The right in this country is banning books again. This time, we cannot learn about the Holocaust from a book with vulgarities, regardless of the vulgarity of the Holocaust. The Bluest Eye is banned, as it often has been, because of its depiction of sexual violence and racial violence, regardless of the truth of those events.
Many Americans, whipped up by demagogues and ideologues and charlatans are questioning how students are taught, wanting to make sure we return to the whitewashing of history that was prevalent during Boomer childhood. For example:
“With all the drawbacks of slavery, it should be noted that slavery was the earliest form of social security in the United States,” students read in Alabama history textbooks of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. And there was this: “A jail sentence or the execution of a slave was considered to be more of a punishment for the master than for the slave, because the slave was such valuable property.”
A Virginia textbook of the same era told students that Virginia “offered a better life for the Negroes than did Africa. In his new home, the Negro was far away from the spears and war clubs of enemy tribes. He had some of the comforts of civilized life.”
The punishment of enslaved people was described as rare and unfortunate, but necessary. “Most masters did not want to punish their slaves severely,” the Virginia textbook read. “In those days whipping was also the usual method of correcting children. The planter looked upon his slaves as children and punished them as such.”
– From Joe Helm in Teaching America’s truth, August 28, 2019
It seems that the alt-right insult of just a few years ago now applies more strongly to the right wing itself, which now offers up a call in hotline for parents who don’t like what their children are being taught in school.
As a kid, I remember watching Field of Dreams, and there being absolutely no question about who the heroes were– not the folks banning books, which was anachronistic in 1989.
What does this all add up to?
A fearful level of anti-intellectualism, a total denial of our own history which can only hault social progress, and endless division and strife as America slides further from its ideals and toward its past.
The arc of the moral universe is snapping back, and it’s hitting way harder than a slap.