Total Pageviews

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Iraq War: Reaffirmation or the End of U.S. Exceptionalism?

Iraq War: Reaffirmation or the End of US Exceptionalism?
by Roberto Rodriguez

In the United States, the most significant event of 2011 hands down should have been the withdrawal of the last U.S. troops from Iraq. But for most Americans, the end of this illegal and immoral war and occupation hardly registers a ripple.

The reason: the continued belief in American exceptionalism.

In the United States, only U.S. casualties matter. According to the Iraq Coalition Count, almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers perished during the war and slightly more than 32,000 U.S. soldiers were officially listed as wounded. No U.S. agency officially keeps track of Iraqi numbers.

Not counting “enemy” casualties seems to be the ultimate form of dehumanization (The non-governmental Iraq Body Count group officially lists between 104,308 – 113,962 Iraqi documented deaths). That’s the point of a war; dehumanize and demonize the enemy. No need to count them because they are not worthy of being identified or even acknowledged.

In Iraq, we were able to witness, from start to finish, the ushering in of a preemptive and unjustified illegal war, by the United States, sans legal consequences for those who engineered this massive crime against humanity. We learned, during this same time, that society takes more seriously the lives of dogs (Quarterback Michael Vick was imprisoned for cruelty to animals) than the lives of Iraqis.

In the U.S. narrative – as repeated in U.S. media – this war was waged to prevent Iraq from terrorizing the world, never mind that all the “evidence” was trumped up. It is mind-boggling the notion of killing and maiming untold tens of thousands of Iraqis and displacing hundreds of thousands of them, and for U.S. politicians to continue to invoke notions of U.S. sacrifice and heroic deeds in the same breath. All this at the cost of a trillion dollars, not counting future costs.

This is how national myths are created. Coupled with the rise of “The Homeland,” since 2001, the United States now shares the ideological space of dictatorships: Everything for the homeland. That was a deft psychological maneuver. Despite being the world’s sole superpower, the United States, with colonial/immigrant roots, could not previously claim a “homeland.” Now, it’s the mother’s milk of politicians: Enter the Homeland Security industry.

This has led to the exponential growth of the U.S. military machine, for permanent preemptive wars to be fought overseas and at home. In fact, especially with the use of drone technology, the entire world has now become a battlefield, including the United States, obviating the need for trials, etc. The mantra now is that the homeland must also be protected with militarized walls and fences, border patrols, and drone technology.

This “need” to protect the homeland against evildoers at all costs gave rise to the unquestioned post-2001 logic of: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” Such logic caused many of us to willingly sacrifice our rights and freedoms. If truth was the first casualty, the U.S. Constitution was the second. But this is not logic; it is evidence that the entire nation appears to live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Either that, or that it is soulless. Not the entire nation, but the merchants of war that have exploited fear and hate.

In the United States, for the past 10 years, the Black Man has gotten a short reprieve; now, it is the fear and hate of brown men, women and children that is driving this frenzied effort to “protect the homeland.” But there has been no reprieve because in the largest penal system in the world (upwards of 2 million inmates), the inmates are primarily black and brown. There is a direct connection between permanent war, “the homeland,” the expansion and privatization of the U.S. penal system, the criminalization of youths of color and the degradation of both the U.S. Constitution and human rights worldwide.

All is not hopeless. Domestically, the Occupy Movement is proof that the 99% are no longer falling for the logic of the 1%. And in Arizona, the ultimate symbols of “Homeland Security,” state senate president, Russell Pearce, has been recalled while his political twin, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is reeling from a series of Justice Department investigations that have found his department guilty of engaging in egregious racial profiling. His days are numbered.

In the bigger scheme of things, both are small potatoes. If the World Court were to affirm that there is no statute of limitations for starting illegal wars and indict those that engineered the Iraq War (The Bush-Cheney cabinet, those who made off with book deals as opposed to trials at the Hague), perhaps the world can begin to have a conversation about justice and “American exceptionalism.” It might even prevent further preemptive wars.
Roberto Rodriguez

Roberto Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona and a member of the Mexican American Studies Community Advisory Board, can be reached at:

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Arizona's Experiment with Democracy: In Recovery!

One of these two is Pearce and one of these two is a known supremacist.

Russell Pearce Gets trounced!
End of Story... or perhaps beginning of new story for the residents of Arizona.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Arizona's Experiment in Democracy Failing... Badly

Column of the Americas

Arizona's Experiment in Democracy Failing... Badly

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

The experiment in Democracy seems to be failing badly in Arizona. Here, government, the state legislature, law enforcement, the educational system, the courts and the media are a testament to this colossal failure. Here, rampant hate and bigotry starts at the top and here, it is government by [ugly] mob rule.

A court proceeding earlier this month in Phoenix – with a decision expected any day now – attests to this experiment gone awry; the court hearing was as absurd as the daily Kangaroo trials in Tucson known as Operation Streamline (70 migrants are charged, tried, convicted and sentenced in one hour). This Phoenix proceeding was part of an appeals process, being held to determine whether Tucson’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) Department is out of compliance with HB 2281, the state’s anti Ethnic Studies or mind control measure. The program graduates nearly 100% of its students and sends over 70% percent of them to college. Yet, these phenomenal accomplishments are of little consequence for those trying to eliminate it.

This last hearing featured a formidable sounding state witness, Dr. Sandra Stotsky. She testified that multiculturalism is harmful to students. Upon review of MAS curriculum materials, she testified that she saw no evidence that MAS students are being reminded of the virtues of being American citizens (her specialty is teaching the virtues of democracy to students in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe). Her very presence, given her expertise, gave off a disturbing message. She made the further assessment that MAS students were being taught to resent whites [HB 2281 bans classes that teach resentment, create ethnic solidarity and that promote segregation).

Her testimony sounded very damaging to the MAS cause… until she was cross-examined. She readily acknowledged that she was not an expert in Ethnic Studies, Mexican American Studies or Critical Race Theory. She further revealed that she had never set foot in an MAS classroom nor had she ever spoken with an MAS teacher or student, nor read MAS books, though she claimed to be familiar with some of them.

Upon making these acknowledgements, the erudite-sounding scholar and the state’s star witness was thanked and asked to step down.

At the previous hearing, the director of MAS-TUSD, Sean Arce, was forced to defend the MAS curriculum in a manner comparable to the 1950s McCarthy hearings. [Indigenous] knowledge itself was on trial. The proceedings were actually closer to an Inquisition; they were about what can be taught inside of Arizona’s K-12 classrooms. Books, authors and even classroom posters (“Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim”) were on trial.

