texshelters

Posts Tagged ‘Tucson’

Ethnic Studies Banned for Telling Truth

In Current Events, Education, History on January 2, 2012 at 17:51

 No Mexicans from tucsoncitizen.com

The legislative ban on ethnic studies classes in Arizona high schools was upheld in Administrative court in Phoenix, AZ in December by judge Lewis D. Kowal of the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings. More accurately, the ban on Mexican-American studies in Tucson has been upheld. We can add Judge Kowal to the names of John Huppenthal and Tom Horne, who pushed this bill through the Republican dominated state legislature, as well as Joe Arpaio and others, who want to shut up Mexicans.

These white men are concerned that teaching Mexican, Chicano, and other children about Mexican-American history and ethnic studies would create a classroom environment that “demonizes white people as oppressors of Hispanics.”  This claim is ridiculous; one or two classes of ethnic studies can’t make up for 10 years of teaching the history of European Americans in the United States. Here is the language in the law addressing the concerns of Huppenthal, Horne and anti-ethnic studies groups.

The four activities identified by the bill that warrant fund withholding include classes that:

1. Promote the overthrow of the United States government
2. Promote resentment toward a race or class of people
3. Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group
4. Advocate for ethnic solidarity  

Ethnic studies has nothing to do with promoting government overthrow, and there are already laws against treason. This point is a ridiculous, fear mongering tactic. Moreover, the point of ethnic studies is to focus on one particular ethnic group. Hasn’t American history focused primarily on White Europeans for years? People who don’t want an educated populous fight against a diversity of knowledge. And what’s so scary about ethnic solidarity? It’s only scary if you are insecure and know that minorities working together means you will no longer be able to bully them, harass them with impunity and you, as a soon to be white minority, may no longer be elected to office.

And how about point number two, the idea that ethnic studies promotes resentment. Do our state officials not know that there is already resentment against White Europeans for the treatment of Mexican Americans?  And yes, there are historical reasons for this resentment.  Do people actually believe that banning the study of Mexican-Americn history will alleviate resentment minority students feel toward a White, Eurocentric school system? And more to the point, don’t the anti-ethnic studies groups understand that teenagers have more to be concerned with than historical oppression. There’s grades, work, family, relationships and dozens of other issues students are facing and one ethnic studies class won’t create groups of revolutionary Mexicans. Once again, right-wingers overreact and create a bigger problem for themselves.

Here are a few facts that might lead to resentment:

Mexico controlled the land that is now Arizona for almost four decades until the United States, mostly white folks of Protestant faith, moved into Texas, and through guile and the gun, cajoled Mexico into a war with the United States (1846-48). Half of Mexico was ceded to the victorious United States, mainly the lands north of the Rio Grande. This U.S. victory led to oppression of many Mexican-Americans, the kind of oppression Judge Kowal wants us to ignore.

Thousands of Mexican citizens lost their land after the war due to the difference between land ownership laws, manipulation by white judges (again with the white judges) and through violence. “Two generations later, most Mexicans living in the U.S. no longer held title to their lands and found their cultural way of life increasingly under attack as U.S. white supremacy came to predominate.  In California, as land transferred from Mexican to Euro-American hands, a very racially-motivated Workingman’s Party dominated the call for a Constitutional Convention.  In 1879, that new Constitution not only made Chinese immigration illegal (the primary cause of the Party), but it also destroyed the legal protections Mexicans once enjoyed, rights promised to them in the 1848 Treaty. ”  

So, promising Mexican nationals U.S. citizenship and title to land they owned before the war and then later taking the land doesn’t constitute sufficient “oppression” of Mexicans by whites, thus we shouldn’t teach our students this history. It’s not oppression, it’s just inconvenient facts that some Whites want to hide from us.

What about segregation of Mexicans and white Europeans in the Southwest akin to black segregation in the South? Does that count? White men in power like Horne, Huppenthal, Kowak and others want to hide this history of discrimination behind a wall of reverse discrimination nonsense. Are they afraid that when Latinos become a plurality or majority in this state that they will go after the whites? Don’t worry guys, class will still keep us separate after the Mexican reconquista. Or will it?

