The alarming rise of book bans | Writers

The American Library Association, which knows a lot about borrowing, has taken a page from other major sources and declared this “Banned Books Week.”

That’s good news, because any sign of censorship should be treated with caution. Civilization hangs on but cable and free speech are essential to its survival. In his not forbidden Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, “The Road,” depicts a father and son who struggle to keep the last light burning as part of their sacred mission. with humanity’s last hope. I see censorship in those words.

New ideas only scare some people, and then go too far. In 213 BC China, Emperor Qin Shi Huang held the first book burning. 460 Confucian scholars were buried alive.

Later came Adolf Hitler. Under his oppressive and genocidal regime in Nazi Germany, there was a public firestorm with the works of Jewish, liberal and left-wing writers, including Karl Marx, all for the “un-German .”

People are also reading…

Put that idea in your mental library for the next time former president Donald Trump announces a ban on an enemy of the United States.

Today, in America, book banning is enjoying something of a resurgence. We now have a week to mark his return and we have a new PEN America report on the ever-growing American book movement.

Things seem to be escalating as we focus on our social media failures. From July 2021 to June 2022, PEN America’s academic book index banned 2,532 individual books, including 1,648 unique titles. Most of the titles, but not all, are related to race or some aspect of gender or sexuality.

High on the list of flags today are minority and LGBTQ writers. Some of the writers may be surprised; You may not have heard of it, unless a child or grandchild brought you a book that you saw twice. Few writers are bold enough to put “sex,” “gay” or “gender” in the title, but I think Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir” will spark some. eyes

It depends on the context, doesn’t it? Of course, elementary school kids won’t be exposed to that book. However, a 16-year-old child does not need the same level of protection.

Some banned books reject the original, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which contains racial language and is often criticized for portraying a “white savior” in the Atticus-style scenario. Finch, the brilliant lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of sexual assault. .

Never mind that Harper Lee’s novel takes place in small town Alabama between 1933 and 1935. It’s a fact we can ignore, but the truth is: There were only four Black attorneys in Alabama at the time. , according to Marquette University Law School. I think Lee wanted to convey that not all white Southerners are racist and that some are honorable, caring and loyal to justice.

Among the types of books currently banned, we see authors such as Aldous Huxley and George Orwell. The censors thought that the students might see their own time in Orwell’s “1984” and start to question their parents’ opinion. Having read a lot of Huxley, I can’t help but wonder what he did wrong.

Another book banned in some quarters is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” (Why? Because every word is perfect?)

And don’t forget about Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”, which was admired by people living in the 19th century because it really took care of racism. And one wonders why the radical nationalism came so quickly.

The strangest of all on PEN’s list is probably Wes Moore’s “Discovering Wes Moore,” in which the Democratic gubernatorial candidate of Maryland writes about meeting a different Wes Moore. his life before his. The author knows how easy it is to change their roles. An inspiring read, according to the author.

Then, the Holy Bible made the top 10 books of the American Library Association in 2015 for, get this: “religious ideas.”

Leading the book ban movement are about 50 groups, with about 300 local members. Most of the banned books have to do with the law, in one way or another, or with elected officials seeking to stir up trouble.

The strongest states for this industry are Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Utah and Georgia. In other words, books about politics rather than children are banned.

Those are the times, I think. That said, many parents are concerned about what has passed for “documentation” these days. I understand the desire to protect a child’s innocence. I want them to grow in their own time.

These problems are difficult. But banning books is not the solution.

If I want to remember and give some advice? My best advice to parents about books comes from my father, around 1961, when his sixth-grade daughter was exposed to the work of best-selling author Harold Robbins. (Please don’t judge.)

One night when I was reading “The Carpetbaggers,” I heard my mother say, “Should we let him read that?” And my father, thank you for his open mind, said: “I don’t care what he reads when he reads.”

I’d go with it if I were you, assuming you can separate the kids from their shields.

Kathleen Parker’s email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

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