Glaringly absent was any mention of the independent Cambium Study, which was commissioned by State Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Huppenthal. It found MAS-TUSD to be in compliance with HB 2281. Despite this, Huppenthal rejected the findings and declared MAS to be out of compliance. This is what triggered the appeals hearings. Inexplicably, neither the Cambium authors, nor Huppenthal, were called to the stand.

TUSD superintendent, John Pedicone, however was. He testified that there were things that bothered him about the curriculum, but admitted that he saw nothing illegal. Eerily, no one was there to ask him why he ordered the May 3rd school board meeting militarized, at which time the neighborhood and TUSD headquarters were occupied by riot officers, students and elders were arrested inside the meeting (some were physically thrown out of the building) and youths outside were beaten.

The hearings revealed that beyond Tucson’s MAS program, it is the discipline, and by extension, a people and their right to history, culture and memory that have [again] been put on trial. Also revealed is that MAS stands accused of being outside of civilization and specifically, outside of Western Civilization, in effect, that its knowledge-base does not concur with the U.S. Master Narrative of history.

Actually, that is not in dispute; MAS’s philosophical foundation is in fact derived from the ancient maiz-based cultures of Abya Yalla or Cemanahuac [Americas], as opposed to Greco-Roman culture. This begs the question: since when is having a different cultural, historical and intellectual tradition, grounds for an intellectual execution?

While the decision is expected in mid-November, it is actually Huppenthal, who campaigned to “Stop La Raza,” that will render the final verdict. If he rules against TUSD, look for MAS to be openly taught in front of the capitol and other state buildings. The suggestion that the MAS curriculum be remanded to the home is an idea that is so 500 years ago.

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: or

Column of the Americas
PO BOX 3812
Tucson, AZ 85722



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Open Letter from Tucson: Arizona is burning

Arizona is bleeding - Arizona is under full-scale assault

In this God-forsaken state, Ethnic Cleansing (SB 1070 and related measures) is the order of the day. Cultural genocide (HB 2281) is also under way. For an update on what has been occurring here lately, go to:

This letter, in particular is about a very special community in Tucson: Calpolli Teoxicalli.

They have been at every protest, at every march, rally and every vigil over the past several years. They have been there when our community has been arrested and assaulted. More than participate and more than being present, they have gone beyond responding, as that is but one small part of their work.

The Calpolli, while relatively young, has taken the responsibility of providing the cultural and traditional foundation for this community. Most people don’t know this, but it is students who have led the movement to defend Mexican American Studies since 2006. And it is the students who have time and again, turned to the Calpolli. A large part of the effort has involved ceremonial running to strengthen our community in struggle.

In June 2009, when all seemed lost, students and our community turned to Calpolli Texicalli to lead us in a run from Tucson to Phoenix in 115-degree heat. That run was for ourselves, to give us internal strength. That run resulted both in victory (the bill was dropped that same day that we arrived to the capitol), but more importantly, it is when we began to understand our own [spiritual] power.

Ever since then, the barrio runs have continued in support not just of Mexican American Studies or Indigenous Studies, but also in support of the overall health of the community. We have had runs to promote health (combating obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer… including also against domestic violence).

In the process of all this, two vans have been used for this work. One van, has been used at every run without ever compensating the driver for gas or use (or broken windshields). The other vehicle has involved the family vehicle(s) of Chucho Ruiz and Maria Molina. Their van recently broke down.

This letter is to see if our larger community can help the Calpolli (our local community has been bled dry by all our battles). We know that others might instead want to donate to Save Ethnic Studies, and people should and are welcome to do so, but it is important that the Calpolli also be supported as they carry out invaluable work in this community (I am not a member of the Calpolli, but I do run with them). Please consider supporting the Calpolli.

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Prof. University of Arizona

If you would like to assist you can make a donation through one of the following:
1. Donate Using PayPal

If link not active, copy and paste:

2. Get your car washed on Saturday, November 5th starting at 9am at Pepboys on 6th Ave and 23rd St Tucson

3. Or contact Norma Gonzalez-

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I am writing to inform you that as part of my Introduction to Mexican American
Studies 265 class at the University of Arizona, my students will be putting out
the third issue of El Coraje, a Tucson newspaper from the 1960s, revived two
years ago by my students in another MAS course. As a result of budget cutbacks
to universities nationwide, we have to rely on donations to do this kind of
work. The objective of El Coraje is for students to inform the university and
community regarding the vibrant culture of Mexican Americans/Latinas/Latinos in

If you can donate, please take the following steps:


We are accepting gifts from $50 to $100 or more, or whatever amount you wish.
The estimated budget that needs to be raised for the special projects for this
class, which includes a special issue of El Coraje, is $2,000. We hope to reach
that through generous contributions like yours. The donation is tax-deductible.
Send electronically or by check via mail.

ELECTRONICALLY: To make your contribution with a credit card (Visa, Mastercard,
American Express, Discover), please follow these directions:

1) Click on the link below

This will take you to the SBS, UA Foundation Website. It is a secured site.

2) Please fill out your billing and payment information. This is needed to
properly send you a receipt for tax purposes. Fill out the additional security
code, and click on the "Donate Now" button at the bottom of the page.

3) Lastly, for our accounting records and to make sure your contribution reaches
our Department, please email Veronica Peralta at with
your name, address, and amount given. No other information is needed.


Make check payable to: The University of Arizona Foundation. In the memo line,
MAS R. Rodriguez Events. Please mail it to:

Mexican American Studies
Attn: Veronica Peralta
Cesar Chavez, Room 208
PO BOX 210023
Tucson AZ 85721-0023
If questions re donations: VPERALTA@EMAIL.ARIZONA.EDU or 520-626-8139.

Thanks in advance

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Assistant professor
Cesar Chavez Bldg
PO BOX 210023
Tucson AZ 85721

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A letter to Birmingham...

Column of the Americas

A letter to Birmingham: From the anti-Mexican State of Arizona

Dear Birmingham…

I write this to you from Tucson, Arizona, from a state synonymous with dehumanization and racial profiling, from a land of fear and hate. Birmingham, I think you know what I speak of. But don’t think I am alluding to your past; also today.

HB 56, the bill that your state legislature recently passed and that your governor signed, is being touted as the toughest anti-immigrant bill in the country, one that was affirmed by a U.S. District judge this September. This measure requires school officials to act as immigration agents and permits police officers to detain people without bail, based merely on suspicion of being in the country illegally. That it has fomented hate and caused panic and fear was the point, wasn’t it?

