Danehy: Shameful State Lawmakers Want to Fire Teachers For Teaching American History

Michelle Udall, member of House of Representatives in Arizona State Legislature

I have a friend named William. He’s Black and/or African-American. Heck, I’ve known him so long, when I first met him, he was probably a Negro. He’s a great guy—college-educated, hard-working, entrepreneurial. We’ve talked about it many times how he would love to live in a country where no one would judge him by the color of his skin, but he knows that such is not the case. (I am older than he and I have told him that in a very Pollyanna-ish manner, I truly believed that, after the hard-fought civil rights victories of the 1960s, things would continue to head, inexorably, in the right direction.)

I thought it was a ratchet effect, that we had achieved a new baseline of decency, democracy, and understanding. But, as it has turned out, it wasn’t a ratchet. It was a tug of war and the other side is fighting back with a ferocity born of a fear that America might not always be a white, Christian country.

This, of course, is an outgrowth of the winning Republican strategy of railing against Critical Race Theory, of which not one opponent thereof can provide an accurate definition. The “issue” helped get a hypocritical doofus elected governor of Virginia and now it’s helping right-wingers across the country rewrite history by un-writing history. 

William is an actual student of history. He is acutely aware of the horrible ways Americans of all colors and creeds have mistreated each other over the centuries. But all that is about to change. No, history won’t change. It will just become inaccessible. Today’s kids won’t have to be burdened with the truth about yucky stuff like slavery or discrimination or genocide. 

This is all thanks to people like Michelle Udall, a state legislator from Mesa who has introduced a bill that would make it illegal to teach about things like the Civil War or Bosque Redondo.

My son-in-law is a mechanical engineer who happens to be Navajo. He grew up hearing the stories from his elders about The Long Walk of the Navajo, the vulgar attempt by the U.S. government to uproot the entire Navajo Nation and relocate them to a barren piece of land (the Bosque Redondo) in eastern New Mexico. Thousands of Navajos were forced by the military under Kit Carson to walk the hundreds of miles from the Four Corners area to their new “reservation.” Hundreds died along the way and hundreds more died under the terrible conditions at the Bosque Redondo.

After several years of living in horrible conditions, the Navajos were allowed to return to their land. The Government realized and then admitted that its plan had been terribly conceived and ruthlessly carried out. The Navajo Nation is now the largest Indian Reservation in America.

But Arizona’s children won’t learn about that bleak chapter in our history. If Michelle Udall gets her way, The Long Walk of the Navajo will be referred to—if at all—as a lovely spring stroll with a friendly Cavalry accompaniment. Those in Udall’s camp probably refer to Rainstorm Katrina and see the institution of slavery as having offered free meals and plenty of opportunities for work.

The late, great Morris Udall is probably spinning in his grave at 1,700 revolutions per minute. It was he and his brother, Stewart, who desegregated the dining halls at the University of Arizona. It wasn’t this overt, picket-sign kind of protest. The two brothers had returned to the UA after World War II and were stars on the nationally ranked Wildcat basketball team. One day, thinking that it was stupid and un-American for the dining halls to be segregated, they invited some of their Black teammates to eat lunch as a team. The dining hall staff was mostly Hispanic and they greeted the integrated lunch with a collective shrug and that was that.

Mo Udall went on to become a liberal icon in the latter half of the 20th Century. Now, somebody with that last name (she’s married into the family) is trying to push Mo’s state into some sort of intellectual Dark Ages (although she would probably blanch at the use of the term “Dark”).

Just think about it: A teacher could lose his/her license for talking about slavery or the decades-long attempt by the United States government to wipe out an entire race of people so that the country could spread westward. 

I’m torn. I can’t figure out whether Ms. Udall never read about the changing and/or eliminating of history in 1984 and so doesn’t understand the irony of her stance or if she did read it and is using it as a manual. 

Her non-defense defense of her anti-intellectual (and pretty much un-American) bill is that “we cannot combat racism with more racism.”

Instead, she wants to use racism to prevent the teaching of history that was helping to combat racism. 

However, before we get complacent and believe that Udall’s Race to the Right (which overlaps the Race to the Bottom) can’t get any worse, comes word that state Rep. John Fillmore of Apache Junction believes that Udall’s bill doesn’t go nearly far enough. He wants much harsher penalties against teachers and huge fines levied against district that allow actual history to be taught. 

Next, they’ll probably take on math, which, as we all know, is communist. 

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