Late Night: ‘Daily Show’ on Tucson’s Mexican American studies ban


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Earlier this year, using a controversial bill signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer in 2010, the Tucson school board voted to end its Mexican American studies program. Monday on ‘The Daily Show,’ correspondent Al Madrigal traveled to Tucson to hear from advocates on both sides on the issue.


Madrigal first met with Tucson school board member Michael Hicks, a staunch proponent of the ban, who claimed that the classes promoted ‘radical ideas,’ such as the reclamation of formerly Mexican territory ‘by bloodshed.’

When Madrigal asked for evidence supporting Hicks’ allegations, Hicks explained that he hadn’t actually visited any classes. ‘Why even go? I based my thoughts on hearsay from others,’ he said, perhaps not grasping the negative connotations of the word ‘hearsay.’ He also suggested that teachers had brainwashed students by feeding them burritos.

Madrigal also met with former Mexican American studies teacher Curtis Acosta, who refuted Hicks’ claims. ‘We don’t teach them to hate white people. What we’re trying to do is teach a more complex version of what has happened in our past.’ Acosta also insisted that he was not some kind of anti-American radical. ‘I think this is a great country. In some countries I might actually be locked up for teaching the way I have. In this country, I’m just banned from doing it,’ he said, seemingly in earnest.

As for the contention of bribery via burritos, Acosta simply said, ‘That’s pretty offensive.’

Though Tucson has banned Mexican American history classes, other ethnic studies courses remain. Hicks tried to explain the seeming inconsistency, saying that African American studies classes do not teach ‘the resentment of a race or class of people.’ But he floundered spectacularly when asked how he’d teach black students about slavery without provoking any resentment toward white people.

In the end, he settled on a misguided message of inspiration. ‘We now have a black man as a president. Rosa Clark did not take a gun and go onto a bus and hold up everybody,’ he said, presumably meaning ‘Rosa Parks.’


Sounds like someone wasn’t paying attention in history class.


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-- Meredith Blake