Arizona's ethnic studies law is good for America

May 18, 2010

Leonard Pitts Jr. appears to have been quite confused when writing the column "Silencing history that hurts" (May 16). Either that, or he's intentionally misstating the facts behind Arizona's ban on ethnic studies courses, just as he and many other folks are now revealed to have distorted the facts on Arizona's new immigration legislation.

In fact, Arizona's new law barring ethnic studies courses does not in any way prevent the story of America from being accurately told, nor does it promote silence on America's blemishes.

The law is simple. The law outlaws ethnic studies courses that promote the overthrow of the United States government, promote resentment toward a race or class of people, are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group, or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals. It also doesn't prevent honest discussion regarding America's history, as long as such discussion groups don't bar any students based on their skin color or ethnicity.

That's not complicated. If, as Mr. Pitts suggests, no courses currently violate any of these things, then there's nothing to worry about.

However, Arizona Schools Superintendent Tom Horne, who first proposed this legislation almost three years ago, sees things differently. He's witnesses outlandish behavior from students who attended these myopic and narrow-minded groups that he knew wouldn't be taught in the homes of hard working immigrant families. He's seen first hand the detrimental effect that the radical group La Raza (translated The Race) has had on the minds of impressionable teenagers in Arizona schools.

On June 11, 2007, Superintendent Horne drafted an "Open Letter to the Citizens of Tucson." In the letter, Mr. Horne lays out clear examples of how some ethics studies courses are being used to divide, not unite us. To harbor animosity, not harmony. To promote radical race-based agendas, not peace and understanding.

Superintendent Horne proudly marched on Washington in 1963 with Martin Luther King Jr. He understands history. He is not intent on requiring anyone not to speak, nor has he indicated a willingness to sanitize history. He simply doesn't want any school districts in Arizona to promote racism, racial separatism, or anti-American philosophy. Is that really so bad?

To racial separatists, race hustlers and others who make their living off skin color, it probably is, but undoubtedly to a majority of Americans of all colors, it's a recipe for how we can move our diverse nation forward. Those who are on the fence should take the time to read Superintendent Horne's letter to the residents of Tucson, which is published online, and make up their own minds regarding the benefit of having such study courses in a public schools.

Don't leave it up to those who benefit from racial strife to make up your mind for you. Recall the reprehensible things that Jesse Jackson was caught on hidden microphone saying about candidate Barak Obama during the campaign.

Those who benefit from racial strife will always promote the status quo and always resist efforts to unite the American people. We can't allow them to succeed.

Michael P. DeCicco, Severn

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