Thursday, May 13, 2010

On immigration and ethnic studies. Arizona, determined to drive out all that nasty Hispanic and liberal money, has added strict new regulations on ethnic studies in public schools. While they seem obvious at first glance, at second glance they sound in clinical paranoia. I have always had hesitations regarding ethnic/women’s studies. Well, I have since their inception, which I am old enough to recall clearly. I seems to me a better route would be to be more inclusive in American and world history classes.

I note that the apparent source of the bizarre “Cleopatra was black.” movement is a Black studies program at one university where the theory is aggressively professed by the instructor. Anecdotal evidence such as this is often quoted by those who fear such courses, but I have yet to hear any verifiable data regarding how accurate and or how divisive such programs are.

I recall as a student at San Deigo State the resentment I felt that female students had a special lounge from which the rest of us were excluded. Why wasn't there a male only lounge? I have no doubt that that was wrong, but do ethnic studies really promote the overthrow of the United States? Do they actually “track” students racially? The law refers to these and other abuses and at least one Arizona official defended the law saying these excesses do occur. If so, this is one retired school administrator who thinks that a new law is less necessary than appropriate supervision by school authorities. If passing a law is the only way to make Arizonan principals and superintendents do their job, something is very rotten in the educational system of Arizona.

In any event, it seems clear to me that Arizona is wildly overreacting to show the world that they are tough on tolerance. The fact that the majority of Americans polled support Arizona’s hard boiled approach to the immigration problem encourages them, but they should remember that at one time, something like 90% of Americans supported the Iraq war. At that time I said, “The day will come when America will look at Iraq and ask, ‘How did we get into the mess?’” I was right then and I am convinced that Arizona will one day say the same thing about its new attitude.

I also can't resist pointing out that Arizona and many Americans are bitterly angry that the federal government failed to deal with immigration. I recall that one of the few things Georgie Porgy tried to do right was comprehensive immigration reform. He was prevented from doing so by the same people who are now so bitter that the government failed to serve their needs by listening to them. If only Bush had ignored their demands to do nothing, they would now be happy that he had done something against their will. Ummm... so they are now mad at the government for daring to do as they demanded in the past and also angry at it for not doing what they are demanding now. OK. Makes sense to me!

I must add a point that angers me to the maximum. Hispanics are regularly attacked for being racist due to the name of one political advocacy group. I refer, of course, to La Raza. I am not a member and do not know much about the group's activities, but neither do those who use the name to bitterly attack Hispanics, including the Arizonan official I listened to earlier tonight. If he does know something about the group, he didn’t mention it. all he did was point out the “obvious” racism inherent in the name.

The problem is that the definition of the word “raza” is more complex than the automatically assume bigotry crowd think. The definition is as follows: Race, generation, lineage, family, clan: branch of a family.

In other words, while it is possible the members of La Raza are implying that they are racists by choosing this name, it is also possible that they are simply affirming their membership in an ethnic group [ie: clan]; their feeling that they constitute an extended family [The family of man? Well, the Hispanic sub Family of Man anyway]; or simply acknowledging that they share a lineage and a culture.

Of course, a certain type of person automatically assumes the worst of those who are darker skinned than themselves. I think this is unwise and says a lot more about the person making the assumption than it does about La Raza.

I don’t want to make assumptions either. It is possible that La Raza is making a racist claim. Does anyone know? If you do, I'd like to see the evidence.

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