American Conservative parents are pushing for a ban on books – and inadvertently make reading cool again education in the USA

MThe Oms and Dads broke into Spotsylvania County Virginia City Hall in early November, infernally determined to rid Scholastic jurisdiction of all “inappropriate” books. Novels containing any commentary on race, sexuality, and sexual content were scrutinized as a new reactionary panic targeted stacks in high school libraries. “Results for gays, 172. Results for.” heterosexual, two, “said Christina Burris, one of the parents present, who used the district’s literature search function. The board resigned and voted 6-0 for liquidation.

One of the books targeted by the title was 33 Snowfish, a acclaimed 2003 novel about a trio of teenagers on the run and all sorts of dirty, childish behaviors. Concerned parents in northern Virginia believed that the intoxicating themes of poverty, addiction, and abuse had no place in the tabernacles of learning, so the book needed to be published.

When Paul Cymrot heard about the meeting, he tracked down as many copies of 33 Snowfish as possible. He soon, ironically, discovered that this book had never been in the school library. 33 Snowfish is barely in the press, and Cymrot told me it was a version of an e-book that was staying in some dusty corner of the school library’s servers, which caused the initial hostility.

Moral militancy immediately failed because Cymrot knows a good business opportunity when he sees one. He has owned Riverby Books in Scotland for 25 years and has a keen nose for the ebb and flow of the publishing market. One bookseller’s truth remains eternally undefeated, Cymrot explains. When a censor zeitgeist swallows a novel, many people will want to buy it.

“It was not easy to find a box full of 33 snow fish, but we did it, “he continues. “We sold everything we bought and kept the couple as lenders because we wanted to make sure all the students in the community saw what was going on. There will always be some around. “

Read 33 Snowfish is now easier than ever in Spotsylvania County, subversion of the right-wing siege of an allegedly awakened plot infecting a school library.

Ominous new headlines about book bans are constantly appearing. Just this month, Texas State Attorney Matt Krause pushed to remove 850 books, including classics by Alan Moore and Margaret Atwood, from the public curriculum. A few days ago, parents in Kansas City attacked school conventions because they feared that their children might begin to internalize the wisdom of Alison Bechdel or Angie Thomas. At a meeting in Spotsylvania, two board members raised the idea literally burning offensive titles that would attack both our precious standards and our precious subtext.

As always, the impulse of mania is simple, stupid and cynical. The Republican Party has made a concerted effort to bring extreme philosophical principles, such as critical race theory, to the heart of our policies, and therefore Virginia’s elected governor, Glenn Youngkin, has spent most of his time in the run-up to the Beloved Toni Morrison campaign.. The parents grabbed the bait, and overnight high school librarians found themselves – those brazen extremists pursuing their anti-American plans by cataloging Pulitzer’s winners in 1987.

These books are rarely outrageous or obscene; instead, they simply contain stories of race, gender, and inequality that disagree against prescribed American ideology. That’s more than enough for a brave conservative movement.

However, there is no evidence that the wave of book bans actually fulfills their intended ambitions. If anything, they have achieved the opposite effect. Sale of a loved one rose after Youngkin turned Morrison into a partisan character, and Jerry Craft, an author and artist on the Krause list for his 2019 graphic novel New Kid, spoke at length about how legislative repression is an unlikely benefit to his career. . “It so happened that so many copies were sold in so many places, because now people want to see what all the hype is all about,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “They’re almost disappointed because there’s no big deal they’ve been looking for.”

Students holding copies of the book This book is anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell.
Students holding copies of the book This book is anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell. Panthers Anti-Rasist Union Pictures

In 2021, with countless different merchants, all bound by the intercontinental supply chain, banning the novel is almost exclusively ceremonial – a lament rather than a real political project. After the occupation of Berlin in 1933, the Nazis burned thousands of books. If a police officer arrives today to seize your literature, he can deliver a replacement copy to your mailbox the next morning.

In fact, all the booksellers I spoke to about this story seemed eagerly to accept government regulations as a spiritual challenge – almost as a test of their moral strength. Mark Haber, operations manager at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, told me that his staff had exhibited a selection of books that evaporate from Texas school libraries. (Beloved and Crying in H-Mart Michelle Zauner are doing very well.) “We had a ride where people could buy a banned book as a gift for a free library somewhere in town,” says Haber. “Prohibitions seem so organized. They don’t focus on a specific book, they focus on ‘books’ in general. “

Brazos is, of course, part of Houston’s liberal enclave. There is self-choice in sales and customer data, which Haber is happy to admit. “It’s definitely a political stance,” he says. “We have customers who may have already read the book and want to buy it again.”

In fact, Cymrot tells me that he thinks the increase in the book ban is really a phenomenon on both sides. He notices the increase no matter which side repairs the library. Earlier this year, when six books by Dr. Seuss left the circulation due to some offensive cartoons on the site, Riverby flourished again. “These paperbacks in our cellar suddenly became collectibles,” he says.

At the very least, censorship campaigns can encourage children to read more. I like the idea of ​​enterprising teenagers who have Krause’s agenda as a summer reading list, ticking off each title, one by one, until they open their third eye tightly.

One of the most encouraging stories that came out of the hysteria happened in York County, Pennsylvania, where local ordinances last November banned teachers from using a variety of texts in their curricula. (This taxonomy was bizarre. The biographies of Aretha Franklin, Malala Júsufzai, and Eleanor Roosevelt were placed on ice.)

Today, the confluence of students and teachers who lifted the ban is known as the Panthers Anti-Rasist Union, named after the mascot of a high school in Central York. The group aims to continue to promote social justice in the future, which could soon result in much bolder action than the flour tendencies of the local school board.

“We have always said that this organization is about creating a safe space for everyone to talk about who they are and what their problems are. Not only in our school community, but also in their lives, ”says Edha Gupta, a senior at a high school in Central York and a member of the Panthers Anti-Rasist Union. “Any healthy way people can honestly express how they feel about these matters. We want a place where students feel they have the power to talk about what they enjoy. ”

“I went through the list of banned books and I thought they sound great. My mother had tons of them, I got more from random people, “says Olivia Pituch, another member of the department. “It’s funny, thanks to the ban, I was more curious about what they were about.”

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