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The Truth About "Banned" Books

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  s  •  one month ago  •  23 comments

The Truth About "Banned" Books
The left claims that progressive books are being censored in public schools. But my research proves the opposite is true.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


 

Over  the last couple years, the media have peddled a narrative of “book bans” sweeping the nation. Book bans (ostensibly by the right) are “eating away at democracy,”   according to   The   Guardian , and are “taking an emotional toll,”   warned CNN . The outrage has reached such a fever pitch that free-speech advocacy group PEN America   co-filed a lawsuit   (along with parents, authors, and publisher Penguin Random House) against Florida’s Escambia County School District and School Board, accusing them of removing books “discussing race, racism, and LGBTQ identities.”   Oral arguments   in the court case began on January 10.

But the truth is a lot more complicated. 

Last spring, I wrote about the   hijacking of high school debate   for   The Free Press . I detailed how judges disqualify students for advancing conservative arguments that the judges personally disagree with—effectively taking the debate out of high school debate.

Since that article, I’ve spent time meeting with students, parents, teachers, and school board members. Several students complained that their school libraries had become one-sided, offering only books in line with progressive orthodoxy. 

So I decided to investigate just how one-sided things actually are. I surveyed the library catalogs of 35 of the largest public school districts in eight red states and six blue states, representing over 4,600 individual schools. All of these records are publicly available online. (Here are just three online catalogs I searched:   Broward County, FL ,   Austin, TX , and   Oklahoma City, OK .) What I discovered isn’t so much a problem of banned books. It’s that kids are often exposed to only one side of the story. 

For example,   How to Be an Antiracist   by Ibram X. Kendi, which argues that the “only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination,” is stocked in 42 percent of the U.S. school districts I surveyed.

Meanwhile, only a single school district—Northside Independent School District (ISD) in San Antonio, Texas—offers students   Woke Racism   by John McWhorter, a book that challenges the borderline religious “anti-racist” ideas advanced by Kendi.

Felix Ever After , a book by Kacen Callender that claims that girls who hate “being forced into dresses and being given dolls” are transgender, is available in 77 percent of the districts I surveyed. But not a single school out of the nearly 5,000 I searched offers books critical of trans theory. Students won’t find books like   Trans   by Helen Joyce or   Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters   by Abigail Shrier, both recent bestsellers that present skeptical takes on the rapid rise of transgender identification among adolescents.

Memoirs by nonprogressive leaders are also notably scarce. While   Dreams from My Father , the memoir by former Democratic president Barack Obama, is found in 75 percent of sampled districts, and   Becoming   by his wife Michelle is found in 65 percent, memoirs by Republican politicians Nikki Haley, Vivek Ramaswamy, Mike Pompeo, Tim Scott, and Ron DeSantis are essentially nowhere to be found. 

Here is the percentage, out of the 35 school districts, that stock each book:

Nation of Victims , by Vivek Ramaswamy: 0%

If You Want Something Done , by Nikki Haley: 0%

Never Give an Inch , by Mike Pompeo: 0%

America, a Redemption Story , by Tim Scott: 0%

The Courage to Be Free , by Ron DeSantis: 0%

So Help Me God , by Mike Pence: 6% (Northside ISD in San Antonio, Texas, and Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, Virginia, are the two districts that stock this book).

The American Library Association and groups like PEN America have raised alarm bells ( and millions   in donations) by warning of “the continued rise in   attempts to censor books   and materials in public school and academic libraries.” PEN America estimated that   2,532 books were removed   from schools in 32 states during the 2021–2022 school year. 

But an   investigation by the Heritage Foundation   found that 74 percent of those so-called banned books are actually widely available to students. My own research uncovered the same. In some cases, such as when Amanda Gorman’s   The Hill We Climb   poetry book was supposedly “ banned ” by the Miami–Dade County school district, it was actually   just moved   from the elementary to the middle school section of the library. And   Gender Queer , a graphic memoir for teens about gender identity that   The   New York Times   called “ the most banned book in the country ,” was available in about 25 percent of the school library districts I surveyed.

Yet, there are still books that are being pulled from some school library shelves, largely over objections to their ideological arguments. In Martin County, FL, the book   Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You   by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi was removed from the shelf. Parents from far and wide have objected to   Stamped   because, as North Carolina mom Katie Gates told her school board in January 2022, the book “contains Marxist ideology” and “inaccurate reframing of history.”

She’s not wrong.   Stamped   argues, among other things, that the phrase “law and order” is a racial slur and that “the only thing extraordinary about White people is that they think something is extraordinary about White people.” I’ve read it twice. It’s a deeply flawed book, but why is removing it seemingly the only option? Leave it on the shelves so long as it’s accompanied by books that offer a contrasting viewpoint. I believe students should be able to access it in their school library so long as they can access books from the likes of Thomas Sowell and John McWhorter, offering them a range of viewpoints.



