FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When Do You Start Counting?

by RODOLFO F. ACUÑA

When the great Muhammad Ali was asked how many sit ups he did, he responded,  “I don’t count my sit-ups, I only start counting when it starts hurting, that is when I start counting, because then it really counts, that’s what makes you a champion.”

These words resonate in Tucson where Latina/o students are fighting for an education by sitting-in in the office of Tucson Unified School District Superintendent of Schools John Pedicone, walking out of classes, demonstrating, and taking to the streets.

Students are dispelling the myth that Mexican Americans do not care about education; they have started counting because it hurts. They know the difference between being warehoused, sitting through classes where teachers go through the motions. They know when the subject matter is relevant; and the teachers believe in what they are teaching.

At my own campus at California State University Northridge students are mobilizing.  Up until now, a small minority protested the rising cost of tuition, which now tops $5,550 a year, promising to climb another 30 per cent next year.

Because of the lack of accessibility to education, they are growing disillusioned with our system of government. They don’t believe the promises of President Barack Obama State of the Union. Desperate, many students are dropping out of school.  The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back occurred this week.

CSU Chancellor Charles Reed issued a threat to all state campuses that any institution that exceeded its target enrollment by more than three percent would be docked $7 million.  The CSUN administration panicked and froze classes, not allowing needy students to enroll in classes, even when professors agreed to take them as an overload.

The result has been pandemonium. Many students are unable to get the requisite 12 units for financial and other scholarship aid. This action takes money out needy students’ pockets; the tuition for 12 units and 19 units is the same. Graduation will  be deferred by a couple of years.  For administrators earning $120,000 – $350,000 annually it is no big deal. But for poor and middle-class students it is a big deal.

The freeze has forced many students to start counting.  It has dawned on them that they are being shut out of what the Tucson students are fighting for, a college education.  Conservatives have always maintained that everyone has an equal opportunity; tragically many poor people believed that the myth.

However, this fairytale is being debunked by what is happening in California’s community colleges. Once a safety net where students could attend college almost tuition free and could live close to home and work, this is no longer the case.

Although the fees are still affordable at the two year colleges, the campuses have been flooded consequent to the pushdown of students who qualify for the University of California and the California State University systems but can’t afford it.  Consequently, the problem for community colleges is not so much tuition but the flood of students that have drowned them.

Filled beyond capacity their infra-structures have been inundated, and even when students are matriculated they face the impossible task of getting classes. This situation promises to worsen as the UC resorts to the vigorous recruiting of wealthy foreign and out of state students who are displacing residents.

If by this time, we are not counting, we should be because the hurt will worsen.

The challenge for students is to develop a strategy. It is not going to do us any good to say I told you so or to get angry.  We have to get even.  The reason the system will continue as if the crash never happened is because we did not get even.  Very few people have gone to jail, and the gaggle of thieves on Wall Street and government were not stigmatized.

Talk about class warfare, society differentiates between white and blue collar crime.  Pure and simple, we are complicit and let the big ones get away.

In Tucson, the rich benefit directly from the destruction of the Mexican American Studies program. Brutalizing immigrants and Latino students is part of the grand strategy to keep Mexicans in their place.

The assassination of nine-year old Brisenia Flores in her home sent a chilling to other Mexicans. Shawna Forde, who had ties with the Minutemen and FAIR, the Federation For American Immigration Reform, led the assassins, but the truth be told, the Tucson white elite were complicit, they benefited.

Let me be clear, the purpose for the destruction of the MAS program was to intimidate other minorities. African, Native and other Americans were put on notice that they will suffer a similar fate if they protest too loudly. They heard about Mexican American students being forced to stand by while the banned books were boxed and carted away. Students watched in silence, they sobbed.  Books had become important to them.

In the past I have spoken about Adolph Hitler’s “The Big Lie.” In that instance, the Jews and the gypsies were scapegoated.  Hitler used hate to rally the German people.  In a similar way, the anti-Mexican and anti-foreign hysteria helps conceal the criminality of ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) that owns the Arizona state legislature and SALC (the Southern Arizona Leadership Council) that controls public and private institutions in southern Arizona. Superintendent Pedicone rose through SALC’s ranks and was its vice-president.

Republican politicians have exploited the hatred of Mexicans, using it to their economic and political advantage. The same goes for the Koch Brothers, the Tea Party, the minutemen, and the prison and gun industries, not to mention the bankers who launder money made from selling arms to the Mexican cartels.

Politicos such as Attorney General Tom Horn and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal have built their careers by spreading lies and bashing Mexicans.  Tolerating them is like speaking respectfully of Hitler. ALEC and SALC leaders are criminals and child abusers. We should not abet their malfeasance by being respectful.

Some readers will say, “Rudy, you are going too far!” But am I going too far? Have they ever seen a 14 year old strung out on drugs, or a teenager that has a difficult time in explaining his or her thoughts?  Who has created these conditions? Who is to blame?

I once told my wife when she was getting frustrated tutoring a second grader, “if Jorge does not learn to read, he will end up in jail.” She started to cry. Have you ever met a second grader who was bad?

Because of my early parochial education, I have a strong sense of right and wrong. For me, “sometimes there is no other side.”   I have a mind, and as my teachers would tell me, “use it.” It is idiotic to say we are all equal in this country, it is a myth. In my vernacular, the word exploitation is the willful taking advantage of the poor.  It is an abomination and cannot be tolerated

The wonderful quality about students is that many have retained the sense to be outraged at injustice.  Reasoned moral outrage corrects the imperfections of society and achieves justice for all. And, that is precisely why the TUSD cabal is banning books. ALEC, SALC, the Tea Party and their gaggle can’t handle the truth, it is subversive.

William Shakespeare’s The Tempest  was banned. Why? It is threatening because it talks about colonialism. It is about the Earls of Southampton, investors in the Virginia Company. At court they support a Protestant-expansionist foreign policy. King James opposes it because he does not want trouble with Spain. Eventually this leads James to executed Sir Walter Raleigh.

The Tempest is told through the eyes of Caliban, a native of a colonized island. It is about his accusations against the colonial governor, Prospero.

Prospero is the colonizer; Caliban, the colonized.  Prospero looks at Caliban as being genetically inferior. The story betrays Prospero’s colonial mentality; he has little respect for the natives or the environment. His demeanor resembles that of Superintendent Pedicone and the white establishment of Tucson who regard Mexicans, whether born on this side or the other side of the border as aliens.

Rather than use history or literature to correct the imperfections of society, Huppenthal and the majority of the TUSD board chose to censor books. The Tucson cabal believes that it can hide the truth, and thus keep Mexicans in their place. It is similar to the efforts of many former confederate states to erase any mention of slavery as if it had never existed.  According to them, African Americans were happy under slavery. It is similar to the efforts of neo-Nazis to deny the holocaust or the Turks’ denial of the Armenian genocide.

Their view is if people don’t know about it, it did not happen. Consequently, Mexicans can continue to drop out of school, go to prison, work at minimum wage jobs, and believe in fairy tales.   If they learn, they may start counting.

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution. 

More articles by:

RODOLFO ACUÑA, a professor emeritus at California State University Northridge, has published 20 books and over 200 public and scholarly articles. He is the founding chair of the first Chicano Studies Dept which today offers 166 sections per semester in Chicano Studies. His history book Occupied America has been banned in Arizona. In solidarity with Mexican Americans in Tucson, he has organized fundraisers and support groups to ground zero and written over two dozen articles exposing efforts there to nullify the U.S. Constitution.

Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail