Banning Books and Censoring Ideas in the Arizona Reich

Banning Books and Censoring Ideas in the Arizona Reich

“The implementation of the Arizona law HB 2281 has now permitted the banning and elimination of the Mexican-American Studies Program at the Tucson School District. The use of selective discrimination did not eliminate the District’s African-American or Native-American Studies Programs. This Mexican-American Studies ban includes the outlawing of certain courses, books, authors and ideas that the state of Arizona and the Tucson School Board believe are dangerous and “un-American”. This book-banning and censorship is reminiscent of the repressive 1950′s McCarthyist period when any dissenting ideas, writers and books were black-listed. With the disbanding of Mexican-American Studies at the TUSD, students are now forbidden to voluntarily take courses that pertain to Chicano history, culture and literature, nor discuss in a classroom setting the ideas of other ethnic authors that enhance a student’s pride, self-esteem and their development of a broad and positive world outlook. State Superintendent of Education John Huppenthal threatened the Tucson School District with the loss of millions of dollars in funding if they did not carry out this undemocratic purge of ideas and educational courses. The cowardly Tucson Board voted 4-1 to capitulate to this racially-charged and unjust demand to eliminate Raza Studies rather than wage a legal and just battle in court. The newly banned books and writers in this witch hunt include essays, stories and poetry by nationally known Chicano and Latino authors. Other works that were banned include the 20 year-old award winning book “Rethinking Columbus” which features an essay by award-winning Native-American writer Leslie Silko, and the Brazilian writer Paolo Freire. Even William Shakespeare has been designated as “subversive” by Arizona officials as his play “The Tempest” was also banned by this inquisition of the Arizona Reich. What is so dangerous about these writings and ideas that have caused such fear among Arizona’s officials? “Rethinking Columbus” presents a different perspective on the exploration of the Americas by Columbus and the subsequent colonization by Spain, while Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” has long been used in universities and educational programs as a proposed methodology on how to educate poor and disenfranchised people. Shakespeare’s crime according to Arizona’s inquisitors is that “The Tempest” dared to depict the harsh colonial treatment of Native-Americans by English settlers. Other banned books were “500 Years of Chicano History in Photos”, “Chicano: The History of the Mexican Civil Rights Movement”, “Occupied America”, and the poetry of various authors. Even the coming-of-age story “House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros is on the forbidden list. The danger that Arizona officials perceive in these works is that young people will actually learn to think critically and view the world and their lives in an all-sided manner. This is an attack on academic and artistic freedom as this book-banning edict by these authoritarian officials is a narrow and elitist attempt on their part to decide what is good for people’s minds and what is not.” – Jimmy Franco Sr.

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Jimmy Franco Sr. is the moderator and writer of the blog site: “A Latino Point of View in Today’s World”


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