Thursday, April 17, 2008

Critical Thinking and critical multiculturalism is unpatriotic?

This is what happens when xenophobia rears its ugly head : Full text below.

"Arizona public schools would be barred from any teachings considered counter to democracy or Western civilization under a proposal endorsed Wednesday by a legislative panel.

Additionally, the measure would prohibit students of the state'suniversities and community colleges from forming groups based in whole or part on the race of their members, such as the Black Business Students Association at Arizona State University or Native Americans United at Northern Arizona University. Those groups would be forbidden from operating on campus. The brainchild of Rep. Russell Pearce, the measure appeared as an amendment to Senate Bill 1108, which originally would have made minor changes to the state's Homeland Security advisory councils.

The House Appropriations Committee approved the new proposal on a 9-6 vote. Pearce, a Mesa Republican, said his target isn't diversity instruction, but schools that use taxpayer dollars to indoctrinate students in what he characterized as anti-American or seditious thinking. The measure is at least partially a response to a controversy surrounding an ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, which critics have said is unpatriotic and teaches revolution.

SB 1108 states, 'A primary purpose of public education is to inculcate values of American citizenship. Public tax dollars used in public schools should not be used to denigrate American values and the teachings of Western civilization. 'For schools that violate the anti-Western-teachings provision, the bill provides the state superintendent of public instruction with the authority to withhold a portion of state funding. Rep. John Kavanagh, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he hopes the measure helps return cultural studies in the state's schools to a 'melting pot' model.

'This bill basically says, 'You're here. Adopt American values,' " said Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican. "If you want a different culture,then fine, go back to that culture.'

But Democratic committee members complained that the measure is overly vague, failing to define what constitutes teachings that 'disparage or overtly encourage dissent from the values of democracy and Western civilization. 'The result, said Rep. Pete Rios, would likely be a chilling effect on public instruction regarding diversity and other cultures. 'There's nothing wrong with being bilingual, bicultural,' said Rios, a Hayden Democrat. 'I like Mexican music. I like Elvis Presley. I'm bicultural. What's wrong with that? I think kids, students, need to learn about their culture.'"

NOTE: As the US economy and middle class Americans begin to feel the downward spiral of the American dream, people will become afraid. When people are afraid, they look for escapegoats that they can blame for their misery. They will hold on to the privileges of their whiteness and sense of entitlements instead of working to form social justice alliances between all working class communities (both white and of color) -- this is according to sociologist Andrew L. Barlow.
They will not be able to connect the dots between global climate crisis (produced by man-made and US-led pollutants) market values of capitalism, war and militarization, illegal human trafficking, global rice and food shortage, etc.

As this ability to "connect the dots" has been the strength of ethnic studies courses and cultural studies, this Arizona bill is just one evidence of the Fear that grips the heart of those in power whose view of the world is narrow and limited to the old and bankrupt mantra of "us versus them."

In one sense the same arenas that cultivate what they are calling "un-American" thinking, the ability and opportunity to create debate, discussion, and free thinking is the basis for what we consider democratic. Universities support democracy by continuing to provide the venues in which its population have the ability to explore variations of thought. It's one of the few places in the world where saying something "un-American" is probably one of the most "American" things one can do.
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