Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad: April 23 The Washington Post argues that banning books about…
Excerpts from recent editorials in the United States and abroad:
The Washington Post argues that banning books about Black and LGBTQ people is un-American
As if there were not enough challenges facing the United States right now, Americans have to be on alert for a resurgence of book-banning campaigns at their local libraries. Across the nation, groups of mostly White conservatives are demanding that books be locked up or taken off the shelves entirely. Their main targets? Books about Black and LGBTQ people.
The numbers are staggering. The American Library Association recorded 729 challenges to library, school and university materials in 2021 that targeted more than 1,500 different book titles. That’s a record for attempted book bans since the ALA started tracking them in 2000. A similar analysis by PEN America from July through March found 1,586 instances of books being banned.
Attempts to censor and ban books are not a new phenomenon. In 1650, Puritans in the Massachusetts Bay Colony tried to get what they thought were blasphemous books removed from their community. But what sets this latest wave of book banning apart is how much of it is being driven by politicians. PEN America found that more than 40% of the bans were “tied to directives from state officials or elected lawmakers to investigate or remove books in schools.” The Post’s Annie Gowen chronicled how a Texas county judge personally walked into a local library and took books off the shelves, ignoring the library’s procedures in which a person is supposed to fill out a challenge form to be reviewed by librarians.
The United States was founded on the principle of freedom of expression. We might not always like what our neighbors and fellow citizens have to say, but watching the severe restriction of news and information flow in Russia is the latest reminder of how quickly censorship can turn into something truly sinister. Librarian and editor Mary Jo Godwin once said that a truly great…