June 25, 2022

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US Libraries Lead the Resistance Against the Rising Attack of Book Censorship

Photo: Vanguard.

In the face of the unprecedented right-wing attempts to censor literary, historical and even science works and make them disappear from schools and libraries under the pretext that they are considered “harmful” to the United States, Librarians and their allies are now the leaders of the resistance.

Number of requests for censorship or ban on books – Among them are some of the most prominent and classics of American literature – in educational institutions It has reached unprecedented levelsAnd the With no less than 330 censorship attempts in just three months between September and November 2021The American Library Association (ALA), more than doubled the total of 156 for the whole of 2020.

Laws in the making

Moreover, since January 2021, 155 bills have been introduced statewide to ban, limit or limit businesses in public education and libraries in 38 of the 50 states, and 10 initiatives have been enacted into law in nine statesreports PEN America, which warns that “this fierce wave of bans on academic and literary material is unprecedented.”

Coordinated and funded by right-wing forces, this campaign encourages local and state laws and measures to suppress books they consider critical of American history, especially those dealing with issues of racial injustice against African Americans, Latinos, and Muslims. and Native Americans, such as those who deal with issues of gender and gender identity, as well as struggle for civil rights and liberties.

“By falsely claiming that these acts are subversive, immoral, or worse, these (conservative) groups urge elected and unelected officials to abandon constitutional principles in order to strengthen government oversight of library collections,” the American Library Association stated.

He denounced that some of these groups “use intimidation and threats to achieve their goals, jeopardizing the safety and employment of librarians, teachers and school board members.”

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An organized political attack on books in schools threatens the education of American children. Censorship is made up of about 60 national organizations of writers, journalists, teachers, libraries and more. “We are deeply concerned about this sudden increase in censorship and its impact on education, student rights and freedom of expression,” they say (https://ncac.org).

Every week news is reported about attempts to suppress business. In January, a North Texas school principal ordered the removal of about 130 books on sexual diversity, gender, racism, and women’s rights., the Texas Tribune reported. Governor Greg Abbott has threatened to open criminal investigations against school employees who dare make books and materials about sex and homosexuality free.

In Florida, the state legislature just passed a new law that limits and even prohibits discussion and reading of gay topics in the classroom.and legal projects seeking to reduce the focus on racism are still pending there, and in other countries.

In Idaho, a bill is being promoted that threatens librarians with fines of up to $1,000 and up to a year in prison if they display material with “explicit” sexual activity to students under 18; A Kansas school district has removed 29 titles from libraries, including one by Nobel laureate Toni Morrison..

In Oklahoma, the attorney general is evaluating 51 books in school libraries to determine whether they violate anti-obscenity laws.; And in Tennessee, the school board banned the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel for Spiegelman art.

In the decade from 2010 to 2019, the 100 books that faced the biggest censorship attempts included Toni Morrison’s Blust Eye, Steinbeck’s Mice and Men, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, George Orwell’s 1984, Aldous Brave New World Huxley, and Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, House of Spirits by Isabel Allende and The Absolutely Real Memoirs of a Part-Time Indian Man by Sherman Alexei, among others (full list:https://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/decade2019).

Howard Zinn’s “The Other American History” is frequently attacked by conservatives.

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This is not the first time that attempts have been made to ban books in this country: Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was suppressed in 1885Beside On the Origin of Species by Charles DarwinAnd the In 1895, McCarthyism managed to cancel dozens of books and their authors. Recently there have been attempts to suppress the Harry Potter series.

“There is conflict and debate about what kind of government and society we want to be and banning the book is part of that.”commented Deborah Caldwell Stone of ALA.

Once again, librarians and teachers find themselves as leaders of the resistance, in alliance with students and civil rights advocates, for democratic principles. The ALA stated that, as it did, It will be devoted to protecting “the right to speak, publish and read as promised by the constitution.”

They defend rights

United States Public Libraries. Photo: Librarian.

In York, Pennsylvania, teachers and students successfully overturn a ban on several titles written from the perspective of Latino children with their protestsAnd African Americans, gays, and two in Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks. In Indiana, a law that would have limited classroom teaching has been discontinuedWhile in New Hampshire and elsewhere, Liberal candidates win school board elections.

As always, blocking something is always an invitation to give it a try. Conservative efforts have turned “enemies” into a bestseller, for example, Maus suddenly became an Amazon bestseller.

One T-shirt sold by liberal organizations simply says, “I read forbidden books.”

It seems these days that defending the right to read is a democratic act.

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(taken from Today)