You might be wondering why someone from Arizona would be writing to a Southern city? The answer is simple; Birmingham represents memory; it is etched into the psyche of the nation. It is also seared into Tucson’s memory, not just because many of us from the U.S. Southwest also lived through the civil rights era, but also because on May 3 of this year, one of our elders in our community was arrested for attempting to read the “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” by Martin Luther King Jr. This occurred during a school board meeting, this in the midst of a hostile anti-Mexican, anti-Indigenous and anti-immigrant atmosphere in this state.

Here we have our own Bull Conner; Sheriff Joe Arpaio – the same Sheriff who unapologetically proclaimed on CNN that it was an honor to be compared with the KKK (11/12/07). Here, we also have Tom Horne, former state schools superintendent, who has long invoked the memory of MLK Jr., in his six-year effort to eliminate Ethnic Studies. He claims that doing so would constitute the fulfillment of MLK’s Dream. His successor, John Huppenthal, campaigned on the promise to “Stop ‘La Raza’. ” That is his dream. Against all evidence, he is conducting a modern-day Inquisition into Tucson’s Mexican American Studies K-12 department, attempting to prove its maize-based curriculum is anti-American.

In Tucson, our struggle is not simply about the right of our students to learn Mexican American history, language and culture, but even more so, our struggle here is about the right of everyone to be treated as full human beings. Indeed, this is something that you, Birmingham, know all too well. Last month signaled your grand return to the world stage of dehumanization; it’s as if you had been waiting some 50 years to breathe uninhibited, able once again to exhale the fumes of racial supremacy. This is something you haven’t been able to do since the courts and the civil rights movement forced you to cease your legalized discrimination against African Americans. But your fight is not really with brown people; it’s just about enforcing the law, right?

Please note that in Arizona, we don’t refer to dehumanizing measures that violate the rights of human beings as laws. Yet, this is beyond how we characterize this new bigotry; we are conscious that Mexicans in many parts of the country are viewed and treated as less than human. The following quote by Otto Santa Ana, in Brown Tide Rising, explains this bias: “Only humans have human rights.” I am certain that African Americans in the South understand this well.

Here, we have heard your governor, Robert Bentley, brag about the toughness of HB 56. Truthfully, there’s a bit of racial nostalgia and wistfulness communicated in his voice, projecting the sublime and whispered wish: “If we could only also apply these laws to our Black population too.” Am I mistaken, or is he not the same governor who in January proclaimed that only people who believe in Jesus Christ are his brothers and sisters.

As such, I don’t have to wonder what he thinks of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and Jews. But forgive me if this causes me to question whether he considers African Americans, American Indians, Arab Americans and Mexicans as his true brothers and sisters too. As long as they are “legal”?

Birmingham, is this how you wish to be known and remembered? As a place that in the 21st century openly and legally dehumanizes its brown populations?

Birmingham, do you think the world actually believes you when you say you have nothing against brown people, Mexicans or immigrants – that your only beef is with “illegal aliens?” Do you think your ability to discern is credible? Isn’t that like dehumanizing African Americans, but hiding behind “states rights.” Wasn’t slavery and segregation legal in your state, in this country?

So Birmingham, yes, please lecture us on “the rule of law.” And keep listening to your governor, because we here in Arizona are certainly paying close attention. Here are his words in reaction to the judge’s ruling: “…this fight is just beginning… I will continue to fight at every turn to defend this law against any and all challenges.”

Don’t know what you hear, but eerily, we hear echoes of George Wallace: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever!”

Birmingham, your state legislature and your governor have once again brought “disgrace upon your state.” We know the objective is to take HB 56 to the Supreme Court. And let’s not mince words; we know that ethnic cleansing is not an unintended consequence. Yet it doesn’t have to be that way. Here, we thank your civil and human rights organizations and your religious community. Please continue to fight. Our memory is long. Yes, we remember the 1950s and 1960s… but we also remember the Trail of Tears. Please do not permit a new one on your soil. After all, the brown men, women and children subject to this new draconian measure… they are our brothers and sisters… as they are yours.


Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: or

Column of the Americas
PO BOX 3812
Tucson, AZ 85722


Monday, September 19, 2011

In Arizona: After 519 years, Indigenous Knowledge on Trial

Column of the Americas

In Arizona: After 519 years, Indigenous Knowledge on Trial

By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Special Length-column

Justice. That’s a word not normally associated with Arizona. With Sheriff Joe Arpaio and his military tank still on the loose, this will not be changing anytime soon. In Arizona, Arpaio is colorful, but he is actually the least of them.

Just recently, Sen. John McCain decided to blame “illegal aliens” for the state’s forest fire outbreaks. Aided and abetted by the media, the senator’s irresponsible accusations, after touring the 500,000-acre Wallow fire, set off a contagion of wind-aided hate and fear. This month, two cousins were arrested for setting that fire. They were not aliens of any kind. The senator has issued no retractions.

This is the climate we live in. But it is actually worse. The borderlands are killing fields. That is not accidental or hyperbole, but U.S. policy since the 1990s. It is a policy that has resulted in thousands of deaths; migrants are intentionally funneled to the most dangerous deserts, mountains and rivers. Not just in Arizona, but the full expanse of the border.

So too brutality against detained migrants. It is widespread and not an aberration. The human rights organization, No More Deaths, is releasing a shocking study that won’t so much surprise, but simply confirm these widespread practices [thousands of abuses] at the hands of immigration agents. Here, the “migra” act as hunter battalions, always chasing down people the color of the earth.

The government refers to the funneling as policies of deterrence. Politicians in Iowa, Kansas, New Mexico and Washington have advocated even more direct forms of deterrence: shooting migrants or blowing them up as they cross the border.

Operation Streamline is also one of these deterrence policies. Every day, seventy brown men (and a few women) are herded into the 2nd floor of the federal court building in Tucson. They are all shackled to their wrists, waists and ankles, charged with illegal entry. If the judge spends more than a minute on each detainee, that might be an overestimation as the entire operation generally lasts but an hour. By the time this kangaroo court is done with, the judge will have criminalized them and ritualistically sentenced these men and women to private profit-making detention centers (Corrections Corporation of America).

What else can you call them but human sacrifices. The operation is designed not to mete out justice, but to enrich and to send a message (propaganda]. Prior to 9-11-2001, no one would have associated such an operation with the United States. Perhaps apartheid South Africa, but not the U.S.A. It is fitting that it operates in Arizona. It is also no coincidence that several of the governor’s closest advisers are implicated in this profit-making scheme.

The same day I go to witness this operation, I watch a movie, The Postville Raid: I shake my head. This can’t be happening in the land of freedom. The movie is about the infamous Postville, Iowa immigration raid of 2008. It is about the herding of 389 men women and children – mostly from Guatemala – into a cattle facility where they are processed, deported or forced to wear dehumanizing electronic ankle monitors. For 3 days, it’s their version of Operation Streamline. For us in Arizona, it’s 24/7/365.25.

