Last week’s memorial service in Tucson, which began with a blessing by a professor of Yaqui Indian and Mexican heritage, showcased Arizona’s rich diversity as well as the love and tolerance of many of its citizens.
Unfortunately there is another Arizona, one where its state government all too often promotes discord and intolerance. This was painfully clear in the state’s immigration law, which empowers the police to demand the papers of suspected illegal immigrants. And it is painfully clear in a new education law that injects nativist fears directly into the public school classroom.
The law, which took effect Dec. 31, bans any courses or classes that “promote resentment toward a race or class of people” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” Arizona’s new attorney general, Tom Horne, immediately used it to declare illegal a Mexican-American ethnic-studies program in the Tucson Unified School District.
Mr. Horne, who wrote the law when he was superintendent of public instruction, accused the program of “brainwashing” Latino students, of teaching “ethnic chauvinism” because it uses works by authors critical of the United States’ historical relationship with Latin America and its past treatment of Latinos. He has not gone after similar programs for black, Asian or American Indian students.