When a publishing house stops printing an old book by Dr. Seuss that no one has read because it contains harmful racial stereotypes, Fox News and the entire Republican Party go crazy about “cancellation culture.”
But when conservatives across the country start banning and censoring dozens of books at once from school libraries, they’re just trying to protect kids.
Having already turned school boards into a vicious political swamp, conservatives have now set their sights on school libraries in what experts call a historic and concerted effort to ban books.
This includes Maus, a graphic novel that conveys the horrors of the Holocaust in cartoon form, with Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. This month, the Tennessee State School Board voted unanimously to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning book from the eighth grade curriculum, citing “obscene language” and nudity.
Similar campaigns are being carried out in school districts in at least 30 other states, a Stateline investigation found, often condemning as “pornographic” books about LGBTQ and black characters’ experiences.
“We haven’t seen or heard of such issues in probably the last 40 years,” Shirley Robinson, executive director of the 5,000-member Texas Library Association, told Stateline. “It’s definitely become politicized.”
In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott capitalized on a public initiative to remove “pornographic or obscene” books from school libraries, following the efforts of State Representative Matt Krause (right), who circulated a list of more than 800 allegedly crossing the line.
Both politicians are up for re-election this year.
It’s not clear how Krause compiled his list, the content of which suggests he either didn’t have a clear set of criteria or is troubled by a cryptic set of information. The vast majority of the books were written by women, people of color, and LGBT writers, according to the Dallas Morning News.
However, the list also includes Gale’s Medical Encyclopedia, a five-volume set of medical information for non-specialists, and Eyes to Target: The Inside Stories of the United States Navy SEAL, which is available from ChristianBook.com. .
One book not on Krause’s list: The Wind Runner, a 2003 novel that was among 16 books recently quarantined by Florida’s Polk County public schools following a campaign by the conservative Citizens for Liberty group.
Asked why the group settled on the books they wrote, CCDF leader Jimmy Nelson told the Lakeland Ledger “the books speak for themselves” but struggled to articulate why the Bible, which also deals with adult topics, shouldn’t either. to be quarantined. ”
When discussing the fact that Khaled Hosseini’s The Wind Runner depicts the brutal rape of a teenage boy, Nelson was asked if all books containing rape should be banned.
“I’m not going to get into that with you,” Nelson said. He became angry when it was pointed out that the Bible and the plays of William Shakespeare contained rape, incest, and adultery, and asked if he would like the Bible or Shakespeare to be removed as well.
While hypocrisy can sometimes seem funny, book censorship does real and lasting harm to children, says the National Coalition Against Censorship.
“Libraries offer students the opportunity to explore books and other materials they might otherwise never see, and the freedom to make their own choices about what to read,” the organization said in a December statement warning of an ongoing “organized political attack.” for books.” ”
“It is freedom of expression that ensures that we can meet the challenges of a changing world. This freedom is critical for the students who will lead America in the coming years. We must fight to protect him.”