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NY Times Wrongly Accuses Arizona of Book Banning

NY Times Wrongly Accuses Arizona of Book Banning

The New York Times reports today on Arizona’s law shutting down classes in public education institutions that push for overthrowing the U.S. government, or are ethnically or racially separatist–i.e. “designed for students of one ethnic group or advocating ethnic solidarity instead of treating pupils as individuals,” as the Times puts it. The Times, which makes the law sound like a Nazi measure used to suppress Jewish texts, explains, “Investigators obtained textbooks, PowerPoint presentations, teachers’ college theses, exam prompts, poems and lyrics from hip-hop songs.”

The Times uses one particular example: the book Mexican WhiteBoy, by Matt de la Pena. State officials, says the Times, decided the book was inappropriate for classrooms because it was supposedly based on Critical Race Theory, which violates the law because it promotes “racial resentment.”

Only one problem: that’s not what happened. 

Arizona banned a public school course in Mexican American Studies, because such courses divide Americans along racial lines. One of the books on the syllabus was Mexican WhiteBoy. While de la Pena insists on calling himself a “banned author,” his own website describes what happened:

A truly scary situation. Tucson schools have just “shut down” all courses related to Mexican American Studies (in essence, banning Chicano authors and threatening teachers who include Chicano books in the curriculum).

In other words, Mexican WhiteBoy could easily be assigned in any English class. This particular class, however, was shut down.

Nobody has been jailed for reading Mexican WhiteBoy; the book is still for sale in bookstores all over Tucson. The notion that it has been “banned from the classroom” is sheer nonsense. 

But that is how the media plays opposition to ethnic studies, and now to Critical Race Theory as well: as an extremist attempt to restrict classroom learning, rather than a rational attempt to bring Americans together instead of dividing us along ethnic lines.

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