This piece was originally published on the Huffington Post.
Hailed as one of the most influential educators and historians in the country, Dr. Rodolfo “Rudy” Acuña has played a major role in redefining national views on ethnicity and historical legacy over the past half century.
Nowhere has this role been more important than in the witch-hunt debacle over Arizona’s controversial ban on Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies. And in a chilling battle over First Amendment rights and censorship, nowhere has any other historian and his books gone under such scrutiny.
Acuña is the award-winning author of twenty books. His landmark text, Occupied America: A History of the Chicanos, has been singled out by Tea Party politicians such as Arizona’s former state school superintendent and present Attorney General Tom Horne as “inappropriate” for students. Picking up the Ethnic Studies ban torch, John Huppenthal, the current state superintendent of public instruction who campaigned last fall with the slogan that he would “stop La Raza,” has included Occupied America in his often unsubstantiated attacks on Tucson’s Ethnic Studies/Mexican American Studies Program.
Case in point: An independent audit of the Mexican American Studies Program commissioned by Huppenthal specifically refuted his own charges against Occupied America—and those of Hornes—and criticized Huppenthal’s staff for taking quotes out of context. Specifically, the auditors found: