FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Demonizing Mexican-American Studies

by ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ

I pick up the phone at my office at the University of Arizona and learn that I have three recorded messages waiting for me. The first one begins with the caller claiming to be half White and half Native American, addressing me as an “(expletive) Mexican” and a “Raza (expletive).” This while injecting a .357 Magnum into his rant.

The second and third calls are similar. The vitriol is inexplicable and virtually incomprehensible, except for the threats of extreme violence.

As a lifelong writer, receiving vicious hate mail is not new to me, including receiving a registered letter to my house from the Ku Klux Klan. But receiving death threats as a professor — this is new.

Just the week before those calls, a video was placed on YouTube by right-wing elements, accusing me of being the ringleader of the movement to defend Mexican-American Studies (MAS) from being eliminated by the state, via House Bill 2281. In reality, that six-year effort has primarily been a student-led movement.

The funny thing is they invented the things that I supposedly did: standing on top of a table while directing the students to chain themselves to the school boardroom chairs and screaming at my students if they didn’t read precisely what I wrote for them to read at the board meetings.

Complete fabrications are indeed funny to me, but I can’t say the same thing about death threats.

In April 2011, when high-school students took over the Tucson Unified School District boardroom, within a few days, a YouTube video was posted of the students chaining themselves, with music in the background, referring to them as zombies and imploring viewers to “shoot them in the head.”

Just a few months before the threats, 19 people were shot in Tucson by a mentally deranged loner, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Six died. Just recently, a renowned anti-immigrant neo-Nazi, J.T. Ready, killed four people, plus himself, in Gilbert.

This is the poisoned environment we were/are living in. In Arizona, the land of political extremism, racial profiling and political vigilantism, death threats and political violence are no laughing matter, but when the Tucson Police Department investigated the “shoot them in the head” video, the lead investigator concluded that the incitement to violence against the students was but a “joke.”

When I received the death threats in May 2011, I decided that I would press charges against the perpetrator, to send the message that death threats have no place in civil discourse.

In early June, the person who issued the threats against me will be standing trial, facing misdemeanors. I would like to believe that my life is worth at least a felony.

The threats, innuendo and slander against MAS educators, students and me are ugly, but that’s actually the smaller story here.

What precipitated the six-year battle is the state’s insistence that the MAS curriculum is outside of Western civilization, and that the teaching of the maize or indigenous-based curriculum, with an emphasis on social justice, had to be shut down.

The attempt to demonize a discipline, claiming it promotes hate and the overthrow of the U.S. government, and the subsequent dismantling of MAS-TUSD this January, is a threat not to individuals, but a metaphorical attempted assassination against an entire culture, a culture that has been here for many thousands of years. That said, anyone issuing death threats should always be held accountable.

Roberto Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, and a member of the MAS-TUSD community advisory board, can be reached at:XColumn@gmail.com. The column is also posted at: http://drcintli.blogspot.com/

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

April 27, 2017
Darlene Dubuisson – Mark Schuller
“You Live Under Fear”: 50,000 Haitian People at Risk of Deportation
Karl Grossman
The Crash of Cassini and the Nuclearization of Space
Robert Hunziker
Venezuela Ablaze
John W. Whitehead
Trump’s America is a Constitution-Free Zone
Ron Jacobs
One Hundred Years That Shook the World
Judith Deutsch
Convenient Untruths About “Human Nature:” Can People Deal with Climate Change and Nuclear Weapons?
Don Fitz
Is Pope Francis the World’s Most Powerful Advocate for Climate Stability?
Thomas Mountain
Africa’s War Lord Queen: The Bloodstained Career of Liberia’s Eleanor Sirleaf Johnson
Binoy Kampmark
Short Choices: the French Presidential Elections
Paul C. Bermanzohn
Monetizing My Mouth
Michael Barker
Of Union Dreams and Nightmares: Cesar Chavez and Why Funding Matters
Elier Ramirez Cañedo
“Let Venezuela give me a way of serving her, she has in me a son.”
Paul Mobbs
Cellphones, WIFI and Cancer: Will Trump’s Budget Cuts Kill ‘Electrosmog’ Research?
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
The Closing of Rikers: a Survival Strategy of the Carceral State
April 26, 2017
Richard Moser
Empire Abroad, Empire At Home
Stan Cox
For Climate Justice, It’s the 33 Percent Who’ll Have to Pick Up the Tab
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Machine Called Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
The Dilemma for Intelligence Agencies
Christy Rodgers
Remaining Animal
Joseph Natoli
Facts, Opinions, Tweets, Words
Mel Gurtov
No Exit? The NY Times and North Korea
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Women on the Move: Can Three Women and a Truck Quell the Tide of Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse?
Michael J. Sainato
Trump’s Wikileaks Flip-Flop
Manuel E. Yepe
North Korea’s Antidote to the US
Kim C. Domenico
‘Courting Failure:’ the Key to Resistance is Ending Animacide
Barbara Nimri Aziz
The Legacy of Lynne Stewart, the People’s Lawyer
Andrew Stewart
The People vs. Bernie Sanders
Daniel Warner
“Vive La France, Vive La République” vs. “God Bless America”
April 25, 2017
Russell Mokhiber
It’s Impossible to Support Single-Payer and Defend Obamacare
Nozomi Hayase
Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech
Robert Fisk
The Madder Trump Gets, the More Seriously the World Takes Him
Giles Longley-Cook
Trump the Gardener
Bill Quigley
Major Challenges of New Orleans Charter Schools Exposed at NAACP Hearing
Jack Random
Little Fingers and Big Egos
Stanley L. Cohen
Dissent on the Lower East Side: the Post-Political Condition
Stephen Cooper
Conscientious Justice-Loving Alabamians, Speak Up!
Michael J. Sainato
Did the NRA Play a Role in the Forcing the Resignation of Surgeon General?
David Swanson
The F-35 and the Incinerating Ski Slope
Binoy Kampmark
Mike Pence in Oz
Peter Paul Catterall
Green Nationalism? How the Far Right Could Learn to Love the Environment
George Wuerthner
Range Riders: Making Tom Sawyer Proud
Clancy Sigal
It’s the Pits: the Miner’s Blues
Robert K. Tan
Abe is Taking Japan Back to the Bad Old Fascism
April 24, 2017
Mike Whitney
Is Mad Dog Planning to Invade East Syria?    
John Steppling
Puritan Jackals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail