Reclaiming the “pro-life” label


I know that I myself am not “anti-life” nor do I know any Democrats who are. Thomas Friedman makes this the topic of his Sunday NY Times editorial.

“Pro-life” can mean only one thing: “respect for the sanctity of life.” And there is no way that respect for the sanctity of life can mean we are obligated to protect every fertilized egg in a woman’s body, no matter how that egg got fertilized, but we are not obligated to protect every living person from being shot with a concealed automatic weapon. I have no respect for someone who relies on voodoo science to declare that a woman’s body can distinguish a “legitimate” rape, but then declares — when 99 percent of all climate scientists conclude that climate change poses a danger to the sanctity of all life on the planet — that global warming is just a hoax.

The term “pro-life” should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Continue reading

MAS teacher describes how TUSD banned The Tempest by Shakespeare from his classroom


It was January 11, 2011, not even a full twenty-four hours after the Tucson Unified School District had voted to dismantle our Mexican American Studies classes in wake of threats from state officials in Arizona to withhold millions of dollars in funding.

I was sitting in the conference room adjacent to the principal’s office with Dr. Abel Morado and Assistant Principal David Mandel and a few colleagues. It’s called the Badger Room. Fans of symbolism may get a kick out of that.

Our administrators were conducting a meeting about the restrictions to our curriculum due to the actions of the governing board.

At this point, the academic tragedy was still fresh and the conversation was more human than it eventually became as the meetings, threats and prohibitions would later be conveyed in a highly dictatorial and hierarchical manner.
Continue reading

Russell Means 1980 cover story


THE ONLY POSSIBLE OPENING FOR a statement like this is that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of “legitimate thinking”: what is written has an importance that is denied the spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily reject writing. It is one of the white world’s ways of destroying the cultures of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I’ve written. It’s what I’ve said and someone else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book.

I don’t really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can only read of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the rule. I’m more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other institutions. But even then it’s a marginal sort of concern. Its very possible to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if thats a person’s individual choice, so be it, but I have no use for them.

This is part of the process of cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed…

via “I Am Not a Leader”: Russell Means 1980 Mother Jones Cover Story | Mother Jones.

Should wealthy districts get $2000 more per student than poor districts, because they do


More than a dozen attorneys representing about 600 Texas school districts laid out their case on Monday that the state education funding system is inefficient, outmoded and favors wealthy districts over poor ones. They contend that over time, the system has eroded many students’ chances of getting a good education. Five other cases have alleged as much since the 1980s.

Marisa Bono is a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), which represents some of the state’s poorest districts. This time, she says, tougher achievement tests and graduation requirements are shedding new light on long-time problems.

Plaintiffs’ attorneys said wealthy districts collect about $2,000 more per student per year than poor districts. Cortez says that, combined with the state’s education budget cuts, means many districts are struggling.

via A Crowded Courtroom for Day One of TX School Funding Lawsuit.

Is it up to Latinos to fix Arizona’s xenophobic image?


This is where we have arrived in Arizona. We are not known for forward-thinking politicians and policies. Instead, we have media-hungry characters and divisive initiatives. This is our state’s reputation, not only in California and the rest of the country, but abroad.

The world knows Arizona for its anti-immigrant and anti-Latino policy fomented in recent years by not only by Brewer and Arpaio but by former state Sen. Russell Pearce of Mesa, who was recalled and lost his bid to return to public office.

But how did we get to this point where the nation and the world look at us as a bitter and angry state looking for ways to criticize immigrants and Latinos?

Even before Brewer and SB 1070, Arizona voters in 2000 passed a law that eliminated bilingual education in public schools. More recently, the state banned the Mexican-American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District, under the accusation that its ethnically diverse students from Tucson, Cholla, Pueblo and Rincon high schools were learning how to hate their country.

The cumulative effect of these laws has created an environment of blame and rejection. Latinos, whether we are citizens, legal residents or undocumented, are the source of the state’s ills.

Unemployment? Crime? Drug trafficking? Even littering, Latinos are mostly responsible for these and other problems in Arizona, so claim the accusers.

More than absurd, it is insulting.

via Neto’s Tucson: Latinos must engage to counter AZ’s sorry image.