Anti-intellectualism is taking over the U.S.

Patricia Williams writes: Recently, I found out that my work is mentioned in a book that has been banned, in effect, from the schools in Tucson, Arizona. The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that “promote 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 group,” and/or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” I invite you to read the book in question, titled Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, so that you can decide for yourselves whether it qualifies.

In fact, I invite you to take on as your summer reading the astonishingly lengthy list of books that have been removed from the Tucson public school system as part of this wholesale elimination of the Mexican-American studies curriculum. The authors and editors include Isabel Allende, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Kozol, Rudolfo Anaya, bell hooks, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn, Rodolfo Acuña, Ronald Takaki, Jerome Skolnick and Gloria Anzaldúa. Even Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience and Shakespeare’s The Tempest received the hatchet.

Trying to explain what was offensive enough to warrant killing the entire curriculum and firing its director, Tucson school board member Michael Hicks stated rather proudly that he was not actually familiar with the curriculum. “I chose not to go to any of their classes,” he told Al Madrigal on The Daily Show. “Why even go?” In the same interview, he referred to Rosa Parks as “Rosa Clark.”

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4 thoughts on “Anti-intellectualism is taking over the U.S.

  1. delia ruhe

    ‘”…Expression is a teacher’s stock in trade, the commodity she sells to her employer in exchange for a salary.'” Thus, the court concluded, it is the “educational institution that has a right to academic freedom, not the individual teacher.”‘

    I guess one shouldn’t be surprised to see the term “academic freedom” turned into Orwellian newspeak. I’m still trying to get over the shock of a superb scholar like Norman Finkelstein refused tenure on the strength of a letter by (arrg!) Allan Dershowitz. A US school board that bans Shakespeare and Thoreau — two dead white guys, one of whom is American!! — is clearly run by pod people.

  2. Steve Zerger

    Anti-intellectuallism has been the normal environment in this country for most of its history. Periods in which intellectuals were respected and valued have been rare.

  3. joefiasco

    here in the corporate states of america books and history are being “revised ” by deep-fried, right-wing texicans in the ol south and being re-published with many omissions ( history of labor in the us) to try and keep its citizens in a fog of perpetual ignorance and without hope. they have tried this before all through history but they eventually lose. i suggest we all keep old books in original book form and teach our children from them ourselves. peoples history of the united states by howard zinn ( banned in Tucson) grapes of wrath by john steinbeck, orwell’s 1984, slaves narrative by fredrick douglas are books that in my opinion should be required reading in american high schools as they are an integrel part of our history that should not be erased.

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