Banning Books … What’s Next … Burning Books?

The book Maus by Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, the first graphic novel to win the Pulitzer.  According to Amazon …

The first installment of the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker).

A brutally moving work of art—widely hailed as the greatest graphic novel ever written—Maus recounts the chilling experiences of the author’s father during the Holocaust, with Jews drawn as wide-eyed mice and Nazis as menacing cats.

Maus is a haunting tale within a tale, weaving the author’s account of his tortured relationship with his aging father into an astonishing retelling of one of history’s most unspeakable tragedies. It is an unforgettable story of survival and a disarming look at the legacy of trauma.

This week, a Tennessee school board voted to ban Maus.  Says Spiegelman …

“It’s part of a continuum, and just a harbinger of things to come. The control of people’s thoughts is essential to all of this.”

Sound rather Orwellian?  Well, guess what … George Orwell’s most famous novel, 1984, has been banned repeatedly in many places in the U.S. along with other classics such as The Great Gatsby, Huckleberry Finn, and a host of others.

Schools and libraries that have banned books are essentially depriving young people of the opportunity to learn, to become functional adults who understand both what is right and what is wrong with the world we live in.  The latest trend in education seems to be to whitewash history or teach a revisionist version of history and this is just WRONG!  We are told that it is wrong to teach something that might make students feel ‘uncomfortable.’  Bullshit!  Life can sometimes be very uncomfortable, but we cannot simply don our rose-coloured glasses and turn a blind eye to such things as racism, police brutality, an over-reaching government, or the darker periods in history such as the Holocaust, slavery, Jim Crow, and more.  Reality is … you cannot bury the past and expect future generations to understand what NOT to do!

After reading about the decision to ban Maus, I started digging a bit to see what other books have been banned and … my jaw dropped all the way to the floor!  A few examples …

Toni Morrison’s Beloved … Set after the American Civil War, it tells the story of a family of former slaves whose Cincinnati home is haunted by a malevolent spirit. Beloved is inspired by an event that actually happened: Margaret Garner, an enslaved person in Kentucky, who escaped and fled to the free state of Ohio in 1856. She was subject to capture in accordance with the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; when U.S. marshals burst into the cabin where Garner and her husband had barricaded themselves, she was attempting to kill her children, and had already killed her two-year-old daughter, to spare them from being returned to slavery.  Beloved has been banned from at least five U.S. schools.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2009 at number 17th.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, The Color Purple is a powerful cultural touchstone of modern American literature, depicting the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.

Their Eyes Were Watching God, a 1937 novel by American writer Zora Neale Hurston, is considered a classic of the Harlem Renaissance, and Hurston’s best known work. The novel explores main character Janie Crawford’s “ripening from a vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny”. Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel was initially poorly received. Since the late 20th century, it has been regarded as influential to both African-American literature and women’s literature. TIME included the novel in its 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923.

That classic tale by Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird, was once banned in Mississippi schools because one parent reported that “her son was uncomfortable with the N-word.”  Reality, my friends, is often harsh, but we must learn from it!  How are we to improve, become better people than our ancestors were, if we hide the truth, turn a blind eye to the past?

And the list goes on … and on … and on.

Last year, a group in Tennessee calling themselves “Moms for Liberty” demanded that lessons about Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruby Bridges be cut for being divisive, lessons about civil rights crackdowns be cut for “negative views of firemen and police,” and even took issue with a book about … seahorses, claiming that the seahorses were shown being ‘sexy’!  For the love of Pete, where are these damn fools coming from???

Now, I could understand if schools were banning something along the lines of how-to sex manuals or tips for getting away with murder, but the books being banned are those that teach the valuable lessons of history, both in this country and others.  Our young people MUST learn about our past, must learn what we did right as well as what we did wrong, otherwise in no way will they be prepared to enter the world of adulthood, the real world!

Banning books … there is nothing to justify it and it is eerily reminiscent of times and places that led to horrible outcomes.  Are we destined to keep repeating the same history, the same mistakes, over and over until the human species finally obliterates itself?  Think about it.

Note to Readers:  Just as I finished editing and scheduling this post, I saw a post by John Pavlovitz along these lines and he says it better than I, so if you have a minute, drop in and read his view, too!

Another Note to Readers:  Annie over at AnnieAsksYou also wrote on this topic today and I think you’ll find much of her information to be surprising and enlightening!  Thank you, Annie!

