Why would “educators” ever support censorship?
Do you remember the phrase “Banned in Boston?” Why wouldn’t the city first settled by the Puritans be nervous about art, literature and language which surely could corrupt America? When the Catholics arrived there from Ireland, things were just as bad. The idea that the Pope in the Vatican could control the viewpoint of people in America, even plagued John F. Kennedy’s run for President.
The phrase “banned in Boston” was used to describe a literary work, song, motion picture or play which had been prohibited from distribution or exhibition in Boston, Massachusetts. City officials had wide authority to forbid works they claimed presented “objectionable” content or sexual language. They even outlawed the $5 bill of the 1896 “Educational” series of banknotes that featured partially nude allegorical figures. Now here’s a funny twist. Things banned in Boston were available as something special everywhere else. When it’s banned, people want to see it.
A news story hit last week saying the McMinn County School Board in Tennessee had banned books, some of them written by Pulitzer Prize winners, I immediately thought about Germany in the 1930s and Russia in the 1950s barring books telling a truth that differed from that of the people in power. Right after they banned the books in Germany, they started to round up the Jews and put them on trains.
I know some moderates will probably say I am overreacting, but my pointed concern is we are facing a conflict of reality right at our doorstep. The right-wing nutjobs keep telling us that the lefties and socialists are coming to take America away, but it’s clearly the opposite.
I was concerned when I learned that Michael Flynn, disgraced former general, convicted felon and Trump pardon beneficiary, moved into the next town over from mine. Now it seems that Michael and his equally poisoned brother are opening a storefront to mobilize locals to keep Donald Trump’s Big-Lie alive. As CNN reported, “The Army is now acknowledging that Lt. Gen. Charles Flynn, the brother of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, was in the room for one of the key January 6 phone calls in which D.C. government and US Capitol Police were asking for National Guard troops to quell the unfolding violence at the US Capitol.” I’m not at all sure why the guy should have even been there but, clearly, it reeks the same odor that flowed from the Nazi party in the 1930s.
There are some real emotional topics driving the far-right propaganda. First, they have this idea that Democrats are not capitalists, which is a lie. Socialism might be their devil to defeat, but they simply don’t understand how America works. Then they have this thing about Black people gaining too much power and “taking things over.” Okay, but I have yet to meet a single person from the right who can tell me what critical race theory is, let alone explain why the basic truths of America’s past would be bad for anyone to know.
CRT isn’t taught in 98% of the universities and colleges in America, and it’s certainly not comprehensible for any kid without a college degree. That’s why it’s not taught in public or private schools. I’ll sum up CRT in one sentence. The United States of America, either knowingly or unknowingly passed laws that held African Americans back. To this very day we have a bundle of barricades weighing against Black voters, starting with the Jim Crow laws, such as IQ tests for voting, fees for voting and reducing the number of polling locations. Then there’s gerrymandering, reducing the power of Black communities. Finally, we are passing laws that prevent the teaching of certain subjects in American history. We have a problem.
When a Tennessee school board voted unanimously to ban the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Maus, which details the horrors of the Holocaust, the white school board majorities included those of the Jewish faith in this whitewashing of history. In their quest to remove intellectual pain and concern from teaching, they are going to guarantee we raise dumb kids who will believe there is no racism, cops are always right and the federal government is evil. Since we already have a fundamental problem, just imagine how this could expand in the next couple of decades. We teach the Civil War in our schools so please explain why we should not teach about what Germany did to the Jews in World War II?
Probably more than six million people of the Jewish faith were murdered by the Nazis and there were more than six hundred thousand Americans killed during the Civil War. Both of those death tolls are greater than those of the Covid crisis. If you want kids to understand the value of life you must show them, sometimes graphically, how fast life can be taken away. If you want our next generation to think we’ve cured all the ills, then the question of how we did so will be raised. Someday our kids will rip off the wallpaper to see what you’ve been hiding from them on the surface beneath.
Sure, take Maus off the shelves, but now there will be lots of people who get the book and share it with their kids. If something is banned in Tennessee, many smart kids will find the work, read it and get smarter. You just gave the subject matter of the Holocaust a special place with those goth-oriented intellectuals living right under your nose. Are you going to ban smart kids from your schools, or better, take those kids you want to protect and put them in private schools where they will learn that the rich run the world?
BTW, the big headline in Slate.com proves it: Sales of Maus Soar After a Tennessee School Board Banned the Book.
Our society is doomed if we are going to stop teaching certain subjects just because, well, they’re not important, anymore. Imagine a time when totally unqualified people who buy into the Pollyanna propaganda step up to teach children Big Lies. Boy, that would be terrible.
Not everyone in Tennessee is stupid. Al Gore hails from that state and he received a great education on climate change. So, should we strike that subject from our curricula and not give a damn about what we leave for our kids?
Banning books is bad but it’s even worse when people get away with that shit. Someone must stop them.
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