By Arturo R. García
The Daily Show’s Al Madrigal exposed the closed-mindedness behind the city of Tucson’s ban on ethnic studies in the most elegant way possible: let a member of the local school board make himself look like as much of a fool as possible. Two days after the report aired, the fun part is starting: watching people try and distance themselves from the scrutiny Madrigal has forced upon the issue.
Of course, Madrigal couldn’t have done it alone; he found the perfect spokesman for the board’s decision in Michael Hicks, who told him he was concerned about the “radical ideas” being taught in those courses–”that this is their land,” Hicks said. “The whites took it over and the only way to get out from beneath the gringo, which is the white man, is by blood shed.”
Which led to this exchange:
Madrigal: When you sat in on these classes, what types of…
Hicks: I chose not to go to any of their classes. Why even go? Why even go? I based my thoughts on hearsay from others so I based it off of those.
Hicks also revealed that the ban won’t be applied to courses related to African-American studies or courses related to other ethnicities, leading to another memorable exchange after Madrigal asked Hicks to teach him about slavery “without feeling resentment toward white people”:
Hicks: Slavery was … I gotta think on that … Ok. The white man did bring over the, uh, Africans …
Madrigal: What kind of jobs did we do?
Hicks: The jobs that you guys did was basically slavery jobs.
Madrigal: So after we were freed we got to vote?
Hicks: Yes! Well, you didn’t get to vote until later.
Madrigal: And we were equal?
Hicks: Almost equal.
Madrigal: What? We were sort of like half? Or three-fifths?
Hicks: My personal perception of it? I would say you were probably a quarter.
And to stick the landing, Hicks reminded Madrigal that, “Rosa Clark (sic) did not take out a gun and go onto a bus and hold up everybody” when discussing modern race relations.
According to American Indians in Children’s Literature, Hicks took to Facebook to respond to the criticism but not his own page; he posted this statement on a page owned by Democratic Congressional candidate Wenona Benally Baldenegro:
As you know (and I know now) the Daily Show is a satirical news show and thus does not always represent the true remarks their guest make. I went on this show to talk about the Mexican American Studies (MAS) classes. What I believed to be would be a true interview ended up being nothing of the sort. It is unfortunate that the Daily show opted to amuse rather then inform.
A fellow board member, Adelita Grijalva, described the interview as “irresponsible” to KVOA-TV.
“You know when you google ‘The Daily Show,’ it says there, comedy show, not a real news show,” she said.
The station also published a statement it said it got from Hicks (Latino Rebels also said it got the statement, which indicates at least some sort of coordinated response):
With all due respect, “the Daily Show” is a money making satirical show. It is not a news show. They do not present the complete remarks of their guests.
They splice and dice footage to serve their need to entertain.
I went on this show to talk about the Mexican American Studies (MAS) classes. I was mislead (sic) by the ‘reporter’ (sic) and was told that they were interested in a real interview. It was nothing of the sort.
It is unfortunate that “the Daily Show” opted to amuse rather than inform.
And for the record, they spliced my comments in several areas during this segment. I can assure you that my statements were taken out of context. Many of my answers were altered to suit their needs.
What I find more troubling is that there are those who will believe that what they saw on the “Daily Show” is accurate and complete news. They will then most likely base their judgments on inaccurate information designed specifically to support the view of “Daily Show” producers.
Real children are being exploited, and the producers of the Daily Show chose to ignore that.
Latino Rebels’ Jose Martí also got this statement from district spokesperson Cara Rene:
Michael Hicks is a publicly-elected official and was speaking as an individual. His comments do not represent the TUSD governing board or the school district.
If you want further comments, you will need to seek them from Mr. Hicks.
The timing of Hicks’ appearance couldn’t have been worse for him: he’s been the target of a recall effort since last month. The petition to recall Hicks, which must amass 23,542 valid signatures by July 7 so that it can reach the state ballot, was organized by David A. Morales, who runs the Three Sonorans blog on TucsonCitizen. The reasons Morales names in his recall statement include:
He has shown a lack of willingness to work with all TUSD constituents. He chooses to ignore the findings of an expensive independent educational audit lauding the benefits of such a program and has supported efforts to end to that program. He has demonstrated an inability to work as an adult with students who have not yet reached an age of majority. Rather than seek solutions or reconciliation he chooses to criticize. He has commented negatively in public forums rather than working to seek solutions. He has chosen to insult by insinuation a constituent community by comparing local behavior to well-known criminal behavior elsewhere in the nation.
That last allegation refers to a statement by Hicks made on a radio show comparing Mexican-American Studies teachers at the University of Arizona who took part in a teach-in with Tucson students to the incidents of sexual abuse of children at Penn State.
This time, Hicks did use his own Facebook page to respond, saying the district “needs your help in stopping raciest (sic) individuals from destroying our public school system.” On the bright side, Hicks’ appeal gave Morales plenty of grist for Three Sonorans. Thanks to Madrigal, Morales isn’t likely to be hurting for material anytime soon.