In case there was any confusion over Governor Brewer's motivations when signing Arizona's anti-immigrant SB1070, her most recent move to ban ethnic studies in Arizona public schools provides all the clarification necessary. The legalization of racial profiling wasn't enough for Jan Brewer. So in her attempt to fortify Arizona's reputation of intolerance, she adds this outrageous ethnic studies ban on top of another order--quietly issued by the Arizona Department of Education last week--that prevents teachers with strong accents from teaching English.
In the weeks since signing SB1070, Governor Brewer has insisted time and again that the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" is in Arizona's best interests. She said it was about safety, about stopping drug cartels, about border protection, about quality of life and about ending kidnappings. She repeatedly denied that the bill could lead to racial profiling or incite polarization in a state where nearly 1/3 of the population is Latino.
In fact, when civil rights organizations criticized SB1070 for legalizing racial profiling, Governor Brewer fired back with an executive order that insisted the bill did no such thing. Instead she urged, "There is no higher priority than protecting the citizens of Arizona."
So today, rational people everywhere are left with one question: How does a bill banning ethnic studies protect the citizens of Arizona? It seems like any chance that Brewer was serious in her attempt to curb the racial profiling that is sure to ensue with SB 1070 was washed away when she chose to support this most recent ban.
In a time when national organizations have emphasized the importance of embracing minority communities, Governor Brewer has pushed them away. While the federal government works to prioritize safe school programs, Governor Brewer has worked to make intolerance the standard - not the exception.
The message from Governor Brewer is very clear: In Arizona, people of color and people of diverse backgrounds are simply not welcome. On the streets their civil rights are violated and in the classroom their histories are ignored.
But make no mistake, Jan Brewer is not the only Republican leader pushing such an extremist and intolerant agenda. She is joined by Republicans like John McCain, Charlie Christ and Meg Whitman who all seem rather anxious to permanently alienate Latino voters. It is during moments of political desperation like these that we fully understand the intent of leaders willing to push a reactionary, anti-immigrant and anti-American agenda that gravely undermines our nation's greatest values of diversity and inclusion.