On his radio show today Glenn Beck continued to urinate all over the meaning and legacy of Martin Luther King, by claiming that King would support a new Arizona education policy that bans courses that are designed for students of a particular ethnic group, and prohibits teachers with a heavy accent from teaching English. Beck said, “This I believe Martin Luther King would be for.”
Here is the audio courtesy of Media Matters:
Beck said, “There is a new racist bill in the state of Arizona. Racist, these people are so racist. Signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Jan Brewer, cheering critics who called such classes in Arizona, ethnic studies classes in the schools there, divisive, they called them divisive and again, the outcry from the Left is that they are targeting Latinos, targeting Latinos. This is HB2281. It bans schools from teaching classes that are designed for students of a particular ethnic group, promote resentment, or advocate ethnic solidarity over treating pupils and individuals.” This I believe Martin Luther King would be for. It’s the content of your character not the color of your skin.”
As Think Progress pointed out, this ban has a particular target in mind, “The measure is directed at the Tuscon Unified School District’s popular Mexican-American studies department, which school officials say provides only “historical information” — not “ethnic chauvanism” as the state school superintendent has alleged. One state lawmaker tried to show how ridiculous the legislation is by proposing that schools be barred from teaching about 9/11 because it would result in hatred toward Arab-Americans; the measure failed.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that going hand in hand with this ban is, bit of interesting news “The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English. State education officials say the move is intended to ensure that students with limited English have teachers who speak the language flawlessly. But some school principals and administrators say the department is imposing arbitrary fluency standards that could undermine students by thinning the ranks of experienced educators.”
The point of this ban and subsequent teacher removal is not to combat racism, but to remove any Latino influence from the Arizona school system. In short, the state is trying to get its Latino students to act “more white.” This ban is intentionally written vaguely so that it not only could include ethnic studies classes, but also ESL (English Second Language) classes. In essence the ban could create a segregated education system, where Latino students don’t get any special help that they might need and either have to whiten up or fail.
To say that what is going on in Arizona is not racist is to ignore the race based motivations behind the changes in the rules and law. Beck continues to warp the legacy and words of Martin Luther King and other historical figures to conform to his ideology. I believe that MLK would oppose the discriminatory activity that is occurring in Arizona. I believe Dr. King had someone like Beck in mind when he said, “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
On the topic of education, King said, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” There is also this poignant reminder from King that those on wish to discriminate against Hispanic people need to remember, “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.” I would like to believe that MLK would find the behavior of the Arizona government appalling, and if he was with us today, he would be speaking out and leading the protest against such overt racism.