On May 10, 1933 the Nazi party hosted the most notorious book burning in history. It’s estimated that more than 25,000 books across Germany were burned in a single day. The images that came from the event brought outrage and protest in America along with a shift in strategy by those who wish to control what types of books are available to Americans from burning to bans.
The American Library association estimates that 11,000 books or more have been challenged in an attempt to remove them from classrooms or libraries in the last 30 years. The latest attack comes form a school board in Tennessee that is removing the holocaust illustrated novel Maus from its 8th grade curriculum.
The reasons behind the ban are the use of curse words and nude mice. The board found the book inappropriate for their students and made national news just days before Holocaust remembrance Day. The media rush has propelled an enormous surge in sales for Maus.
The images depicted in Maus pale in comparison to the graphic material available to today’s youth. We live in a World where on any given night crime dramas depict horrible acts against humanity on network television. That makes it hard to imagine why a school board is coming together to ban a book documenting a tale from one of the most horrific periods in human history.
Tennessee is not the only place where books are under attack. Other state governments have instructed their school boards to investigate what books are being used in their schools and whether or not they are appropriate. Some fear that books dealing with LGBQT and other issues that are relevant to some of the most vulnerable teenagers in our country are coming under attack.
We live in an era of unprecedented access to information, but there are still fundamentalists of all shapes working to limit the information available to us, our teachers and our librarians. Do we stand by and allow their version of the World to be the only one that is available to be taught?
Whether it is liberal extremists working to cancel Joe Rogan over his work involving Covid-19, or conservative fundamentalists working to limit the texts that are available to our teachers and librarians, do we want them to have control? Or do we want to have the freedom to explore the information that is available to us? It’s up to us to care more about our freedom than fundamentalists of any form care about taking it.