The next day, a friend is visiting and wants to go to the border. As we cross from Nogales, Arizona into Nogales Mexico, we come upon a man from Central America. His eyes reveal not post-traumatic stress disorder, but rather, eyes of terror. He has been out in the summer desert, unsuccessfully trying to cross for a week.

Every time I am anywhere near the militarized border, my stomach turns. There is no justice there. Just scars, like the unnatural wall separating the two Nogaleses. It is the most visible sign of dehumanization.

Amidst all this, state senate president, Russell Pearce, who associates with known racial supremacists and who has been recalled and is facing election in November, is convinced that he can legislate the state back into the 19th century.

But none of this could have prepared anyone for the Tucson Unified School District’s appeal hearing in Phoenix. Despite the independently commissioned Cambium Study, which gave two thumbs up to the district’s Mexican American Studies program, State Schools’ superintendent John Huppenthal still found the district out of compliance with HB 2281 – the state’s anti-Ethnic Studies law. The district is appealing his ruling and the hearings are reminiscent of the 1500s-era Inquisition. At this surreal hearing, it is knowledge, a discipline and [brown] people that are on trial. Not surprisingly, even the student organization MEChA or Movimiento Estudiantli Chicana/Chicano de Aztlan is also under attack.

This six-year war against MAS is about what is permissible knowledge vs. banned knowledge. It is about banned books and about banned curricula. In this instance, it is a war against Indigenous Knowledge, this in a state that is also engaged in Ethnic Cleansing.

The supposition here is that individualism is next to godliness… that to teach [Indigenous] culture is to somehow not to treat students as individuals and that do so is to be both, anti-American and anti-Western Civilization (Great Zeus!)

Today, this hearing is about Mexican American Studies and its maiz-based curriculum. But the state law itself actually covers all of Ethnic Studies. And yet, a closer inspection reveals that it is a war over education itself. The state here wants to make Swiss cheese out of what can be taught/learned, wants to be able to censor, and still be able to call it education. Short and simple, this is not simply a war against ethnic studies, but a civilizational war on the very idea of education.

What is bothersome is not so much the Inquisitorial questions or answers, but by the very fact that this hearing (a modern day Auto de Fe) is taking place at all. I check the calendar; it is 2011, not 1511. I check the map… and not so sure where Arizona belongs. The last hearing is scheduled for Oct. 17, though we are not sure what the point of the charades are because as Huppenthal has already shown, regardless of the evidence, he does whatever he feels like.

By the way, the tremendous anti-Mexican rhetoric that has resulted from this conflict has also produced death threats against the students – threats that law enforcement has deemed “a joke.” Not coincidentally, I too have received a series of death threats. Normally, death threats seem to be ignored, but in this case, the person issuing the threats against me will be arraigned at the end of September. Stay tuned.

Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at:

Monday, August 22, 2011

TUSD Stands 100% behind Raza Studies

The above was handed out in front of TUSD headquarters to the media and to the public on the day after Gov. Brewer signed HB 2281. On the basis of what study did any of these board members, or Superintendent Pedicone (who was hired after this) change their minds? We all know that the independent Cambium study affirmed MAS.

What study is Huppenthal (below at work) relying on? Whatever it is, it's a guarantee that it is not independent.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Website for National Conference Combating Hate, Censorship & Forbidden Curricula I & II

This is the website for the National Conference Combating Hate, Censorship & Forbidden Curricula:

The second annual conference has been tentatively approved and will be sponsored by the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Scholars for Nov 18-20 in Arizona. Announcements and details forthcoming at above website:

The focus will be defending Indigenous/Raza/Ethnic Studies and combatting SB 1070 and HB 2281 legislation... and related legislation nationally.

* If you would like to see a hip-hop rendition to the button above: From Manifest Destiny to Manifest Insanity by TOLTEKA, go to:

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Proclamation: International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples

Proclamation of Indigenous Peoples and Nations
gathered at Pascua Yaqui Pueblo, Arizona August 6th, 2011
for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

We, representatives of Indigenous Tribal Nation Governments, Peoples, organizations and communities from Arizona, New Mexico, Sonora Mexico, Australia and California, gathered on the lands of the Pascua Yaqui Nation of Arizona on August 6th in honor of this year’s International Day of World’s Indigenous Peoples, August 9th 2011.

We discussed strategies for the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and other International Human Rights standards. We also shared examples of the ongoing violations of our human rights in Arizona, throughout the US, in Mexico and around the world. Nearly 8 months after the United States became the last country in the world to express its support for the UN Declaration, we continue to experience violations of our Treaty rights, cultural and spiritual rights, rights to our traditional lands, water, food sovereignty and traditional economies, contamination of our environment through mining and the export of banned pesticides from the US to Mexico and other countries, disproportionate rates of incarceration and denial of freedom of religion for Indigenous prisoners, destruction of our sacred sites and the imposition of colonial borders and racist immigration policies that target Indigenous Peoples in Arizona and throughout this continent.

We affirm article 43 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states that “the rights recognized herein constitute the minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the indigenous peoples of the world.” We recognize that all of the human rights violations and threats that we continue to confront are also violations of the rights affirmed in the Declaration, which is now universally supported, but not implemented, by the States (countries) of the world. We agree that full and unqualified implementation by the US and all other States is the challenge and the goal. We will continue to hold them to their commitments and obligations in this regard.

On the 11th commemoration of the Day of the Worlds Indigenous Peoples we make the following affirmations and recommendations:

1) We call upon the United States, Mexico, Australia and all other States and Nations to fully implement the UNDRIP and to abandon any attempts to qualify the inherent rights it recognizes, including but not limited to the rights to free, prior and informed consent and self-determination.

2) We affirm that UN Declaration does not distinguish between “recognized” and “unrecognized” Indigenous Peoples, or give the discretion to States to discriminate in the implementation of the rights it contains based on this or any other form of legal status; in fact it affirms non-discrimination as a core right and principle in a number of its provisions.

3) We call upon and encourage Tribal Nation governments to endorse the UN Declaration and call upon all Indigenous Peoples, Nations, Tribes and organizations to use it, cite it, assert it, and insist on full compliance and implementation in all of our interactions with federal governments and all of their subsidiaries (states/provinces and local governments as well as corporations licensed under the laws of these governments).