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Let’s just take a look at what books are available on an issue like the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

Seventeen percent of surveyed districts carry   Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement , in which author Angela Davis argues that the “. . . repression associated with Israeli settler colonialism was so evident and so blatant” and that “the Israeli military made no attempt to conceal. . . the violence they inflicted on the Palestinian people.” The school libraries of Broward County, FL, alone have 16 copies of Davis’s book, and precisely zero copies of   Bibi: My Story , Benjamin Netanyahu’s autobiography, which refutes Davis’s allegations. (Of the 35 school districts sampled, only one carries   Bibi —Northside ISD, once again.)

Recently, we have seen reports on the   rise of antisemitism   in American schools. According to a   Harvard Harris Poll   from last month, 67 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds believe that “Jews are oppressors” and “should be treated as such.” Is this at all surprising if students aren’t being exposed to viewpoints that counter this argument?

Should libraries carry books that peddle progressive ideas? Absolutely, but only if they carry books that advocate for conservative ones too, so our young minds can benefit from the full spectrum of opinions. Unfortunately, in the school districts I surveyed, this isn’t the case.

I looked up books written by some of the world’s most well-known progressive thinkers. Here is the percentage, out of the 35 school districts, that stock each book:

Title and Percentage of 35 Districts 

The Communist Manifesto   (Karl Marx) — 75%

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent   (Isabel Wilkerson) — 60%

The 1619 Project   (Nikole Hannah-Jones) — 54%

Stamped   (Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi) — 71%

An African American and Latinx History of the U.S.   (Paul Ortiz) — 40%

The New Jim Crow   (Michelle Alexander) — 60%

Guide to Political Revolution   (Bernie Sanders) — 40%

White Fragility   (Robin DiAngelo) — 54%

So You Want to Talk About Race   (Ijeoma Oluo) — 57%

This Book Is Anti-Racist   (Tiffany Jewell) — 45%

White Rage   (Carol Anderson) — 17%

Meanwhile, I looked up books written by some of the world’s most well-known conservative thinkers. Here is the percentage, out of the 35 school districts, that stock each book:

Capitalism and Freedom   (Milton Friedman) — 8%

Created Equal   (Dr. Ben Carson) — 5%

Woke Racism   (John McWhorter) — 3%

Breaking History   (Jared Kushner) — 2%

Social Justice Fallacies   (Thomas Sowell) — 0%

The War on the West   (Douglas Murray) — 0%

The 1619 Project: A Critique   (Phillip W. Magness) — 0%

The Case Against Impeaching Trump   (Alan Dershowitz) — 0%

Decades of Decadence   (Marco Rubio) — 0%

The Diversity Delusion   (Heather Mac Donald) — 0%

The Case for Trump   (Victor Davis Hanson) — 0%

It’s no secret that many school libraries have become reflections of politicized librarians. Take Emily Drabinski, president of the American Library Association and a self-proclaimed Marxist, who said during a socialism conference last September in Chicago that public education “needs to be   a site of socialist organizing . I think libraries really do, too. We need to be on the agenda of socialist organizing.”

Or Jillian Woychowski, the librarian at West Haven High in West Haven, Connecticut. At a   2019 committee meeting   of the American Library Association, she proudly declared that “We’re using less of what I call the dead, white guy books. We’re including books by authors of color and women.” 

Jillian’s gatekeeping is part of a larger movement among librarians known as “critical librarianship,” which the American Library Association   defines as   “challenging regressive conceptions of gender identity in cataloging” and “documenting microaggressions in librarianship.” 

Meanwhile, America’s one-sided school libraries are failing students. No wonder only 16 percent of Gen Z says they are proud to live in America, according to a January 2023   Morning Consult poll . They don’t have access to books that present our country in an honest light. And is it any surprise that 76 percent of Gen Z and millennial women wouldn’t date a Republican, according to a   Change Research poll   from September? They’ve likely never been exposed to conservative ideas, and thus, entirely dismiss conservatives as people.

As a teenager with strong conservative viewpoints (owing to Grandpa Cliff), my school library was the one place I could access ideas different from my own. Were it not for my school library, I would never have discovered or been challenged by the writings of Cornel West, Glenn Greenwald, and Noam Chomsky. My school library did the same for my progressive friends. They were equally challenged by the writings of Ben Carson, Thomas Sowell, and Milton Friedman.

As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.   once said , people fear each other because they don’t know each other, and “they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other.” Books are perhaps the greatest pathway to communication for a divided nation. They offer a deep and uninterrupted way to engage with ideas and perspectives vastly different from our own. At a time of profound national division, the skill of appreciating and understanding the other side, even if you vehemently disagree, is more important than ever.


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Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1  seeder  Sean Treacy    one month ago

Interesting perspective on the reality of what's been going on in school libraries. While public freak outs over a book being placed on the shelf for the age group recommended by the book's publisher draws national attention and hysterical comparisons to NAzis, the objective data paints a picture of a much different partisan agenda to deny children an exposure to diverse ideas.   Progressives control school libraries, much as they've controlled every pretty much every  aspect of childhood education the last 50 years.  So it's not really a surprise to see how they use that power to limit the ideas kids are exposed to.  Goes hand in hand in with a ideaology obsessed that believes "diversity" means people with different skin color all with rigid conformity in thought. 

