Anti-Anti-Racism (Anti-CRT) Bill Dies For Want Of A Missing GQP Legislator

Above: Republicans long for the idealic past (a myth) of 1950s Americana – at the height of state-sponsored Jim Crow racial segregation, before the Libs gave us the Civil Rights Movement and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Some Republicans even long for the idealic past of  1850s antebellum America – at the height of constitutionally-enshrined slavery before the Civil War and the “Radical Republicans” gave us the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments and the Anti-Klan Acts of the 1870s.

The most dangerous time in the Arizona legislature is that period of time between the budget being approved and the mad rush to clear bills that the majority leaders promised to their members to secure their votes on the budget before going sine die.

On rare occasions, this mad rush can end in a result that the majority leaders did not intend.

Such is the case this year with the anti-anti-racism (anti-CRT) bill from Sen. J.D. Mesnard (R-Chandler). This has been the fraudulent touchstone of Republican fear mongering since the election of Glenn Youngkin (R) in last year’s governor race  in Virginia. Republicans believe that their “white fright” White Christian Nationalism and “cancelling” minorities’ culture and historical contributions to America is their ticket to success in 2022.

White hoods and gowns and pre-soaked crosses for your cross burnings are available in the lobby. Be sure to use your promo code from the NRC for a 10% discount.

Howard Fischer reports, Arizona teachers won’t face new limits on teaching race, ethnicity next year:

Arizona teachers will not face new rules this coming school year on how they can teach about race and ethnicity because a Scottsdale Republican lawmaker was absent Friday on the last day of the legislative session.

But Rep. Joseph Chaplik told Capitol Media Services that House leaders knew he would not be there on Friday. He said if they were interested in the fate of the measure they would have scheduled the necessary final vote last Wednesday or Thursday.

“This is not on me,” he said. “They didn’t want to put it up for a vote.”

House Majority Leader Ben Toma, however, said legislative rules required SB 1412 to get a final reading first in the chamber of origin, which was the Senate. That did not occur until Friday.

It remains unclear how much earlier, if at all, the Senate could have acted.

Chaplik said he’s not buying the argument there was no way to advance the bill. “Leadership is so unorganized with planning and execution,” he said. [He’s got that right!]

Sen. J.D. Meshard, R-Chandler, who sponsored the measure, said the whole thing has left him “frustrated.”

The bottom line is this makes the second year in a row that lawmakers have been unable to enact what has been labeled as a restriction on “critical race theory.”

SB 1412 sought to restrict what some have argued are lessons that promote hate or feelings of [white] shame in students. Both the House and Senate had given previous approval on party-line votes.

Note: Critical Race Theory is a graduate level course taught in some law schools. It is not taught in any K-12 education in Arizona, and not even in the state universities, to my knowledge. Critical Race Theory is a critical analysis of systemic racism in our laws, culture, and society. J.D. Mesnard’s anti-anti-racism bill actually makes the case for CRT studies.

“CRT” has simply become a code word for Republican fear mongering about “whiteness” and the declining white majority population of Americans. The 400 plus years of White Christian European dominance of America with its “white privilege” and power through the violent suppression of minority populations is coming to an end, and “crazy white people be freakin’ out.”

There are historical parallels to the white minority governments of Rhodesia and South Africa violently trying to hold onto power in the face of demands from the African majority population of those countries – but J.D. Mesnard would prohibit any discussion of this with students under his anti-anti-racism bill. God forbid they might learn something of value from the experience of other countries. Maybe we might even avoid the violence that came with the end of those white minority governments.

Only thing is, there were some last minute changes needed to get final approval. And that meant there needed to be another roll-call vote in both chambers — the vote that the Senate did on Friday, the last day of the session, but that did not occur in the House because of Chaplik’s absence.

That will force Mesnard to try again in 2023 — assuming he is reelected and the Republicans maintain their control of both the House and Senate.

The legislation has its roots in what has been a talking point by some Republicans on so-called “critical race theory,” based on the claim that majority students are being taught to hate their own race or made to feel guilty about things those from their own race have done in the past.

