A new chapter in banned books

Who is Malala Yousafzai…Barack Obama…Sonia Sotomayor…Michelle Obama? Who is Rachel Carson…Maria Tachiev…Maya Angelo…Aretha Franklin…Marie Curie…Eleanor Roosevelt…The Sojourner Truth? What is a stone wall?

Most of us can answer these questions, but did we know what these names have in common is that their stories are banned from classrooms and school libraries in America?

Pen America, a nonprofit with a mission to protect free speech, released an index of all books banned in U.S. schools between July 1, 2021, and March 31, 2022. During that time, 1,587 books were banned from school districts in 25 states.

Due to my unfortunate reaction to Maia Kobabe’s “gender-queer” column I wrote about in my July 7th column, and wanting to learn more about the disturbing movement to ban books, I was directed to the PEN America Index and was shocked Found far – this horrific effort reaches the limits of depriving young people of their knowledge and violating their freedom of learning.

Penguin Random House “Who? Who Is?” Middle Grades Children’s Nonfiction Series includes more than 250 titles. These are stories of people who have made important contributions to society in a variety of ways. “what is? what is? The series, also for middle graders, consists of 64 titles that introduce students to important historical events.

Shockingly, these series about Malala Yousafzai, Sonia Sotomayor, Barack and Michelle Obama, Rachel Carson, Maria Tarci Books on Husband, Maya Angelo, Aretha Franklin, Marie Curie, Eleanor Roosevelt and The Sojourner Truth were singled out and banned. Is it because a lot of people are people of color? Or a woman who pioneered it? What about the stone wall? Is it because middle graders shouldn’t know anything about homosexuality, even a milestone in LGBTQ history in 1969?

Some other surprising titles from the Forbidden Books: To Kill a Mockingbird, Lord of the Flies, A Raisin in the Sun, Brave New World, Cider House Rules, The Bell Jar, “Persepolis: A Childhood Tale,” “Mice and Men,” “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

The acclaimed books of black authors Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Alice Walker and Ta-Nehisi Coates appear to be banned simply because of their authorship. Any books written by or about Malala Yousafzai and Judge Sonia Sotomayor are also prohibited.

Republican candidates in Trump’s party now routinely pledge to American families by pledging support for efforts, including legislation and lawsuits, to protect children from “dangerous and divisive propaganda taught in schools, such as critical race theory and gender. Ideology”, and “Exposure to Pornography, Obscene and Indecent Practices”.

This is a dangerous promise that will lead to a slippery slope eventually into fascism. The many titles on Pen America’s Index of Prohibited Books should serve as a grim warning. Those who have pledged to support a banned book have opted for authoritarian repression over free speech.

Alarm bells are ringing, reminding us that we need to stand up against the Trump party to protect our constitutional republic, our democratic institutions, and our First Amendment rights. The Trump Party poses an existential threat to our country.

While Connecticut isn’t one of the banned states, and Republicans in Connecticut and Greenwich have historically tried to distance themselves from Trump, the takeover of the Greenwich Republican town committee, which calls itself the Greenwich Patriots, and Trang Primary victory for popular Senate candidate Leora Levy said the party is now completely Trump-like. Levy signed the pledge, which also includes an anti-trans component and an anti-choice stance on women’s reproductive rights.

In Nazi Germany, a list of books distributed was banned on anti-German and anti-family grounds, including any works deemed Jewish. On the evening of May 10, 1933, this banned book initiative culminated in a massive celebration of book burning at Berlin’s Bebelplatz. The monument that Israeli sculptor Micha Ullman called the “empty library” is now on that spot.

Nearby is a bronze plaque with a prophecy written in 1820 by the German poet Heinrich Heine: “That is only the prelude; where they burn books, they burn men in the end.”

That’s something to remember on November 8, as we face tough electoral choices.


Alma Rutgers has served in Greenwich Township for 30 years.

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