Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ban This! - Arizona, You Hurt My Brain

There is absolutely no denying that the political climates of Connecticut and Arizona are about as opposite as Mitt and Obama in nearly every aspect of what could be construed as politics.  I have my political opinions and while I sit firmly on my fence of independence I can't help but laugh at some of the immense crazy coming out of my new home state.  There was a lot of crazy in my old home state but the Brewertopia I'm living in now is a whole different level of crazy.

See, Arizona has a hyperactive legislature and while that can pump out some shit that does make sense, like the Stupid Motorist Law, that a place like Connecticut is too much of a goddamn hippie to hold people responsible for their own idiocy to enact, we also get mind-numbing laws that make women perpetually pregnant and white-washes school curriculums.

Arizona is a border state.  There is nothing short of a cataclysmic tectonic event that'll change that.  That means there is a lot of ethnic diversity in this state, much to the chagrin of many people, especially the people in power.  Wherever you stand on the immigrant debate, this is a nation built by a melting pot of nationalities and while there is an illegal immigrant issue, especially here, that doesn't mean that ALL minorities are illegal and it doesn't mean that we should put the kibosh on ethnic diversity.  If you take a look at this list you'll be able to pick up a theme rather quickly.

Why?  Why is the state of Arizona going so far as to completely snuff out ethnic reading?  Arizona is squatting on a rather large plot of Indian and Mexican land.  I could get into how they were here first and the American settlers pushed them out and whatnot but that's not the argument (because, let's face it, imposing empires don't have a history of asking for things nicely).  White people are not native out here regardless of who took what from whom.  While I don't agree with encouraging illegal immigration I don't believe in discouraging ethnic education.

Arizona has this odd fear of a minority uprising and a usurpation of power found, obviously, in them reading books with words about non-whites in them.  HB 2281 expressly forbids "courses or classes that . . . are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group." THIS IS FOR REAL.  Read the bill and marvel at how far your eyes will cross.  The way this bill is being enforced is shutting down culturally diverse programs in schools and removing ethnic reading material from school classrooms and libraries for the sake of . . . what?  To promote equality in our schools?  By removing all culturally diverse texts from the rooms?  We learn about pilgrims in history until our damn eyes bleed.  As someone coming from New England that's a pretty poignant part of my area history (and of course the country's).  The settling of the American southwest would be a bit different.  Imagine living in New York City and not reading about the Harlem Renaissance because it was too far leaning towards one ethnicity.  No Langston Hughes for you.

No, I don't believe the overthrow of the US government should be taught in classrooms.  That's only slightly treasonous.  If this is to be believed that was one of the catalysts to the bill itself, the WAY some of these books were being taught.  Okay, so REFORM THE TEACHING.  Don't crush the entire program and remove the books because the teachers are supposedly sending bad messages.  And guys, if a book is removed from a classroom and thus removing students' access to it, it's banned.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably not a hippopotamus.

Sherman Alexie is no stranger to being banned in the fine state of Arizona and a channel has popped up on YouTube reading out books on Arizona's banned list.  No, I don't believe tax payer money should go to fund the upbringing of a generation of anarchists but at the same time if people are driving like shitbags you're not about to ban cars, are you?  No.  Have people learned nothing from banning books?  Have they not learned that banning them will only make them more desirable?  By removing them from schools those with enough want will just seek them out on their own?  History should not be removed from the classrooms and alternate views of history should be taught to get a more well-rounded view of the event in question.

This is rightly the second wave of the Civil Rights Movement (that Hannity article made that abundantly clear to me).  Voices are trying to be silenced.  Why?  How will that benefit anyone?  They'll find a way to speak one way or another.  Let history be taught.  Allow students access to all types of books suitable to their ages.  If the way these books are being taught is such a problem, how about keeping a closer eye on the teachers themselves instead of punishing the students?  All this looks like now is a sanitizing of the history of Arizona and of cultural diversity in general.  You're not oppressed or at a disadvantage.  Who's teaching you these things?  Seriously . . .  We're not all white WASPs bred from Europe.  To try and crush anything else is a bit of a disservice to, you know, a good chunk of the population.
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