Last month marked the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, marking the start of the Civil War. Days before in his Inaugural Address President Abraham Lincoln summed up the differences between the south and the north saying, "One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."
The South lost the war, but the argument was hardly settled. Throughout the past 150 years people have sought to distort history creating the popular mythology that the war was about states' rights.
Time Magazine recently wrote about the civil war, "150 years later, Americans have lost [Lincoln's] clarity about the cause of the Civil WarÔÇª," asking "why we still fighting the Civil War?" The war, according to Time, was not about states' rights, it was about the Constitution.
Yet, two-thirds of Americans believe myths made in Hollywood. The public is a-historical and wants to believe that the slaves were happy people deluding themselves that everyone in America is equal.
Part of the blame for this nonsense can be laid at the feet of the federal government and its failure to uphold the Constitution because it either not does not want to offend anyone or because it prefers to serve special interests. The courts with a few exceptions have allowed the 14th amendment to become a sham, allowing idiots to fly the confederate flag in defiance of history.
The truth be told, Dwight Eisenhower reluctantly enforced Brown v. the Board of Education. He was afraid to offend the sensibilities of southerners -- calling out the National Guard to prevent chaos. Still many Americans could not come to grips for their motives and throughout the fifties and sixties racist mobs protested that they were not racist; it was about states' rights and local control of schools.
Here we are five decades later and the state of Arizona is still under the delusion that it is defying the Constitution because it is protecting its states' rights. According to them, it has nothing to do with racism. State officials feel entitled to violate the law of the land, and squander millions of dollars of taxpayers' funds to play out their prejudices.
Where is the federal government in all this? It allows the Koch brothers and their gaggle of billionaire to manipulate the rabble through fear and lies much the same as the slave owner plutocracy used the landless masses to fight a war to preserve their wealth.
I could be flippant and blame it on intelligence. Indeed, Arizona like most of its fellow red states ranks in the lower 40 percent of the nation in I.Q. something that they cannot blame on the undocumented since California is fourteenth and it ranks in the upper 30 percent with a much higher undocumented population. But, I realize that test results greatly depend on the quality of the schools, which Arizona and the rest of the red states refuse to fund.
Placing their faith on the strength of right wing legal assaults on the Brown case, Tucson superintendent John Pedicone and the majority of TUSD Board of Education believe that they can get their way in the courts many of which which are controlled by right wing ideologues.
The truth be told, the Tucson Unified School District has a long history of segregated schools and constitutional noncompliance. In 1974, the African and Mexican American communities sued the TUSD in an attempt to get it to comply with Brown. Four years later the TUSD agreed to end segregation and do away with the vestiges of segregation. But it remained under a court order until 2008 when the court released the district pending the court's acceptance of a post unitary plan.
In 2010, the court accepted the TUSD's Post Unitary Plan which board member Mark Stegeman admitted that he opposed because he disagreed with the plan's contract to expand the Mexican American Studies program.
However, whether he agreed or not once the court passed the Post Unitary Plan, Stegeman was bound to implement it or resign his office. It was a binding contract and his continued opposition proves bad faith.
The truth be told, it was not as if the federal government was forcing the TUSD to do the impossible. To facilitate desegregation the federal government gives the TSUD $63 million annually in federal desegregation funds.
What it boils down to is that the district and Stegeman want to keep the money but they also want to play out their prejudices and kill the MAS program. For this Stegeman and his cabal evidently got assurances from state officials that they could violate its agreement and continue to get $63 million dollars.
The Mexican American Studies program receives about $500,000 of these special funds less than 1 percent of the special funds. MAS more than pays its way; the district profits another $12 million from the state for student attendance. Over the course of the thirty years the TUSD received more than a billion dollars in special funds apparently for acting in bad faith.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice joined by black and Latino plaintiffs has appealed a federal judge's decision to end court oversight of TUSD. It cites that after three decades the schools are still racially imbalanced. The TUSD is not acting in good faith the plaintiffs argue that there should be at least partial oversight.
Through this whole ordeal, TUSD has continued to drag its feet. On May 6, 2011 Pedicone admitted that there was a great deal of work to be done on the post-unitary plan. "We find ourselves so far behind it has to be a priority for this district. Concerns regarding the impact of our lack of completion of key responsibilities are paramount."
Even so, Pedicone and a majority of the board members continue to knowingly violate the post unitary plan. Board members lied to the 9th Circuit when they promised to expand Mexican American Studies. Stegeman lied when he said that he was working in good faith as did Michael Hicks and Miguel Cuevas.
Elected officials take an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Lying to the courts is a felony and an impeachable offense. If an ordinary citizen lies on his or her income tax, he or she is thrown in jail.
In Arizona most elected officials violate their oath of office with impunity, justifying their malfeasance with the perverted logic that the federal government has no jurisdiction over them and that they are somehow defending states' rights.
This is galling. California pays over eight times more federal taxes than Arizona while having only five times as many people. Yet, Arizona and the red state cabal are getting much more representation in the U.S. Senate and are getting back more for every dollar paid in federal taxes. For every dollar Arizona sends to Washington D.C. it gets $1.19 while California receives 78 cents.
Like my daddy used to say, "If you are living in my house and I am paying the bills at least respect me."
In this case the United States is paying the bills. Be grateful, respect the Constitution and don't lie.
No one forced the TUSD to sign the Post Unitary Plan. It promised to expand Mexican American Studies. Yet it is trying to kill it because of lying state and local superintendents and a disingenuous board chairman.
These elected officials should read history: the issue of states' rights was settled in 1865 and the Confederacy lost. As for the federal government, "respect for the rule of law is based on fair and equal application of the law."
In conclusion, if Pedicone, Stegeman, Hicks and Cuevas want students and community members not to swarm their board meetings and respect them, they should lead by example--not lie, respect their contracts and keep their oath to obey the Constitution--if not they should resign.
CONTRIBUTE $5.00 A MONTH TO DEFEND LA RAZA STUDIES AND EDUCATION IN ARIZONA