How is 2011 faring so far? Ethnic studies and the 14th amendment

From the Restore Fairness blog-

At this moment it is very hard to focus on anything but the tragic incident that marked the beginning of this year when a man in Tucson, Arizona opened fire on a public meeting killing 6 people and gravely injuring 14 others last Saturday. While this tragedy cannot be undone, there are a number of issues around which we can hope for some positive developments in 2011.

In Arizona, the first week of 2011 saw all classes in the Tucson Unified School District’s Mexican-American ethnic studies program being declared illegal by the State of Arizona, in accordance with a state law came into effect on January 1st. Tom Horne, Arizona’s newly elected Attorney General, declared the program illegal on account of it allegedly teaching Latino students that are being mistreated, and encouraging the students to become activists for their race. In the capacity of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Horne had written the law challenging the ethnic studies program last year. The bill, HB 2291, was passed by the State Legislature in April and signed into law by Gov. Jan Brewer in May of 2010. Defending his latest action deeming that the Tucson district’s Mexican-American program was not in compliance with state standards, (while allowing similar programs for black, Asian and Native America students to continue) Horne said that “They teach kids that they are oppressed, that the United States is dominated by a white, racist, imperialist power structure that wants to oppress them.” Under the law, Tucson would stand to lose 10 percent of its state education funds if the classes are not discontinued, amounts to nearly $15 million.

According to Augustine F. Romero, director of student equity in Tucson schools, the debate over the ethnic studies program demonstrates the strong anti-Latino sentiment in the state, and highlights the pressing need for such programs to continue to exist, giving the students a chance to be proud of their heritage. Mr. Romero posed the question in an interview with the New York Times-

Who are the true Americans here — those embracing our inalienable rights or those trying to diminish them?

In an even deeper affront to inalienable American values, on January 5th, a coalition of legislators from over 14 states announced a plan to join together in a state compact and deny citizenship rights to the children of undocumented immigrants. The compact, clearly motivated by anti-immigrant feeling, is designed to challenge the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution which states that those born in the United States will be considered U.S. citizens, irrespective of race, class or creed. This was closely matched by Rep. Steve King’s introduction of legislation H.R. 140 before the new session of Congress, aimed to take away the citizenship of children born in the U.S. to parents who were undocumented.

The state compact is being led by Senator Russell Pearce of Arizona, the state Senator best known for introducing the controversial and harsh anti-immigrant law, SB1070 in 2010. The legislators that introduced the plan unveiled a plan that seeks to take birthright citizenship, which is a Federal issue, into state hands by establishing state citizenship laws that deny citizenship rights to those born to parents who are undocumented, and then developing a compact between the various states by which the laws are upheld in all those states. The group claims that their model state legislation aims to halt the “misapplication of the 14th amendment,” which they say is sapping taxpayers funds and attracting further immigration to the U.S. Ultimately, the goal of the coordinated state-level strategy is to force the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

The plan is a joint effort of anti-immigration legislators like Russell Pearce and Kansas Secretary of State-elect Kris Kobach, and State Legislators for Legal Immigration, an anti-immigration group of lawmakers which had representatives from Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah. Senator Pearce told the Washington Times-

I’m not stopping until the problem is solved, and clearly the problem is not solved. The cost is destroying this country, and it can no longer be ignored…The 14th Amendment was never intended to be applied to illegal aliens. They [the sponsors] specifically said it didn’t apply to foreigners or aliens. That amendment belongs to the African-Americans of this country. It’s their amendment.

Critics are suggesting that in fact, the proposal is completely unconstitutional and deliberately misunderstands the 14th amendment. By suggesting a two-tiered system of citizenship by which those who are born to parents who are undocumented receive different birth certificates than those who are born in the U.S. to parents who are legal residents, the compact goes against the fundamental values of the constitution. Elizabeth Wydra, writing for Politico, sums it up clearly-

The 14th Amendment, which was drafted and ratified against a backdrop of prejudice against newly freed slaves and various immigrant communities, was added to the Constitution to place the question of who should be a citizen beyond the politics and prejudices of the day. The big idea behind the 14th Amendment is that all people are born equal, and, if born in the United States, are born equal citizens — regardless of color, creed or social status. It is no exaggeration to say that the 14th Amendment is the constitutional embodiment of the Declaration of Independence and lays the foundation for the American Dream. Because of the 14th Amendment, all American citizens are equal and equally American. Whether one’s parents were rich or poor, saint or sinner, an American child will be judged by his or her own deeds.

As long as the Federal government avoids enacting a comprehensive reform of the existing immigration system and dealing with an issue that is in their jurisdiction, restrictionists will continue to introduce laws that threaten the fabric of the United States. At the start of this year, as we hope that Rep. Giffords recovers her health, we must recall the values of equality, dignity and respect that are intrinsic to the strength of this country and remember that when we deny human rights to some, we jeopardize the rights of all.

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A gift from two friends.

This is about my friends, how amazing they are to me.  