Then there is the legal exploitation and not so legal abuse of workers of Mexican descent.  These workers get paid subpar wages, some live in company like towns on farms in squalid conditions, many work more dangerous jobs, they have no rights as workers, get no insurance, and don’t benefit from their contributions to Social Security. We complain about “illegal” workers from Mexico, but we target the victims of this labor situation, the Mexican workers. Seldom do we go after companies that benefit form this illegal labor, and seldom do we realize how our economy benefits from this cheap supply of labor.

Mexican workers have been used in the United States ever since the United States won the war over Mexico. First, there was a rush to fill the labor needed to build the railway from the United States to Mexico. Thousands of Mexican workers filled that labor gap. Mexican labor was utilized to fill the farm jobs left vacant when the United States government passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882. In times of war, predominantly WWI and WWII, Mexican labor was brought to work in the fields as U.S. soldiers went off to war. Then when the Mexicans had been used to fill our needs, they were blamed for job loses and legal steps were made to exclude them. The Bracero Program passed in 1942 brought more than 4 million Mexican workers for the growing agriculture industry in the West, main California, and for the war effort.

Mexican labor today is also utilized in poultry and pig farms and all sorts of back breaking work. This kind of labor exploitation can easily be labeled “oppression”, and I am sure that ruling white men would be against labor history as well as Mexican-American studies, because labor history discusses oppression of workers by the ruling classes.

Dr. Amster of Prescott College, writing at Truthdig explains their motivation, “There’s a word for what Arizona is attempting to do here: ethnocide.”

Martin Luther King Jr. famously wrote in his landmark essay “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” following the teachings of St. Augustine, that “an unjust law is no law at all.” King further reminds us, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” calling upon us to recognize the interlinked nature of destinies and, indeed, the inherent solidarity of our struggles, and further counsels that in this effort “one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.”

None of the excuses for banning Mexican American studies in Tucson holds up to the reality in the classroom. In Fact, an independent audit of the program found the program didn’t violate the criteria laid out in the law.

No observable evidence exists that instruction within Mexican American Studies Department promotes resentment towards a race or class of people. The auditors observed the opposite, as students are taught to be accepting of multiple ethnicities of people. MASD teachers are teaching Cesar Chavez alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi, all as peaceful protesters who sacrificed for people and ideas they believed in. Additionally, all ethnicities are welcomed into the program and these very students of multiple backgrounds are being inspired and taught in the same manner as Mexican American students. All evidence points to peace as the essence for program teachings. Resentment does not exist in the context of these courses.”

So, fearful people who brought you the war on drugs and the Iraq war are now spreading their paranoia to education to keep information of uncomfortable facts, discrimination against Latinos, from our children. If the truth sets you free, the superintendent and many in the state legislature in Arizona want to imprison our minds.

For more information on defending ethnic studies, visit http://saveethnicstudies.org/meet_us.shtml

Peace,
Tex Shelters

Myths, Misinformation and Falsehoods about the Occupy Movement

In Current Events, Economics, Occupy Movement on December 4, 2011 at 22:53

 

1. The Occupy Movement blames everything on Wall Street. This is false for many reasons. First, there are many culprits in the economic crisis and corporate takeover of government, including the government itself. We understand that. Wall Street is a symbol of excess and corporate dominance of our daily lives, not the only cause. Wall Street is a good rallying point, but if journalists and talking heads would look beyond the surface, they would find more. How about looking at the signs online and stay in your warm offices and you will see signs at Occupy Rallies and elsewhere about many issues.

2. “They have no agenda.”  Josh Barro, a “research scholar” at the right-wing think tank the Manhattan Institute has derided Occupy Wall Street (obviously doing little “research”) for not having an agenda.

But as I wrote in a response to this nonsense in his National Review article,

“You talk to one representative and now you are an expert? Have you been to an encampment or event? There are several clear goals that the Occupy Groups have, and if you had bothered to do research and looked at the various declarations of these groups (online, so you don’t even have to visit a camp to learn) you would find goals such as:

Protect homes from unlawful foreclosures
Repeal Citizens United
Single payer health care
Forgive and reduce student debt obligations
Make college more affordable for families
End foreign wars and bring our troops home
Reinvest in education and infrastructure
End indefinite detentions
Repeal the patriot act
End corporate personhood
and so on.

