Buried in the dizzying array of subjects included in the new Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum (ESMC) being considered by the California Department of Education for its 10,000 public schools serving a total of 6 million students is a course studying Aztec gods of war. If the curriculum is passed, students will be taking part in an Aztec ritual of chanting and clapping just in time to take part in Toxcatl, the month in which human sacrifices were made to honor the Aztec gods.
ESMC: ETHNIC STUDIES OR AZTEC IDOLATRY?
Even among its proponents, the ESMC is controversial and this is the fifth draft. Time is running out as the Board of Education must decide on a curriculum by the end of the month. The curriculum was supposed to focus on the four groups that historically are the topic of ethnic studies: Black, Latino, Asian, and Native Americans.
One of the key authors cited in the curriculum, Paulo Freire, a Marxist who, in his book “Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, claimed that the principal, perhaps the only function of education must be as a political tool to train the “oppressed” to overthrow “white supremacy.”
- Tolteka Cuauhtin, the original co-chair of the Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum, developed much of the material regarding early American history. In his book Rethinking Ethnic Studies, which is cited throughout the curriculum, Cuauhtin claims that the US was founded on a “Eurocentric, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal, heteropatriarchal, and anthropocentric paradigm brought from Europe.”
Perhaps even more disturbing was Cuauhtin’s claim that white Christians committed “theocide” against indigenous tribes, killing their gods and replacing them with Christianity. His solution was an official “ethnic studies community chant” supposedly based on indigenous songs. One of the chants California high-school students will be required to take part in is the “In Lak Ech Affirmation” to the Aztec gods Tezcatlipoca and Huitzilopochtli, both Aztec deities of war who were worshipped through mass human sacrifices.
Most notably, the Toxcatl ceremony, the main festival dedicated to Tezcatlipoca, was celebrated in the month of May.
The California high-school version of this worship to the Aztec war gods includes chanting and clapping to petition the gods to help them be “warriors… for social justice” and for “liberation, transformation, [and] decolonization.” The chant is concluded with the words, “ Panche beh” (You are my other me).
This high-school ritual can be seen in a linked video. It is unclear why this religious ritual does not violate the First Amendment.
ESMC: NO ONE LIKES IT
The initial draft proposed in 2019 was poorly received.
“A model curriculum should be accurate, free of bias, appropriate for all learners in our diverse state, and align with Governor Newsom’s vision of a California for all,” read a statement made in August 2019 by the leadership of the state Board of Education. “The current draft model curriculum falls short and needs to be substantially redesigned.”
The current draft being considered may not be much better. 57,000 comments and corrections were made by the public when it was made available for review. Some of the biggest critics were members of the Jewish community. The previous version of the ESMC hinted at white privilege among the Jewish population, implying that Jews were the primary group with advantages.
ESMC: TEACHING STUDENTS TO BE ANTI-SEMITIC
Jewish groups also objected to the inclusion of the anti-Jewish Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement alongside the Black Lives Matter and #MeToo movements which focus exclusively on domestic social issues.
The initial draft also referred to Israel’s 1948 War of Independence as the Nakba, the Arabic word meaning “catastrophe.” This is a term used exclusively by the “Palestinian” supporters who want to deny the legitimacy of Israel. The curriculum also included a song lyric that appeared to accuse the Jews of manipulating the press, a long-standing anti-Semitic stereotype.
“The ESMC is inaccurate and misleading in several critical respects and is drafted in a manner that reflects an anti-Jewish bias,” read a July 2019 letter from a coalition of California Jewish state lawmakers. “We cannot support a curriculum that erases the American Jewish experience, fails to discuss antisemitism, reinforces negative stereotypes about Jews, singles out Israel for criticism, and would institutionalize the teaching of antisemitic stereotypes in our public schools.”