My new friend:

I recently posted about a community whose rights are routinely ignored, stripped and abused.  I took a risk in writing it because I know very little about the community.  I spoke about what I do know; about my belief that the law works for everyone or it works for no one.  I have no friends, no family, no coworkers in this group of people.  Yet, as a human being, a father and a citizen I have reached a point where I can no longer sit by while others are bullied simply because they are different and fewer in numbers.  So, I spoke out from my heart that how we the large groups treat the smaller, how the strong treat the weak yields a foul harvest for all of us. 

(Cross posted at The National Gadfly)

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Implicit Association

Don't you hate feeling like someone's "looking down" on you? Well, you know who looks down on almost everybody? Tall people. Think about it.

I'm serious. Why is a term that refers to looking down from a physical difference in height equated with condescension or perhaps even sneering? Why does it infer the superiority (height reference) of the person doing the looking over the lowly (height reference) person who's the object of their gaze?

That might seem like meaningless word play. But then consider this:

"... In the U.S. population, about 14.5 percent of all men are six feet or taller. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58 percent. Even more striking, in the general American population, 3.9 percent of adult men are six foot two or taller. Among my CEO sample, almost a third were six foot two or taller. ..." - Malcolm Gladwell, Blink

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Hit a Jew Day

(crossposted at kos)

Though I barely write any diarys or comments, I didn't see this anywhere and I'm still getting my mind around it.

A little bit of background...I grew up and still live in the St Louis area.  We don't have much of a Jewish community.  I remember when I was in school (in the 80's), there was only one Jewish girl in my class (that I knew of).  Religious diversity is not very common here.

Tonight I was making dinner, half paying attention to the local news, when I heard something that I was just sure couldn't be true.  After dinner, I went to my computer and looked it up. of our local middle schools had spirit week this week and one of their special days was "hit a Jew day".

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Adventures in Hypocrisy

One of the most unexpected results of stumbling though middle age is what I like to call adventures in hypocrisy. Hypocrisy as defined by Webster's ( a beaten up copy from college that is always close at hand )... Hypocrisy- The professing of publicly approved qualities,beliefs, or feelings that one does not really possess. I'm new to the internet community and often have to rely on my daughter to help me with this marvelous and baffling tool. The idea of engaging in meaningful and often funny dialogue about politics and other things has been liberating. One of the greatest gifts of this volatile election cycle for me has been confronting and re-evaluating thoughts and beliefs that I certainly thought I had settled. Sometimes being slapped in the face by another adolescent piece of myself at my age, makes me want jump under the bed in embarassment. I take solace in constantly remembering two things. These are Socrates and the character of Archie Bunker. I happen to believe that if Socrates had been alive in the 1970's, All in the Family would have been his favorite show. The most famous artifact we have to remember the great philosopher is the principal he willingly died for. " The unexamined life is not worth living "

 This was the fundamental principal by which he lived and taught. Socrates was the epitome of a classic liberal, always uncertain and sceptical of those who were. He would have delighted in watching Bunker stumble through a constant assault on the fallacies of his ignorance and bigotry. Bunker is forced to confront his defense of opinions and beliefs that inhibit the human spirit. The genius of the show was how we all get to identify with watching a certain man realize that nothing is as he thought it was, and that people are much more complicated than the comfortable stereotypes that are the foundation of bigotry. Bunker needs these people as we all do to continue to grow in mind and spirit. The examined life cannot be examined alone, and often I am humbled in front of witnesses, particularly my daughter. I have often had to confront my " Inner Bunker ", that toddler who lives inside me that is often bewildered and embarrassed by having to grow up and learn. Confronting my "Inner Bunker", especially when I thought it was gone, or wished it was quiet has been often searing and funny. Sometimes the things that come out of my mouth are truly astonishing in their ignorance, and the greatest road to humility and enlightenment is not contemplating my navel and pondering the universe. The quickest road to enlightenment is to have an astute companion, or witness if you like, especially effective if I'm working hard to seem impressive and all knowing. This is what has prompted me to write these diaries, as I take comfort in Socrates' simple and wonderfully effective design; that of the dialogue.

  Obama's political campaign has challenged me once again to examine the comfy chair of liberalism that had once again had begun to suffocate me with the comfortable and certain atrophy of self satisfaction. Once again I'm in the thick soup of my own ignorance and or liberal smugness, as I was certain I had solved that tricky issue or answred another difficult question. Hypocrisy is really one of the easiest sins to overcome. The antidote is simple, and it is honest reflection. Hurts like hell sometimes, but the beauty of mid life reflection is surrendering to the inevitiblity of it. The distance that mid life allows when examining life and how I do my life is a remarkable tool. Finally I understand so much better the elders of my youth and have more compassion for the young coming after. Obama has dragged me into the issues of race and prejudice and although I don't like being kicked out of my comfy chair; I've decided that it's good for me even if like medicine it does'nt taste good. My daughter and I have been talking alot about prejudice as she completes her journey through high school. She challenges my "Inner Bunker" because she often is quicker to recognize it than I am. She has a brilliant method that she has honed since a toddler. She simply does that Socratic thing and asks "Why? and How come ", and it is my answres that she challenges, not because she is disagreeable, but because she is learning and has been encouraged by her liberal mom to do the Socratic thing.

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