Friday, April 30, 2010

Boycott Arizona Baby, Boycott

Enough is enough. As the level of reactionary racism in Arizona rises, so do calls for an economic boycott of Arizona with state and local governments, businesses and even the Mexican government are considering ways to do just that. It is time for progressives and people of conscience to consider ways to join the movement to remind Arizona conservatives what is at stake should they stay on the path to institutional state-sponsored racism.

After fighting the recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, to passing a draconian and unconstitutional immigration law to today’s move to ban ethnic studies programs, the time has come to drag Arizona kicking and screaming into the 21st Century. Locked in a time warp reminiscent of post-Civil War Reconstruction, Right Wing members of the Arizona legislature slide deeper into racially-driven hysteria.

In yet another fit of rabid Right Wing xenophobia, the Arizona legislature passed a bill that would effectively ban ethnic studies programs from the state’s public school curriculum. After being the passed through the Arizona House and Senate, the bill now sits on the desk of Republican Gov. Jan Brewer. Brewer, who admitted on camera that she does not “know what an illegal immigrant looks like” created a political firestorm by signing a law empowering local law enforcement to profile people who look like aliens.

This is not the first time ├╝ber conservatives in Arizona have attempted to remove ethnic studies from public schools. According to published news accounts, the drive to ban ethnic studies programs began in 2007 when Tom Horne, now the state’s State Superintendent for Public Instruction, fought to ban the programs in the Tucson Unified School District.

Among some of Horne’s more stunning claims he stated that “the American public school system has brought together students from different backgrounds and taught them to be Americans”. Just ask Native Americans about the history of Indian schools where native children were stripped of their cultural identities, religious beliefs and even their clothing, forced to wear the clothes of whites. This misguided effort at forced assimilation left deep wounds in the Native American culture.

Whipping himself into a jingoistic lather, Horne went on to claim that teaching ethnic studies “promotes Latinos to rise up and create a new territory out of the southwestern region of the United States and tries to intimidate conservative teachers in the school system”.

Americans of good will must not sit idly by and wait for Congressional action on immigration reform. We must as a matter of conscience act to force Arizona’s leadership to confront their racial paranoia.Economic boycotts can be an effective tool as demonstrated so well by the United Farm Workers during the struggle to organize farm workers and in helping to bring down the oppressively racist apartheid regime in South Africa.

It’s time to boycott baby boycott.

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