The Librotraficante Oppression Detection Kit

May 15, 2013
10:15 AM

California. Proposition 187. Pete Wilson.
Arizona. HB2811. Jan Brewer.
Texas. HB1938. Giovanni Capriglione.
Texas. SB1128. Dan Patrick.

The Librotraficante Movement is thrilled to announce that America can erase the last two entries from the above list of oppressive laws attacking our culture.

Texas Republican Senator Dan Patrick introduced SB1128, and Texas Republican House of Representative Giovanni Capriglione introduced HB1938 the first day of Spring Break 2013.  They must not have realized that the Librotraficante Movement spends Spring Break defying oppression. Last year we organized the Librotraficante Caravan to Smuggle books banned in Arizona back to Arizona, and this year we defended Ethnic Studies in our own backyard.

We formed a Texas-wide coalition that fought against HB1938 & SB1128, which would have discredited Ethnic Studies at Texas state colleges and universities and effectively eliminate Mexican American, African American, and Women’s Studies programs, among others.  Both bills are now dead.

Tony Diaz (Credit: Cody Duty/Chronicle)

Tony Diaz (Credit: Cody Duty/Chronicle)

You can find out more about our work and strategies by visiting the website: We will leave it up as a testament to this stage of the Civil Rights Movement that we and many others are a part of. Check it out sooner than later before hackers attack it the way the Librotraficante website regularly gets attacked.

In terms of the legacy of the current Civil Rights Movement, I have no doubt that our brothers and sisters in Arizona will be victorious. It will be a powerful example of Poetic Justice in Democracy when the only Latina Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor signs the majority opinion overturning Arizona House Bill 2811 signed into law by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, and used as the legal trigger to prohibit Mexican American Studies in Arizona.

These tactics are straight out of the Arizona Republican Play Book. The Far Right’s Anti-immigrant Movement is well known, and even addressed in the Republican Party’s Growth and Opportunity Report. However, they have not openly discussed, admitted to, or renounced the Far Right Attack on Ethnic Studies. We are providing you with an overview of  some of strategies used to attack Ethnic Studies indirectly. But the end result is the same: the dismantling of Ethnic Studies courses that have stemmed the drop out rate; an attack on Critical Thinking; and a trampling of the intellectual landscape of America.

The Far Right Template for Attacking Ethnic Studies

  1. Vague Laws
  2. Code Words
  3. Micromanaging Classrooms
  4. Doughnut Hole Legislation
  5. Bogus Reports
  6. Deny, Deny, Deny

Vague Laws: Anti-ethnic Studies bill are vague and the target is hidden, and the target is Mexican American Studies. Even as the Arizona Supreme Court condoned AZHB2281, it was pointed out that the law was so vague that it was unconstitutional.

AZHB2281 never even mentions Mexican American Studies.  Of course, once we are out of the way, the other Ethnic Studies shall fall, too. However, we are suffering the brunt of the attack. Once our programs are eliminated, the rules are set to eliminate all other Ethnic Studies and Women Studies, or never implement them. This is also part of an attack on “Critical Thinking” which the Texas 2012 G.O.P. Platform is very honest about.

Code Words: Here are some code words and phrases to look for.  These are direct quotations from the 2012 Texas G.O.P. Platform that appear again and again and again in Anti-Ethnic Studies legislation or justify such bills.

“We favor strengthening our common American identity and loyalty instead of political correctness that nurtures alienation among racial and ethnic groups.”

“We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs …”

“We believe the current teaching of a multicultural curriculum is divisive.”

You might be a conservative, but you aren’t an Arizona Republican, are you?

Micromanaging Classrooms: It’s odd that the Republican Party used to advocate smaller government. Anti-ethnic Studies policies strive to legislate the books we can put into students hands. This was the case in Arizona and in Texas.

An editorial against HB1938 and SB1128 by the San Antonio Express News Editorial Board put it best:

The Legislature should leave the content of Texas college courses alone.

Micromanaging education from the peanut gallery is hazardous.

