Arizona Gov Outlaws Teaching Tombstone’s OK Corral Gunfight and Cowboy Pix

my darling clementinePHOENIX, Az. — Hard on the heels of approving a sweeping anti-immigrant racial profiling law Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill on May 12 outlawing ethnic studies in the state’s public schools. Proponents of the measure contend that teaching minorities about their culture and history promotes “destructive ethnic chauvinism.” Brewer spokesman Paul Senseless said, “The governor believes … students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people.”

In a press conference the unelected Governor also announced that as part of the legislation the Arizona public school system was prohibiting teaching about the shootout at the O.K. Corral. “Educating students about this purported gunfight at Tombstone in 1881 could inflame racial animosity against Caucasians,” contended Brewer, noting that all of the participants in the brief but bloody barrage of bullets were whites. “Teaching the history of the O.K. Corral, um, civil disturbance could give the unfortunate impression that Americans of European ancestry are a bunch of lawless trigger happy gunslingers who resort to gunplay in order to settle differences. We don’t want students to get the idea that Western civilization is full of savage barbarians,” said the Republican Governor, a staunch supporter of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The set where John Sturges shot 1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" at Old Tucson Studios. (Photo: Ed Rampell)

Brewer, Arizona’s former Lt. Governor who replaced ex-Gov. Janet Napolitano when she was appointed U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, went on to say that the state of Arizona was banning the screening and airing of films about the fabled incident at Tombstone due to their “inflammatory nature, unfavorably depicting Anglo-Americans. In addition, these movies also raise questions about our homeland security and the second amendment.” The blacklisted films include John Ford’s 1946 My Darling Clementine , John Sturges’ 1957 Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Kurt Russell’s 1993Tombstone, and Kevin Costner’s 1994 Wyatt Earp . The Gover-hater singled out Sturges’ 1967 Hour of the Gun, about Earp’s relentless pursuit of the O.K. Corral perps, as “despicable, for portraying Caucasoid-Americans as bloodthirsty gunmen hell-bent on violent, vengeful vendettas.”

Brewer added that classroom instruction about and movie depictions of Georgia-born Doc Holliday “are especially troubling, as they tend to cast white Southerners in a negative light as syphilitic, whore-mongering, tubercular, gunslinging gamblers prone to resolution of conflict through violence. They also malign the noble profession of dentistry.” To compensate for what Brewer called “Doc Holliday’s bum rap” she’s proposing replacing Martin Luther King Day, which Arizona was the last state to adopt, with a state holiday honoring Southern males and Confederate veterans of the War Between the States.

The set where John Sturges shot 1957's "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral" at Old Tucson Studios. (Photo: Ed Rampell)

Brewer, who is currently running for Governor of the Grand Canyon State, cut the press conference short in order to testify at a legislative hearing regarding another bill that would ban teaching about the December 7, 1941 sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. An advocate of the bill, the Gov explained that since the surprise aerial raid “sank the U.S.S. Arizona teaching about this admittedly regrettable, uh, occurrence, and showing slanted movies about it like From Here to EternityTora! Tora! Tora! and Pearl Harbor could incite racial animosity between the good people of Arizona and Japan.”

In a related development, the loud cracking sound heard throughout Washington, D.C. was not an earthquake, but rather Janet Napolitanosmacking her forehead.

Ed Rampell is an L.A.-based film historian, critic, author, freelance writer and wag who wrote the Oct. 26, 2001 Tucson Weekly cover story“Tinseltown’s Tombstone, A Look at the Real and Reel Wyatt Earp.”

Ed Rampell

Published by the LA Progressive on May 15, 2010
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About Ed Rampell

Ed Rampell was named after legendary CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow. Rampell is a L.A.-based film critic/historian and author. Michael Moore is on the cover of Rampell’s book Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States.