Opinion: President Donald Trump would ban Mexican-American studies

Donald Trump, left, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. (Photo: Getty Images)

Donald Trump, left, and former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. (Photo: Getty Images)

If Donald Trump is elected president, he will ban Mexican-American studies.

Some people may wonder, “Can a president even do that?”

Can a governor do that? Well, former Arizona governor Jan Brewer did.

Brewer signed into law Arizona House Bill 2281, which prohibits courses that “promote the overthrow of the government.”

The law was a response to the Mexican-American Studies K-12 Program at the Tucson Unified School District. Its curriculum included books of poetry and also novels like Sandra Cisnero’s “The House on Mango Street,” which does not contain the words “overthrow the government” in any of its lyrical sentences.

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Currently, Jan Brewer is campaigning for Donald Trump.

You can imagine that, as a reward, Donald Trump could name Brewer Secretary of Education, so she can keep advising him on a daily basis, and so she can keep on stifling Freedom of Speech.

By the way, this issue isn’t just about Mexican-Americans – we just happened to be the group that Arizona went after first, but other groups are in their sights.

In his last day in office, former Arizona Education Chief John Huppenthal cited a course for noncompliance with the law because a teacher used KRS-One lyrics in an English class taught from an African-American perspective.

During oral arguments at the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, a judge asked laywers for Arizona if under the law it would be illegal to teach a course in Chinese for mostly Chinese students who needed help in the language.

The lawyer for Arizona answered that yes, it would be illegal.

Evidently, in Arizona being multicultural means oppressing African-Americans and Asians as well as Mexican-Americans.

As you may recall, Brewer also signed into law the anti-immigrant SB1070, also known as the “show me your papers law.”

That law quickly spread and was copied by one anti-immigrant state after another.

The Mexican-American studies ban didn’t spread because it threatened the civil rights of U.S. citizens too.

I had the pleasure of leading the Librotraficantes, or “book traffickers,” who defied and drew attention to the Arizona ban on Mexican-American studies by organizing the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan, which smuggled back in the books banned from Tucson schools.

We were part of a nationwide movement to put in check anti-American, anti-intellectual freedom laws like it, and Arizona’s law has been contained. We have checked any threat of similar propositions in Texas – a larger and even redder state.

However, the Arizona law goes before the Arizona Supreme Court once again this September during – ironically enough – Hispanic Heritage Month.

Regardless of outcome, the case will be appealed and could wind up at the U.S. Supreme Court after the November 2016 presidential election.

If Trump wins, that means the case could be reviewed by the Supreme Court justice appointed by him.

Let that sink in.

A Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice with Jan Brewer whispering in his ear could be the deciding vote on whether or not to uphold Arizona’s prohibition of Mexican-American studies.

The day after that happens, it’s likely, the same states that copied SB1070 will copy Arizona’s anti-ethnic studies law and prohibit culturally relevant courses across the board.

The law is general enough in its language to be used to prohibit African-American, Asian-American and Native American, as well as Mexican-American studies courses.

States like Texas, with growing multicultural communities, will attempt to implement the ban, and will be able to tell voters that they are simply following the federal law. And then other states will follow.

A recent study from Stanford University demonstrated that at-risk students who took culturally relevant courses were truant less often and earned higher grades than those who didn’t.

Mexican-American, African-American, Asian-American, Latino history courses can inspire and thrill all students. Before we only had anecdotal examples of this, now we have scientific ones, but we also need legal muscle to combat threats to this intellectual power.

That’s what’s at stake this election.

Will you fight to make sure that the American Dream is within reach for everyone through education?

You have until Nov. 8, 2016, to decide.

Que vivan los libros! Long live books!

Writer, activist and professor Tony Diaz, a.k.a., "El Librotraficante," is a political analyst on "What's Your Point?" on Fox 26 Houston and the host of "Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say" on KPFT in Houston. Follow him on Twitter: @Librotraficante

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