Repeated attempts over the years by some members of the State Board of Education to impose their ideologies into the textbooks being used in Texas classrooms made the state a laughingstock of the nation on more than one occasion.

Doughnut Hole Legislation: One of my opinion piece states the following:

Arizona Republicans fine-tuned this tactic, creating “doughnut hole legislation” to attack ethnic studies.

Teachers are the targets of the attack; rather than attacking them directly, however, laws are enacted to surround them and pressure them into compliance.

Dan Patrick’s SB 1128 is doughnut hole legislation, and the NAS report reveals that professors are, indeed, the target.

The report states: “We looked at the assigned readings for each course and the research interests of the forty-six faculty members who taught them. We also compared faculty members’ research interests with the readings they chose to assign.”

One of the most alarming lines from the report is the following: “We classified faculty members assigning primarily high RCG readings as “high assigners” of RCG materials.” (RCG refers to race, class and gender.)

Bogus Reports: AZHB2811 was created to prohibit courses that promote the overthrow of the government? Who even worries about that? Besides, we already have a Sedition Law that prevents individuals from promoting the overthrow of the government. Why do we need a Sedition Law for academic courses? How do you even put a school course on trial? Oh, I guess you can’t. Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court will throw out that law, even though it might take another 3 to 5 years and half a million to a million dollars.

Just as illogical, TX HB1938 & SB1128 were based on a report written by the National Association of Scholars. The report is titled: “Recasting History: Are Race, Class & Gender Dominating American History?”

Page 18 of this report slams professors for  talking too much about race, class, and gender when discussing the following American Classics:

  • the life story of Jackie Robinson
  • the “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass”
  • “Women’s Rights Emerges with the Antislavery Movement”
  • “César Chávez and La Cause.”

The sense that makes is nonsense.

Deny, Deny, Deny:  To this day, the Far Right G.O.P. Regime denies that books have been banned in Arizona. It will be up to the Supreme Court to convince them of that. Likewise, in Texas, the Republican legislators who proposed HB1938 and SB1128 deny that they wanted to attack Ethnic Studies. I can’t tell you what is in these legislators’ hearts, but I can tell you what was in their bills.  These bills would lead to the demise of Ethnic Studies. We must nip these oppressive laws in the bud. It’s much harder for them to be taken off the books. We are glad we were able to prevent mini-Jan Brewers from sprouting in Texas. But we must remain vigilant.

Here is a link to the Tucson Unified School District denying that they have banned books. However, they do admit that they walked into classrooms during class time and in front of our young, boxed up books by our most beloved authors.

And here is just one quote that is a testament to the Doublespeak that George Orwell warned us about:

“NONE of the above books have been banned by TUSD. Each book has been boxed and stored as part of the process of suspending the classes. The books listed above were cited in the ruling that found the classes out of compliance with state law.”

Now back to Texas and Doublespeak with a drawl.

A few quick facts: No one ever showed us the “Comprehensive American History Course” the bills and the Republican legislators were advocating. However, they would go into effect in just four months if the law were passed.

Also, when asked what brought this issue to his attention, Representative Capriglione did not refer to the NAS report although the author and champions of the bill were sitting behind him and about to testify. However, he did cite Jay Leno’s “Jaywalking” Segment as proof that Texas college students did not know enough about U.S. History.

Here is one last quote from the NAS report:

“The kinds of courses that Librotraficante is concerned about will most likely, if the bill is passed, still continue to be offered at Texas public universities as electives. The only change would be that they would not count toward the state U.S. history requirement in general education.”

If discrediting our History is not a big deal, then I suggest that Representative Capriglione’s “Jaywalking Comprehensive History Course” be an elective. We would at least get to see the content of the course, and then we can get a better idea of what is the in the minds, hearts, and imaginations of the Far Right.

HB1938 would have taken U.S. History back to 1938 before Ethnic Studies existed. I’m so proud of everyone who stood up for Critical Thinking, Ethnic Studies, and Intellectual Freedom. We look forward to uniting with you as we continue to educate and fight.