What banning books means

Brad Jennings
Posted 2/22/22

Banning books is a sure sign of a culture in decline.

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What banning books means


Banning books is a sure sign of a culture in decline.

It actually makes me, as an American, truly feel sick to my stomach. But book banning seems to be back in some southern states, and we are not the better for it.

Texas has moved to ban books including “Maus,” which is aimed at younger readers. It illustrates the dangers of racial segregation and genocide. Those sound like topics that should be taught to younger students to me.

Tennessee, Alabama, Oklahoma – all looking at banning books. Books about racism and sexual identity are favorite targets.

Alabama’s governor talked with pride about banning books. Alabama ranks near the bottom in education in the nation, and in the past has ranked dead last. Maybe the governor should be talking about people reading more books instead of banning ones that don’t match up with her world view.

To be clear, this is about the culture wars people yell about these days. Things that make you uncomfortable? Ban them.

It is like this critical race theory nonsense. Not teaching kids about the horrible racial past – and present – in this country doesn’t mean it didn’t and isn’t happening. It did and it is and trying to bury that will only come back to haunt all of us.

I understand that some topics can make people of a certain age or religion or even political slant uncomfortable. Hey, the world is changing and that can be scary, especially for people who have always seen the world through their own narrow lens.

But banning books and refusing to teach true history because it makes some uncomfortable is simply wrongheaded. These books will be even more sought out. And the history some hope to bury will be taught and discussed in even more depth.

If you can’t face the fact that white people have a long history of horrible treatment of minorities in this country, you are burying your head in the sand. I am not saying you, as an individual. But in a general way? It is impossible to deny.

In many of your lifetimes black Americans couldn’t enter the same door of a restaurant or drink at the same water fountain.

Black veterans did not get the same benefits as white veterans after World War II. Is that fair? Should we ignore that?

No, it is not fair. No, we should not ignore it.

The New Yorker wrote an interesting piece about this horrible injustice to those veterans back in 2016. It makes me feel a pit in my gut just thinking about it.

Yes, those things should be taught. We need to make sure we move forward together in this country. One way we do that is by facing the past and present and working to make things better.

Banning books and burying horrible history that makes a certain group uncomfortable is not what America is all about. America is not a place for a single group of like-minded people to flourish while others suffer.

If you think it is, you are in the wrong country.

Look at the history of banning books in other countries – it is not a good thing. Knowing more will help us as a nation, not knowing less.

We are better than this, and we need to show it.

Brad Jennings is the editor of the Ogle County Life.