Jon Wiener: Arizona Ethnic Studies Ban Defended by Fox News

Roundup: Historians' Take

[Jon Wiener teaches US history at UC Irvine. His most recent book is Historians in Trouble.]

It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it: defend the new Arizona law that bans ethnic studies in public schools. Fox News anchor Greta van Susteren took on the task, with predictable results....

What exactly is wrong with Arizona schools offering Chicano Studies classes? Van Susteren asked Tom Horne, Arizona superintendent of public instruction, who sponsored the bill and who is running for state attorney general (you may be able to guess his political party).

The problem, Horne said, is that when schools offer Ethnic Studies courses to students, “they're dividing them up just like the old South.”

Well, not really: the problem with the old South was not that black students took black studies classes for an hour a day; the problem was that black students were prohibited by law from attending white schools. The problem was that all black students were sent to separate black schools which were inferior to the white schools....

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