Snarky Snippets Are Baaaack!

It’s been a while since I released a full stream of snarky snippets … been taking it a bit easy, trying to keep the snark at bay, but … well, that only works for so long, y’know.

Say WHAT???

Harry-PotterWhen Miss Goose was young, I read to her the first Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” (first published as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK).  I liked it much better than she did, and I went on to read the next 2 or 3 in the series … by myself.  Although I’ve never been a fan of fantasy fiction, I have to admit they are fun books.  Harmless fun with lovable characters.  But apparently the Catholic Church doesn’t think so.

St. Edward Catholic school in Nashville has removed the Harry Potter books from its library, saying …

“These books present magic as both good and evil, which is not true, but in fact a clever deception. The curses and spells used in the books are actual curses and spells; which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits into the presence of the person reading the text.”

Oh bullcrap!  Yes, that noise you hear is me stomping my feet, not the presence of evil spirits!

According to Rebecca Hammel, superintendent of schools for the Catholic diocese of Nashville …

“We really don’t get into censorship in such selections other than making sure that what we put in our school libraries are age-appropriate materials for our classrooms.”

Well if this isn’t censorship, lady, then I must not understand the meaning of the word.  I was not aware, but the Harry Potter series has drawn criticism from religious groups before.  In 2001, the pastor of Christ Community Church in Alamogordo, New Mexico oversaw a book burning of the Potter books, and a local library responded with a dedicated display, telling the public that “Harry is alive and well at the library”.

While he was still a cardinal in 2003, the future Pope Benedict XVI described the books as “subtle seductions which act unnoticed and by this deeply distort Christianity in the soul before it can grow properly”.

Wake up churches … we have entered the 21st century!  Harry Potter books are fun!  They are harmless!  There ain’t no evil spirits planning to descend upon those who read these books!

A veteran speaks …

Last week, a spokesperson for Bozo in the Oval announced that “in certain cases”, children born to U.S. service members or government employees stationed abroad may not automatically be eligible for citizenship under the new Trump rules.

Tammy-DuckworthTammy Duckworth is a former U.S. Army lieutenant colonel who has served as the junior United States Senator from Illinois since 2017.  While serving in the Iraq War as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot, Ms. Duckworth suffered severe combat wounds, which caused her to lose both of her legs and some mobility in her right arm. She was the first female double amputee from the war. Despite her grievous injuries, she sought and obtained a medical waiver which allowed her to continue serving as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Senator Duckworth penned a letter to Kevin McAleenan, the acting director of homeland security, stating her objections to the new policy.  Her letter bears reading …

Duckworth-1duckworth-2.pngDuckworth-3What’s next, folks?  Trump claims to love the military, love veterans, but thus far his policies have done nothing positive for them.

Spittin’ in the wind?

I really didn’t set out with the intention of picking on religion tonight … I try hard to bite my tongue where religion is concerned, but at the moment, my tongue is already bleeding.

Florida is bracing for the arrival of Hurricane Dorian.  I’ve seen countless pictures of people filling sandbags, boarding windows, helping others move inland, stocking up on supplies, and more.  But, these people …pray-ers

… gathered on the Jacksonville Beach Pier to pray the storm away.  Yes, you heard me right!  They say they are telling the storm to “calm down”.  I put this one right up there with people sending “thoughts and prayers” after a mass shooting, but then admittedly I am a cynic.  The group says they did the same thing two years ago while awaiting the arrival of Hurricane Irma.  Did that work well for them?  Well, let’s see …

Hurricane Irma delivered an $85 million hit to the city of Jacksonville, according to the city’s most recent cost estimates.

The biggest share of the total is about $40 million for hauling away all the debris left behind by the storm, followed by $16.6 million for dunes and berms, and $15.3 million for personnel and equipment costs for emergency response operations.

The total financial impact on city government is almost twice the $45 million expense dealt by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

I’m thinking maybe not so much.  And during Irma, they even had the help of some 59,000 people who had the brilliant idea to point fans toward the east and blow the hurricane back out to sea!  Imagine how much worse Irma might have been if she hadn’t been thwarted by all that hot air!fans-Irma


Okay … I’m done snarking for tonight.  I’m fairly certain I’ll have more soon, though.  Meanwhile, to all my friends and readers in the path of Hurricane Dorian, please keep safe and let us know you’re okay.  Love you all!