4) We call for the establishment of just and effective mechanisms and processes in the US and other States to ensure oversight and implementation of their human rights obligations, including the Nation-to-Nation Treaties and Agreements they concluded with Indigenous Peoples, and that these mechanisms and processes be created and implemented in full partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

5) We affirm that we are Indigenous Peoples without borders. We strongly condemn current State border and immigration policies which violate the rights affirmed in Article 36 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and other international standards, and we call for a study by the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a focused investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to address these violations. We also reaffirm our adamant rejection of AZ SB1070, HB 2281 and all other measures that promote racial profiling and cultural genocide.

6) We support the call for regional hearings on the impacts of the Doctrine of Discovery to be held before the 11th session of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

7) We endorse the work of the North-South Indigenous Network against Pesticides and call for a halt to all forms of toxic contamination impacting the health of Indigenous Peoples and the full implementation of Article 29 of the UNDRIP. We call upon the US to immediately halt production and export of pesticides that have been banned for use in the US.

8) We call for, and insist upon as essential to our collective survival, the protection of our sacred sites, areas and places, as well as our traditional cultural knowledge in accordance with Articles 14, 25, 26, 31 and others in the UN Declaration; we express in particular our support for the Indigenous Nations working for the protection of the sacred of sites and areas presented at this gathering. In addition we fully support Indigenous Peoples’ work to reclaim, restore and heal the sacred places which have been jeopardized by unwanted development, laws and policies, and the restoration and repatriation of our sacred objects and ancestral remains.

9) We look forward to presenting the issues and concerns we have discussed during this gathering to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples during his upcoming US Country visit and Consultation on the Implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in the United States. We offer our full support to his work in this regard.

10) We thank the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona for their generous hospitality, the Yoemem Tekia Foundation for the traditional meal they provided, and the International Indian Treaty Council and the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders for their coordination of this important gathering.

11) Finally, we express our continued solidarity and firm support for each other’s struggles and achievements. As Indigenous Peoples, we commit to stand together, and to continue coalition-building between our Peoples, organizations and Nations.

We affirm our sacred inherent rights to live as who we are. For our ancestors, our Nations and our future generations, our sacred Mother Earth and for all members of the human family we make this proclamation by consensus,

August 6th 2011, Pascua Yaqui Pueblo, Arizona

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sat. July 23: In Defense of Indigenous/Raza/Ethnic Studies Run

Saturday July 23 6am
Tucson, Arizona
Meet at A Mountain Volcano
(off of Mission, behind Mexican Pottery Store)

In conjunction with the 13th Annual Transformative Education (Raza Studies) conference, Calpolli Texicalli will lead a run from A Mountain in Tucson to Luz Academy (About 5 miles).

There will be simultaneous runs in L.A. and San Bernardino and possibly other cities, including one in Colorado.

Mexican American Studies in Tucson is under attack. Running is one powerful way to fight back. While the battle has been going on since 2006, the running portion is traced back to the summer of 2009 when as a community, we ran from Tucson to Phoenix to defeat one of the bills that sought to eliminate Raza Studies.

Last year, hb 2281 did pass and the battle is on. Read other posts on this website re this battle this battle:

The struggle to defend Indigenous/Raza/Ethnic Studies includes a legal and political strategy. This run is for ourselves. It is to strengthen us physically and spiritually. Please join us.

For more info:

Chucho Calpolli Teoxicalli
or visit fb page:

For L.A info, contact Mixpe:​le.php?id=604847387

For San Bernardino, Lupe Yarrito:

For Info re Raza Studies Conf:

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bad Subjects: #81 Arizona Biopower

This is a special issue of Bad Subjects, focusing on Arizona. All the Arizona Biopower chapters can be accessed at the website below.

Arizona Biopower:

This issue of Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life ( provides insight into the acts of state-sponsored biopower in the Arizona-México borderlands.

81: Arizona Biopower Ya Basta! with State Sponsored Racial Thuggery
Arturo J. Aldama, Peter J. Garcia

We find that when Arizona is brought up many scholars, educational and immigration rights activists across the U.S. just shrug and say “Arizona is crazy” or ”that is Arizona for you”. However we strongly believe that Arizona is a bas-relief to a matrix of racialized biopower that seeks to criminalize and denigrate subjects based on fear-driven paranoia about indigenous and mestiza/o peoples.

81: Arizona Biopower:
Outlaw Arizona: State Seceding from the United States and Humanity
by Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Over the past several years, Arizona has unquestionably become synonymous with reactionary politics and reactionary anti-Mexican, anti-immigrant and anti-indigenous legislation. Arizona’s image has been further tarnished during the past few years by being home to Operation Streamline in Tucson.

81: Arizona Biopower The Search for Reason
Roldolfo F. Acuña

Last week I revisited Tucson, where my mother was raised and where at the age of five, when arriving by Greyhound, we stayed in an adobe house in nearby downtown.

