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Tom C. Horne: Only in Arizona

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who speak without thinking and distort the truth

By Rodolfo F. Acuña
Published on LatinoLA: April 8, 2011


Tom C. Horne: Only in Arizona


Only in Arizona would Tom C. Horne be attorney general, the state's top law officer. In reviewing Horne's qualifications one wonders if he were a person of color if he would not have been more heavily vetted.

For starters, in 1973 Horne admitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission that he "willfully aided and abetted" in violations of securities laws by attempting to "induce the purchase and sale of securities when it did not have the required net capital" and misrepresented the financial condition of his firm to its customers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the SEC banned Horne for life "from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser or registered investment company." He avoided criminal prosecution on a technicality.

But this is just one of many troubling failures of the press to inquire into the words and deeds of Arizona's top law officer.

Horne uses an Elmer Fudd demeanor to drive his message. I have listened to about a dozen presentations that are readily available on You Tube. He uses the art of redundancy in attacking the Tucson Unified Schools premier La Raza Studies program. Ad hominem attacks have catapulted him politically.

Horne seeks legitimacy in every presentation by invoking the Rev. Martin Luther King's 1963 speech, which included the line: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

The Arizona attorney general conveniently ignores other parts of Dr. King's speech, claiming that as a high school student he marched with the Dr. King in 1963.

Given Horne's propensity for exaggeration it is a wonder that no one has questioned his claim. A high school student at the time, it would have seemed that his parents would have taken him there, he lived in New York. He has never produced any photographs or other documentation.

Exaggerated claims such as Horne's are not uncommon. President Ronald Reagan often repeated claims of having seen combat during World War II. The difference is that Reagan was vetted.

Even if Horne's claims are true, his conclusions, based on one line of Dr. King's speech, lack what a critical thinker would consider essential-- "historical context." The speech must be taken in its entirety if he is going to apply it to his attacks on ethnic studies. He also has not read Rev. King's numerous homilies and ignores the fact that the Rev. King was the product of a black college.

I wonder if Horne would agree with Dr. King's statement that "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

Without either having read Dr. King's other statements, studied his life or, for that matter, substantiated that he was present at the 1963 march, Horne distorts that one sentence to justify his attack on La Raza Studies.

Posing as the apostle of the Rev. King, he claims to want to preserve the legacy of a "colorblind" Constitution by dismantling La Raza Studies.

Racism is forbidden by the 14th Amendment, according to Horne, so we should look at the individual and not the collective group. The job of the public schools is to take different peoples and mix them, he says..

In a March 22, 2011 debate Horne would not answer Attorney Richard Martínez's question that if Horne were truly concerned about race why didn't he do something about the publicly supported charter schools that encourage white flight?

The attorney general's speeches are punctuated by the phrase "I believe" rather than what is the reality in Arizona. In doing this he ignores the success of La Raza Studies.

FACT: "Ethnic Studies programs have lower graduation rates. Graduation rates for TUSD Ethnic Studies seniors have ranged from 94% to 100% since 2004 in comparison to senior graduation rates at the same schools ranging from 68% to 92%... comprehensive curriculum and instruction that is culturally and socially relevant and historically inclusive [is offered]. Its programs promote student achievement through academically rigorous curriculum aligned to Arizona State Standards. In comparison to their peers AIMS (Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards) data concludes that Ethnic Studies high school students are: 3 times more likely to pass the AIMS Reading section, 4 times more likely to pass the AIMS Writing section,& 2 ½ times more likely to pass the AIMS Math section."

According to Horne, "To divide students by race is racism." Raza Studies promotes racial solidarity--hence it is racist, according to Horne.

Again, he does not provide a historical context. Was Horne promoting ethnic solidarity when he was a member of the Anti-Defamation League? Is an Armenian promoting ethnic solidarity by going to an Armenian Church? Is "I believe" sufficient reason to justify attacks La Raza Studies on proven?

I have been a teacher for fifty-five years. Aside from teaching students how to read and write the purpose of education is to teach students to think critically.

La Raza Studies uses critical thinking as a method to motivate students and encourage their participation in the learning process.

Horne zeros in on Paulo Freire, calling him a communist. That is his belief.

It is important to note that in 1963 U.S. AID financed the use of Freire's literacy method in Brazil. We are talking about Freire's method which is similar to that used at Harvard Law School, which Horne claims to have graduated from.

To my knowledge Socrates was not a communist.

Moreover, if we disregard everyone that we believe to be subversive with "I believe," doesn't this become anti-learning? If this were the case, we wouldn't we have to disregard the work of Albert Einstein? He was a socialist.

Returning to the Constitution: a test to determine discrimination is "disparate treatment." It is one of the theories to determine discrimination under Title VII of the United States Civil Rights Act.

Horne is an attorney, he should know better. HB 2281 was written to include all groups but he has singled out La Raza Studies and Mexican American students for disparate treatment. In his treating Mexican Americans differently by singling them out. He is guilty of racism.

No matter what Horne believes we don't live in a "colorblind" society. We should accept that reality and not opportunistically use the ideal to promote and perpetuate racism.

Instead of "I believe," Horne should read prominent scholars. He would learn that trying to be colorblind only makes racism worse. Believing that everyone is now on an equal playing field with equal access to educational opportunities is a cruel hoax that prevents a correction of society's defects.

However, it is equally wrong to think that the rise of Tom C. Horne could only happen in Arizona. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who speak without thinking and distort the truth.

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