with the United State’s history of literary suppression. In some cases, you could say that the attention gained from prohibition is a good thing. Conservative audiences were originally appalled by “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Howl.” Once these books were banned from schools, however, the demand for them rose drastically.
But this isn’t a decency issue. It is not one work that has been censored; Arizona has forbidden the mention of ethnicity.
Next, I imagine they’ll remove women’s studies from schools because the program is sexist. Any book that mentions women will be banned. Maybe books about poverty will be banned. Have a text that mentions a broken family? Banned.
Oh wait, oppression is a main theme in nearly every major literary work. We should all get ready to say goodbye to Twain, Plath, Stowe, Faulkner, Kafka, Camus, every non-white author, religious texts and newspapers.
Perhaps I’m being rash. After all, Arizona is just one state. Maybe we can all ignore Arizona like Arizona ignores culture.
Except it isn’t just Arizona. We are a collective of 50 united states forming one union. If those of us in the other 49 states allow Arizona to continue writing racism into law, we might as well join them.
Gather around, America. With Arizona leading the way, we may just be able to ostracize every human in the world.