Perhaps the reason you don’t know of these goals is that you are too lazy to look them up and main stream reporters such as yourself refuse to report on them.

If you want to refute what I say, why not have me debate you and your ignorance.”

Perhaps I am being unfair to him and should forgive his inability to understand a movement that doesn’t fit into his “liberal versus conservative paradigm”, a leaderless movement full of capable people, and a movement that has many goals and objectives but isn’t as narrowly focused as Republican Senators are on bringing down Obama and nothing else.

3. They are all unemployed hippies who are aimless but at the same time violent anarchists, and other demographic falsehoods. The population of the Occupy encampments changes from day to day and city to city. I have seen different surveys of the group, but the highest unemployment stat on the movement I have seen is 30%. We are employed, part time workers, unemployed, retired, homeless, rental unit owners, entrepreneurs, students, vets, and so on.

The actual number of hippies in the movement is quite low, and what’s wrong with hippies anyway? Do hippies make right-wingers uncomfortable or jealous that these reporters and pundits chose a life defending the 1% while hippies are free of such nonsense and don’t have to lie and misrepresent facts for living? I know it’s hard for people in the media to understand that there is not one type of person involved with the Occupy movement, and it makes the movement hard to stereotype. But they keep trying.

4. The Occupy Movement is disorganized. This is false. With few resources and no corporate or political party backing, Occupiers have daily and weekly general assembly meetings. We have declarations, clean camps, feed people, make the media contacts available to us (somehow, the Today Show hasn’t called Occupy Tucson), and so forth. We have no central committee, and I know that is hard to understand for inflexible minds reporting news for the 1%.

Yes, we don’t fit the standard non-profit organization, or the Tea Party (paid for by Koch), but if you go to the camps and talk to the organizers, there is a lot of organization for an underfunded, non-aligned, independent organization. People say we are disorganized because they don’t understand our organization and want to marginalize us.

5.   Occupy Movements caused their own troubles and the violence. Little of the violence was instigated by the protesters, and at least in LA, much of the violence has occurred to Occupiers after they were in custody. To blame movement activists for being violent when they are attacked is like blaming a rape victim, something Republicans and many others have done. Don’t buy it when someone tells you that being hit by batons, or being pepper sprayed or being hit by rubber bullets is the fault of the occupiers. If the police would let us occupy or surrender in peace, there would be little to no violence.

6. We’re Anti-captilist.  Not true. While that may be true for a few, we are all against the rigged system. We are against a system that gives more tax cuts and affords tax loopholes to billionaires and millionaires and increases fees on the lower classes. We are against a system that passes laws to deregulate industries and gives corporate welfare in free rent, under-market prices for mining rights, military projects we don’t need to help contractors profit off of our tax dollars while they target cuts to Social Security, Medicaid, education and other social programs that help the vast majority of the people. We are against the selling off of valuable assets that only benefit the 1% such as the Rosemont Copper mine in Arizona and we are against the selling of our education system for profit while damaging that system.

Many of us own business, promote local enterprises and are for responsible capitalism that doesn’t damage the environment.

Can we ever really understand a movement that is in process, or ever? Only by being at an Occupy rally or meeting can you have the remotest understanding that you will never understand the full implications and people in the movement. We must work for the benefit of 99% forever, whatever the falsehoods told about the Occupy Movement.

Peace,
Tex Shelters

 

 


Fact sheet and news from Occupy Tucson

In Current Events, Economics, Election Politics on October 16, 2011 at 01:22

Occupy Tucson is on! from Anonymous

Occupy Tucson began their campaign at Armory Park today, October 15th, after two weeks of planning and meetings of various working groups such as the legal, PR and outreach, peace keeping, and art groups. About 1000 people over the day attended and about 350 marched orderly through downtown.