81: Arizona Biopower No Somos Criminales: A Decolonial Response to Nativist Racism in the US
Arturo Aldama
For all those perceived as illegal, even if their ancestry predates by several generations the arrival of European immigrants, how do we read their harassment, deportation, assumption of illegality? Is this also a predictable outcome of the processes of nativism? Your racialized construction trumps claims to indigenous identity and ancestry?
81: Arizona Biopower On Arizona’s Failed Democracy: Where is Chicana and Chicano Studies?
Peter J. Garcia
The neoconservative backlash against civil rights and social justice is attempting to criminalize Mexican immigrants and is threatened by any form of decolonial activism or liberation movements that might have prevented the social implosion occurring in Arizona.
81: Arizona Biopower The Veils of the State: Contextualizing Political Affiliation, Acts of Violence and Illogical Justifications of the Rhetoric of Patriotism.
Doreen Martinez
When it came to light that Mr. Loughner failed to have any formal political memberships, a shift away from the deeper connection he embodied occurred and one veil of the borderlands was achieved. Therein is a critical failure to understand Jared’s racial and gender entitlements e.g., his context or what we could refer to as his borderland status.
81: Arizona Biopower Arizona: From Jim Crow to Juan Cuervo
Alberto “Beto” Gutierrez
Unfortunately, the paradigm of race has been historically framed as a Black and White relation, overlooking more subtle forms of anti-Mexican, anti-Chinese, anti-Japanese, and anti-Native American local and national legislation and public policy.
81: Arizona Biopower Resisting a Mechanized Consciousness
Christopher Gonzalez
As cool as it may sound, no one in America should want to be a machine. To be a machine means you are expendable and exploitable. It means that you are just a number and that there are a hundred more behind you who are ready, willing, and able to do the kind of work you do. It means having a devalued sense of self-worth and adopted fatalism that speaks to your contribution to the world as being transient. We need to conceive of strategies that limit this sort of thinking in the Chicano/a community which aspires to move thinking beyond the attributes of labor.
81: Arizona Biopower Que Me Toquen un Corrido Pesado!!!: An Analysis of the Narcocorrido and Its Rise to Popularity in the United States
Jesus Acosta
The narcocorrido is a drug ballad, yet there is a great deal of multiplicity within these songs.
81: Arizona Biopower Danny Trejo's Body: Immigrant Males, the Border, and Citizenship in the American Imagination
Nohemy Solórzano-Thompson, Tia K. Butler
In this article, we discuss the symbolic and material forms this war against immigrants manifests itself in the United States. Using the films of Danny Trejo and most importantly what happens to his body in these films, we posit that it is possible to read the multiple forms anti-immigrant sentiments are performed and enacted in American popular culture since the late 80s.
81: Arizona Biopower Last Stand
Harry Gamboa Jr.
A man and woman are standing on soapboxes with their heads covered by black hoods while their wrists are bound behind them. A hangman’s noose is placed around each of their necks.
81: Arizona Biopower From This Side: Images on Immigration from the United States
George Rivera
The issue of immigration is evident in many parts of the world. It is part of the human condition. We must intervene on this reality. Artists must do their part too.
81: Arizona Biopower Allegory and Alterity: Regulating Labor, Immigration, and the Ruinous Emblems of Hate in Michigan
Mike Mosher
Michigan is the site for draconian laws from a Republican Governor and Arizona-copying cowboy legislators, yet perhaps the undead symbol of white supremacy should be legislated most of all.
81: Arizona Biopower “We Have Found New Homes for the Rich": The Underclass Won’t Wait to Join Obama’s "Everybody”
Joe Natoli
A “capitalist environment” has socially engineered us as demonstrably as whatever tradition centered gold earrings in the middle of one young Class Warrior’s ear lobes.
81: Arizona Biopower Arizona Inspired Artwork
Jake Prendez
Three works that comment on what's going on.
81: Arizona Biopower Normalizing Noncompliance: Militarization and Resistance in Southern Arizona
Geoffrey Boyce and Sarah Launius
Laws like SB 1070 are meant to divide people from one another by reifying fear, distrust and violent the exclusion of some. The We Reject Racism campaign worked to directly confront this process through cross-sector organizing that undermined pre-existing divisions in our communities and worked to mitigate the impacts of the law.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

John McCain's wildfire accusations

The Arizona senator accuses Mexican immigrants of starting wildfires, but he is fanning the flames himself – of prejudice

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez Tuesday 21 June 2011 21.30 BST

photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

John McCain said there was 'substantial evidence' linking wildfires in Arizona to illegal immigrants. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Does it surprise anyone that Arizona Senator John McCain has blamed undocumented immigrants for the wildfires in his state?

Hard economic times drives desperate people to do desperate things. Throw in the subject of immigration and a little bit of xenophobia … and shazzam! You have the recipe for a political ideology: blame the Mexicans! Send that recipe into Arizona and you have the perfect storm:

• Uneducated and unable to find a [high-paying] job? Blame the Mexicans.
• Social security and Medicare going broke? Yup, it's the Mexicans.
• Terrorism in the Middle East has you up at night? Blame the Mexicans for your insomnia, send troops and wall the US-Mexico border.
• Crime, drug usage and communicable diseases on the rise? You know the answer.

Blaming Mexicans, or "illegal aliens", is a tradition here; and in Georgia and Alabama, too … the whole country, really. Last year, McCain claimed that "illegal aliens" were intentionally causing accidents on freeways.

McCain's charges read like comedy but here in Arizona, immigration is serious business – and so is scapegoating. It is [Sheriff Joe] Arpaio country, where racial profiling is American as apple pie. It is this state that gave us SB 1070 – based in large part on the unproven allegation that Arizona rancher Robert Krentz was killed by "illegal aliens". Amazingly, another whopper was conjured up one week after SB 1070 was signed – that a Pinal County sheriff's deputy had been shot by Mexican drug smugglers (the incident was self-inflicted). And two weeks before SB 1070 was set to go into effect, Governor Jan Brewer began to warn people about finding headless bodies in the Arizona desert. But the fantastical tales don't end there: in this state, it's not even that Mexican migrants are falsely blamed for real problems; they are also blamed for invented problems. Dana Milbank from the Washington Post writes about this:

"Border violence on the rise? Phoenix becoming the world's No 2 kidnapping capital? Illegal immigrants responsible for most police killings? The majority of those crossing the border are drug mules? All wrong."

Per the FBI, we know that the border region is safer than it was a decade ago, and that many of the safest US cities are along the US-Mexico border. But when it comes to fueling xenophobia in this country, facts never get in the way.

For example, Tucson's highly successful Mexican American Studies programme is on the verge of being eliminated because our current attorney general, Tom Horne, has long maintained that the classes foment revolution ("Viva Che!"). A recent independent audit found all the charges against the programme to be false.

"Illegal aliens" causing Arizona wildfires? While the US Forest Service has made no such claim, McCain and his ideological supporters would have us accept his speculation as fact. What's next? Blaming Mexicans for increased sun spot activity?
© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at: -

Friday, June 17, 2011

Anatomy of a Tragicomic Educational Witch-hunt

Anatomy of a Tragicomic Educational Witch-hunt
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Arizona’s vicious politics in regards to the legality of Tucson’s highly successful Mexican American Studies (MAS) program have now reached the level of tragicomedy.

Despite an independent audit giving MAS two thumbs up – finding that "no observable evidence was present to suggest that any classroom within Tucson Unified School District is in direct violation of the law” – Arizona State Superintendent, John Huppenthal, still managed to give both the program and the $110,000 audit two middle fingers.

A lot of us are starting to miss Huppenthal’s predecessor, Tom Horne. With him, you could always count on him for a good laugh – like the time (always) he claimed that he was attempting to dismantle Ethnic Studies in Arizona in the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr., or the time he claimed that labor leader, Dolores Huerta, had been Cesar Chavez’s girlfriend.

With Huppenthal, on the other hand, you don’t know whether it’s Ground Hog Day, or Theater of the Absurd. After sitting on the results of the 120-page audit by Miami-based Cambium Learning for some 6 weeks, he held a press conference on June 15 to discredit his own commissioned audit. When asked to produce the audit, it was conveniently unavailable. For good reason. The audit actually praises MAS. Despite this, he unilaterally declared MAS to be outside of the law, giving the district 60 days to comply or else lose $15 million.

If this were a play, it would be titled: “Johnny can’t read” or “Say it ain’t so, John.”