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
1.1  CB  replied to  Sean Treacy @1    one month ago
Goes hand in hand in with a ideaology obsessed that believes "diversity" means people with different skin color all with rigid conformity in thought. 

A hard to comprehend hidden meaning in the sentence construction. Please elaborate.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.1.1  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  CB @1.1    one month ago
Please elaborate.

As Eli Steele wrote "Here’s a fact. Not one single diversity or DEI officer ever cared that I overcame being born profoundly deaf to become an independent adult. The only thing they cared about was me reducing my multiple races down to the black box in the name of diversity."  Diversity, in DEI, only means race. It's sees no value in adding actual diverse perspectives. 

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
1.1.2  CB  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.1    one month ago

Overcoming' a disability (to an acceptable degree) is not a be all to end all that is accomplished through DEI. And if the definition of DEI as you define it is narrow-it can and will be widened to include additional perspectives. It does not follow that it should be scrapped, as though diversity, equity, and inclusion are anathema to the good of the country. That is just more 'blocking' and obstructing rhetoric from some conservatives.

 
 
 
Texan1211
Professor Principal
1.1.3  Texan1211  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.1    one month ago

Eli Steele is nobody's victim!

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.1.4  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  CB @1.1.2    one month ago
It does not follow that it should be scrapped, as though diversity, equity, and inclusion are anathema to the good of the country.

Of course it deoes. Because "DEI" is just  an Orwell like abuse of the language to cover up the reality of systematic  racial discrimination. 

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
1.1.5  CB  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.1.4    one month ago

That is rhetorical mumble-jumble. Or filler. Please rewrite it so it can be understood by all.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.2  Kavika   replied to  Sean Treacy @1    one month ago

You should have a long talk with Bombastic Bill O'Reilly his books have been banned according to him.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.2.1  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Kavika @1.2    one month ago

And he's wrong. 

 
 
 
bugsy
Professor Participates
1.2.2  bugsy  replied to  Kavika @1.2    one month ago

By one school district in Florida. Big whoopie!!!

Anyone that wants his books can go just about anywhere to get it.

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Expert
1.2.3  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  bugsy @1.2.2    one month ago

Weren't even banned:

  spokesperson for Escambia County Public Schools Superintendent, Cody Strother, told  the Pensacola News Journal : "The 1,000+ books ... have not been banned or removed from the school district; rather, they have simply been pulled for further review to ensure compliance with the new legislation." In a Thursday statement to the USA TODAY Network-Florida, its superintendent, Keith Leonard, bashed news outlets that he said "sensationalize(d) this situation." He dismissed the idea that the books were "banned."

Just more hyperventilating

 
 
 
bugsy
Professor Participates
1.2.4  bugsy  replied to  Sean Treacy @1.2.3    one month ago

[Deleted]

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
2  devangelical    one month ago

can't get the school kids to read, huh? gee, maybe it's the subject matter...

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
3  CB    one month ago
At a time of profound national division, the skill of appreciating and understanding the other side, even if you vehemently disagree, is more important than ever.

So, let us be the 'leaders' on NT at finally ending this talking past one another and actually talk to each other—all mocking and condescension set aside. If us old folks can get our collective rhetoric in synch, perhaps the youth can get it together 'following.' 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1  Sparty On  replied to  CB @3    one month ago

The problem is not talking past each other.    It’s a read comprehension issue.    Sean’s point is clear as distilled water in a clean glass.     To the unbiased eye that is ….

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
3.1.1  CB  replied to  Sparty On @3.1    one month ago

Some conservatives are partisan. Specifically, negative partisans. We all know this from recent experiences across many discussions. Therefore, for the sake of time, do not be pretentious. Be open and truthful as you insist others should be.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  CB @3.1.1    one month ago

Nothing pretentious about the truth.

Nothing

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
3.1.3  CB  replied to  Sparty On @3.1.2    one month ago

You need to make a point. Nuh-uh is not a discussion material.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Sparty On  replied to  CB @3.1.3    one month ago

See 3.1 …. Beyond that, this just the usual NT circle jerk

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
3.1.5  CB  replied to  Sparty On @3.1.4    one month ago

You demonstrate the point I was stating: Talking pass one another and its getting worse! as adults, we ought to do better than "troll-farm" -level engagements and interactions!

All books are not equal. As disinformation and misinformation and propaganda are listed on the 'spectrum.' Sharing it, in any form for any objective, is not helpful to the whole of the country, maybe to partisans who love to obstruct good order and discipline.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.6  Sparty On  replied to  CB @3.1.5    one month ago

Have a nice day CB.

 
 
 
CB
Professor Principal
3.1.7  CB  replied to  Sparty On @3.1.6    one month ago

You too! Remember: "Good order and discipline." :) 

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.8  Sparty On  replied to  CB @3.1.7    one month ago

jrSmiley_9_smiley_image.gif Always

 
 

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