Reggie Jackson (no, not the baseball legend) Senior Columnist for the Milwaukee Independent, explains SHIELDING A CULTURE OF RACISM: WHY ANTI-CRT LEGISLATION SHOULD REALLY BE CALLED “WHITE COMFORT BILLS” INSTEAD (h/t for the above graphic).

Critical race theory, however, is actually an academic concept usually taught and discussed at the college level, looking at issues of how racism occurs and how even current attitudes are based on historical practices. Despite politicians, including in Arizona, running for office with a promise to halt it in public schools, there are only scattered reports of anything close to that being taught here. [Do you mean some parent claimed that “CRT” is being taught in their kid’s school, Howie? Show the evidence.]

Mesnard’s proposal [slyly] never mentioned critical race theory.

Instead, it spelled out rules about teaching certain things, like one race or ethnic group is “inherently morally or intellectually superior to another race or ethnic group.”

It also mentioned lessons about whether an individual, by virtue or ethnicity, is inherently racist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, as well as that any individual because of race or ethnicity “bears responsibility or blame for actions committed by other members of the same race or ethnic group.”

That caused concern among Democrats who argued the measure effectively would whitewash the teaching of history to the point where students would be presented with facts but fail to understand the context.

American history classes have always been whitewashed in my lifetime. This is what this bill sought to preserve.

Sen. Christine Marsh, D-Phoenix, said it could result in teachers, fearing discipline for violating the law, simply choosing not to give certain lessons or to use certain books because that might cross the line and
make students feel shame or guilt about their race or their ethnicity.

“Are they [snowflakes] so fragile that they can’t even have a conversation, learn about or read about racism in this country?” she asked.

“This bill will stifle what kids read and learn even though few to no teachers are actually, actively going around trying to make any student feel bad about their race,” Marsh said. “And they are not so fragile that they can’t separate racism that they see in history and in contemporary society from their own identities.”

Mesnard, however, said foes of the measure are ignoring what he calls the key part of his legislation: It would prohibit instruction that “promotes or advocates” for any of the concepts.

“If, indeed, all of these things, the idea of promoting or advocating these things is offensive, and I believe, personally, contrary to American values, then you should be voting ‘yes,’ ” he said.

Mesnard said the legislation even spelled out that nothing within it would preclude identifying and discussing “historical movements, ideologies or instances of racial hatred or discrimination,” down to the point where it lists things including slavery, Indian removal, the Holocaust and Japanese-American internment.

“We were very clear about what is OK and what is not OK,” he said.

Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Glendale, said he feared the legislation would effectively sanitize the teaching of history to the point where students will not understand how and why certain things occurred.

“We know that the teacher’s role in a classroom should be a lot more than simply telling facts, numbers and dates,” he said.

“The teacher’s role in the classroom should be putting all of that information, all of the facts, all of the numbers, all the dates into context and teaching children how to think critically about all of those pieces of information,” Quezada continued. “When we don’t allow them and don’t teach them how to think critically, we narrow their world view.”

He said it may be impossible to teach certain subjects without making students uncomfortable, something he said crosses a line he believes the legislation draws.

“It should be the normal, human reaction to history to feel some discomfort over some of the things that have happened in our history,” Quezada said.

“There have been horrible, horrible things that have happened in our history: mass destruction of life and liberty, all under America’s banner,” he said. “That stuff has happened in our past.”

Said Sen. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, D-Tucson: “Sometimes living with a little bit of guilt and feeling really, really sorry is the motivator to not repeat and to seek a different way.”

Republican lawmakers adopted virtually identical language in 2021.

However, they included it in one of their budget bills. That was voided when the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to include provisions that do not deal with state spending.

Now there is a history lesson every Arizona student should be taught in their civics class. Lawless Republicans have been passing unconstitutional bills for decades in Arizona. Maybe if they knew this they would grow up to become voters who stop electing lawless Republicans.