“”Everyone’s been very peaceful and cooperative,” said Lieutenant Danny Denogean of the Tucson Police Department, who was onsite at the park. “We don’t anticipate any problems.”” Tucson Police Chief Villasenor stated that the police will keep a low profile and that “We do not want to be the issue that causes the confrontation.” He also said that the protesters would be informed of the laws about park usage, including a 10:30 PM curfew, but that they weren’t prepared to start forcing people out of the park or create hostility. That is still to be seen, but let’s hope that all the outreach and communication we have had with the Tucson Police Department has created some good will and that the police will not create unnecessary conflicts like they have at other Occupy sites.

What follows is a fact sheet regarding economic inequality and corporate and political dominance of our government that has been used for the Occupy Tucson Movement. Hopefully others can use this list of facts to teach others and propel them to push for a change in our system.

Inequity

Record poverty rates:
A record poverty rate for  2010 was recorded at 15.1 percent, 46.2 million people, also a record.
CNN Money. http://money.cnn.com/2011/09/13/news/economy/poverty_rate_income/index.htm

Real Unemployment 16.2%
The real unemployment rate, the official rate plus discouraged workers no long looking for work plus part time workers who want full time work was 16.2% in June.
http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-07-08/markets/30031403_1_timers-workers-bad-number

Black unemployment is nearly double white unemployment and hispanic unemployment is 150% higher than whites. As of September, white unemployment was at 8.7 percent, the Hispanic unemployment rate was at 12.4 percent and the black unemployment rate was at 16.1 percent.
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm

There are 2.3 million Americans in prison, and these prisoners are not counted in the unemployment statistics. We have the highest incarceration rate in the world at 743 per 100,000.
http://www.prisonstudies.org/images/news_events/wppl9.pdf

Lost Wages
Between 1979 and 2007 the average income of the bottom 50 percent of American households grew by 6%; the top 1% saw their income increase by 229 percent.”
http://pr.thinkprogress.org/2008/05/pr20080505

44.2% unemployment for Blacks teenagers 16-19 years of age
http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t02.htm 

Income Gap
The top 1% wealthy people in the U.S. control 34.6% and the top 20% wealthiest people in the U.S. control over 85% of the wealth leaving 15% for the rest of us.  http://sociology.ucsc.edu/whorulesamerica/power/wealth.html

Households have lost $8.7 trillion of wealth since 2007
http://money.cnn.com/2011/06/09/news/economy/household_wealth/index.htm 

Minority Families hit Hardest
From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.
http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/

Lenders foreclosed on 1 million homes in 2010 and 918,000 in 2009
http://www.foreclosurebusinessnews.com/home-foreclosure-statistics-for-first-time-in-history-foreclosures-top-1-million-thats-not-the-worst-of-it/

Wealthy Tax Evasion
One Quarter of Millionaires Pay a Lower Tax Rate than 10 Million Middle-Income Americans
From the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/10/millionaire_fast_facts.html

2/3rds of US Corporations Pay Zero Federal Taxes
http://www.alternet.org/economy/150387/2_3rds_of_us_corporations_pay_zero_federal_taxes%3A_us_uncut_movement_builds_to_make_them_pay_up/

Hoarding
American corporations have $1.8 trillion in reserve cash but Congress won’t raise the marginal tax rates for these companies to help create jobs.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/04/AR2010070403856.html

The 2010 ratio between average worker and average CEO compensation was 325-to-1. CEO pay last year averaged $10,762,304
http://www.ips-dc.org/reports/executive_excess_2011_the_massive_ceo_rewards_for_tax_dodging/

America’s oil, gas and coal industry spent $44.5m in the first three months of 2009 in an effort to stop environmental regulations such as cap and trade.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/may/12/us-climate-bill-oil-gas

So far, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost $2.3-2.7 trillion with no end in sight while teachers are being laid off in every state for lack of funding. 
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/29/us-usa-war-idUSTRE75S25320110629

Political influence

There was $3.5 billion spent lobbying Congress in 2010.
http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/index.php

The Financial Sector has given over $96 million in donations for the 2012 elections, businesses total of over $314 million in donations compared to $15.5 million for labor.
http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/index.php

Candidates for Congress with the most campaign money win over 90% of the time.
http://www.uspirg.org/home/reports/report-archives/campaign-finance-reform/campaign-finance-reform/the-best-elections-money-can-buy

Peace,
Tex “Occupy Tucson” Shelters
We are the 99%

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