We Must All Unite Against Unity

By Jesse Taylor
Wednesday, May 12, 2010 21:59 EDT
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imageArizona just banned ethnic studies classes from their public schools.

Now, some might say, “Oh, they didn’t ban all ethnic studies classes from schools, just the ones that promote ethnic solidarity or resentment.” That would be totally cool, except that the bill as passed is so vague that you pretty much can’t mention a (non-white) ethnicity in the classroom, lest you hurt someone’s fee-fees. What the bill bans:

Prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that:

Ø Promote the overthrow of the United States government.
Ø Promote resentment toward a race or class of people.
Ø Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group.
Ø Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.

Here’s how this will (inevitably) play out: it’s [Insert Minority Ethnic Group] History Month. Students are taught about all the wonderful things people in that group did. However, inevitably, someone in that minority group who’s particularly famous will have, at some point, clashed with white people about something or other related to race. Perhaps it’s Martin Luther King, Jr., perhaps it’s Cesar Chavez, perhaps it’s the story of ol’ Bill Johnson who went down to Ace Hardware and wondered why he got a worse deal on his grill than the young white women who flashed cleavage at the cashier. But the discussion will come up, and it’s at that point that the law will step in and put the hammer down. There is no reason you should be discussing racial conflict or identity in this country, because this is America, and everyone in this country is an individual – together.

…Or something.

Jammie Wearing Fool ably illustrates the point:

If it’s so important that these kids learn about their heritage, let them take classes on it outside of the schools or here’s a novel idea: Let their parents teach them about it. Nobody taught me anything about my cultural heritage in school. I learned it from my family and reading about it myself.

I don’t know this Fool. But I’m assuming from years of reading said Fool that he is white. Which, of course, means that in the American diaspora, Fool has been routinely educated about his cultural heritage in classes called “History” and “Social Studies” and “English”.

You might wonder (correctly) if the inevitable effect of this law runs both ways – can minority students say that the teaching of standard, majority-focused narratives would allow them to raise a stink about ethnic solidarity and the like? Of course not! White administrators and white legislators will just say that’s history and tell those silly illegals to sit down and shut up before they’re asked for their papers.

I just can’t wait until the Arizona state legislature bans refried beans as a preventative measure against Latino supremacy. That’s going to be a great day.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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