It cannot be forgotten that HB 2281 was designed by Horne with one specific purpose in mind; to declare Tucson’s MAS program illegal. Thus on its face, HB 2281 is unconstitutional.

The second thing to remember is that the purpose of the audit was “to determine whether the Mexican American Studies Department’s curriculum is in compliance with A.R.S. 15-112 (A)” – (page 4 of audit). And what the audit found is that the program is in compliance because it does not violate any of the four provisions of HB 2281 (page 53). The provisions prohibit classes that:

· advocate the overthrow of the United States government

· promote resentment toward a race or class of people

· are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic race

· advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals

It is Huppenthal that found MAS in violation of the last three provisions of the law.
Reminiscent of the Inquisition, MAS has been declared to be illegal not because it is illegal, but rather, because Huppenthal has unilaterally declared it so.

When Governor Jan Brewer signed HB 2281 into law on May 12, 2010, the very next day, TUSD officials proudly proclaimed that the district’s MAS program was in full compliance. Since then, there has been no study to contravene this finding, including Huppenthal’s own audit. How he arrived at his determination is obvious; he moved the goalposts. What is missing in this process is transparency (The ACLU has sued to obtain the audit records to determine what criteria he used to ignore the audit). Huppenthal is the same man who campaigned to “stop La Raza.” In his own finding, contrary to the audit, he found that MAS materials “repeatedly refer to white people as being ‘the oppressors’ and ‘oppressing’ the Latino people.” If the term “oppressors” bothers him, perhaps we can come up with another term. Yet, it is obvious that it is the historic relationship of inequality that he objects to being taught.

In Huppenthal’s and Horne’s America, topics such as genocide, land theft, slavery, lynchings, forced removals of populations and mass deportations, Jim Crow segregation and legalized discrimination are apparently out of bounds. And the human rights struggles to overcome these injustices are apparently also out of bounds.

By ignoring his own audit, Huppenthal has, in effect, issued a 1500s-era Auto de Fe – a witch-hunt and a call to censor books, curriculums and classrooms. The tragicomedy of this situation is that TUSD’s school board and its superintendent, John Pedicone, have been seemingly racing to dismantle MAS from within, (attempting to make MAS classes electives), even resorting to the massive use of force (May 3 school board meeting) to enforce their proposed changes. Incidentally, the audit recommends that the classes remain part of the core curriculum).

Beyond the hate that HB 2281 has unleashed, still to be determined in a courtroom is not whether MAS is in compliance with HB 2281, but rather, whether the law is constitutional (The Acosta lawsuit). The audit does not actually tackle that question. Compliance assumes that MAS should adhere to Horne’s Greco-Roman values. The notion that MAS should treat students as individuals is a canard; they are treated as individuals, and at the same time, all individuals possess a culture and all culture is collective. And in case Huppenthal, Horne and Pedicone have not also noticed, the right to culture, education, language, history and identity are protected by at least 9 international human rights treaties and conventions.

While the audit is actually a resounding affirmation of Mexican American Studies-TUSD, the report does have another major flaw that cannot go unanswered; it advocates that the words “Raza Studies” be removed from the program’s documentation (this was already done in 2010). It does not explain why and reads like a cave-in to right wing ideology. The adoption or rejection of such terminology – which connotes the mixture of all races and the anti-thesis of purity – should be up to peoples and communities to decide, rather than as directives to be imposed by auditors unfamiliar with the discipline.

By inference, compliance connotes that promoting unity amongst [all] peoples is bad and that critical thinking and fighting for social justice are also bad. To comply with such a law sets a bad precedent.

Despite this and despite Huppenthal, the audit sounds like victory for MAS-TUSD.

Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, can be reached at:

* This is the link to the full audit:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Forget Huppenthal's Recycled Auto de Fe: Remember May 3!

Forget Huppenthal's recycled Auto de Fe: Remember May 3! Questions that must be answered
By Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez

Once again, the state school’s superintendent of schools, John Huppenthal, who campaigned on the theme of stopping “La Raza” and eliminating Tucson’s highly successful Mexican American Studies Program (MAS) – per the unconstitutional HB 2281 - has ruled the program out of compliance (as supporters of MAS, we do not recognize it as a law).

No surprise in Huppenthal’s ruling, though it appears he pulled a Cheney on this one (the audit absolves MAS, but Huppenthal rules MAS out of compliance anyway).

The surprise in all this is that the Huppenthal report has been released amid a mind-boggling case of collective amnesia. On May 3rd, the Mexican American community and supporters of the MAS-TUSD program were assaulted on at a highly militarized school board meeting and everyone is proceeding as though this unprecedented assault [on democracy] did not actually occur.

Before responding to the Huppenthal report, we must understand the context that it is HB 2281 – not MAS – that has unleashed an unprecedented amount of hate, anger, resentment, retaliation, intimidation, harassment, show of force and use of force against the Mexican American community and against MAS supporters, and it has been spearheaded by lies and misinformation.

At the May 3 meeting, more than 100 officers were deployed. At least 50 law enforcement personnel were inside TUSD Headquarters, including tactical units, a bomb squad, a helicopter, helmeted/shielded officers, TUSD security officers, etc. Aside from 7 arrests, elders were forcibly removed from the meeting. Outside, youths were roughed up. Most of those present estimate there were between 150-200 officers, including those deployed inside the building, those surrounding the building, and those that blocked off all the approaches to the building.

Here are questions to both TPD, TUSD and the media:

* How many total officers/security personnel were deployed May 3? (Dr. John Pedicone says he asked for police presence & most were supposed to be out of sight).

* The trigger to ask for the police presence was due to threats to students, etc. Is there a report re threats, presence of guns, including bomb threats, prior to May 3 meeting? On June 6, a TPD report on the threats to the students (“Shoot them in the head” video) concluded that it was but a joke. On what basis was it determined that a video that is inciting people to shoot the students in the head constitute a “joke?”

* Were there other agencies involved on May 3rd other than TPD and TUSD? What were TPD and TUSD expenditures for May 3 and were monies used from other sources?

* Why did the helmeted SWAT units with riot gear conduct military maneuvers prior to the beginning of the meeting, marching in two by two up the middle aisle?

* Who made the decision that speaking (even speaking out of turn) constituted a criminal and arrestable offense at a school board meeting? Seven speakers were arrested for attempting to speak and nothing else.

* Who authorized use of force against elder Salamon Baldenegro, teacher Paula McPheters from Ochoa Elementary and KOLD cameraman, Edgar Ybarra . All three were physically tossed/thrown out of the TUSD building. That is not acceptable behavior. (At a subsequent May 23 meeting, TPD Chief Roberto Villaseñor said no force was used inside the building and that there but 50 officers deployed at any given time that night).

* Who authorized TPD to order everyone out of the boardroom or else? There were many witnesses to these orders by officers in riot gear. Chief Villaseñor said that TUSD authorized this, but that TPD recommended not ordering people out, but they did threaten to arrest people inside the building if they did not leave.

* On May 23, Chief Villaseñor said that officers were not supposed to be in riot gear at the meeting, that he gave orders to remove helmets/shields but that radios and cell phones were not working. During emergency, radios/cells not working? Everybody else’s cells were working. Is this accurate?

* Is there a report on the use of force outside of the building? We know many youths were injured, including high school students, but none were arrested.

* Was report done regarding the entire events of April 26th & May 3rd or only about possible charges against the students (April 26) and the seven arrests of May 3? Is it available to the public?

* Why is TPD continuing to pursue charges when it’s no longer the wish of TUSD?

* For Dr. Pedicone:

Being that no one could approach the building without seeing a massive police presence everywhere, including inside the building, why was meeting not cancelled or officers directed to stay out of sight)?

* Why was Mr. Sean Arce, director of MAS, placed under the direct supervision of an avowed opponent of MAS-TUSD, Lupita Garcia, creating a hostile and adversarial relationship.

* Will you declare your opposition to the unconstitutional HB 2281 and instead declare your full support for the director, the teachers and the MAS program?

* There are plenty of questions as a result of Huppenthal’s June 15 Auto de Fe, but lets get these questions answered first.

Rodriguez, a professor at the University of Arizona, is a member of the MAS-TUSD Community advisory board and can be reached at:

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"Shoot them in Head" Video Threat Investigation against students deemed "a Joke"

The video that was posted with the threats against the UNIDOS students in Tucson was posted soon after April 26 and definitely before the subsequent May 3 miliitarized meeting.The investigation into the threats was deemed a joke.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Sacred War and Arizona’s Final “Reduccion”

Column of the Americas
For Immediate Release: June 6, 2011
Sacred War and Arizona’s Final “Reduccion”
By Roberto Dr.Cintli Rodriguez

In Arizona, we are just days away from a momentous ruling: it is expected that on the basis of an illegitimate audit, State Schools Superintendent John Huppenthal – who ran on the promise of eliminating “La Raza,” – will rule Tucson’s Mexican American Studies (MAS) program to be outside of “the law.” The way HB 2281 was designed, the only remedy is elimination.

Incidentally, supporters of the program do not recognize HB 2281 as a legitimate law. In part, this is because this is nothing more than a long line of “laws” meant to ensure our dehumanization. And this is not a new story. A read of Pagans in the Promised Land (Newcomb, S. 2008) gives us this understanding – that what’s happening in Arizona is not simply a civilizational war, but rather a so-called sacred war – the same war that brought us the Inquisition, pitting civilized Christians v. uncivilized heathens. In the Americas, it is part of the deep story about how Europeans (Christians) – via the mind-boggling divine “doctrine of discovery” – claim[ed] the continent and de-rooted its peoples.

In Arizona, it is also about who is legal and who is not and about whose knowledge is legitimate and whose is not.

This cosmic drama has actually been playing out since Biblical times. This imported drama is how we can also come to understand the meaning of Arizona’s final or Ultima Reduccion – the unfinished business of colonization. Spain’s continent-wide policy of reducciones of the 1500s-1800s, was about spiritually killing Indians while creating Christians in their place (American Indians will recognize this as the 19TH and 20TH century boarding school policies: kill the Indian, save the man). The belief was that Europeans were Christian and Indigenous peoples were pagan and thus, Christians had the right to claim the land and the peoples’ souls. A reduccion was also the process by which everything Indigenous was demonized, including the astronomical, mathematical and scientific knowledge contained within the ancient calendars. It also demonized the songs, dances, music, ceremonies, medicine and even the food (amaranth).

The entire 300-year colonization era was one huge reduccion and one huge Auto de Fe. The most infamous Auto de Fe in history was recorded in 1562 at Mani, Yucatan, where Bishop Diego De Landa staged a massive 3-day book burning – proclaiming the ancient codices of the Maya: “Things of the Devil.”

While those policies are officially over, they actually live on. On Dec. 30, 2010, then State Schools Superintendent Tom Horne issued his own 10-page Auto de Fe, declaring Tucson’s MAS program in violation of the 2010 anti-Ethnic Studies HB 2281. He had long charged that Ethnic Studies should be grounded in Greco-Roman values – the foundation of Western Civilization, and nothing else. On that day, he declared MAS outside of civilization and also, outside of the West. On that day, he metaphorically commenced his own book burning, commencing yet another Inquisition, declaring that books such as Rodolfo Acuña’s Occupied America and Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed promoted hate, segregation and the overthrow of the U.S. government. He also cited hip-hop groups Aztlan Underground and El Vuh for the same.

His declaration actually hearkens back to that “sacred war” brought over by Columbus. On Jan. 3, 2011, Horne read his own Requerimiento; a “legal” finding compelling the district to comply or else. The original 1514 Requerimiento was read in Latin to Indigenous peoples, declaring that if there were no Christians on this land, the land now belonged to the Spanish Crown. If they did not comply, the crown’s representatives would wage merciless war upon them.

On April 26 and then on May 3, the Tucson school board attempted to comply with the state’s wishes by telling the heathens what was good for them (MAS classes were to henceforth become electives) – since peoples less than human can’t think for themselves nor do they possess equal rights. On the 26th, students prevented the school board from meeting by chaining themselves to the board chairs. In response, on May 3, the board authorized a massive show of force (more than 100 police officers, including SWAT units, metal detectors, a helicopter and a bomb squad) to remind us how imposed laws are enforced: through brute force. Seven participants, attempting to speak were arrested, and many youths and elders were roughed up.

When Huppenthal issues his finding – his own Auto de Fe or his own Requerimiento – it will not deter MAS supporters because we too are involved in our own cosmic drama. It comes down to us from the ancient Codex Chimalpopoca (The Legend of the Suns) and the Popul Vuh; it is about how human beings and maiz were created. That knowledge is thousands of years old, it is Indigenous to this continent, it is taught at MAS and freely shared with the world. It is from here that we derive In Lak Ech (You are my other me) and Panche Be (To seek the root of the truth) – concepts that teach us to respect not just all human beings, but all life. It is how we know that we are not heathen, that we are all human and all deserving of our full human rights. It is also why we will not be complicit in our own [final] reduccion.

If the state wants a solution, it will have to speak to us as co-equals and as full human beings.

Rodriguez is a professor at the University and can be reached at: