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  • Susan Stoderl

An Attack on Literacy: Book Banning, Attacks on Teachers and Libraries

“A democratic civilization will save itself only if it makes the language of the image into a stimulus for critical reflection—not an invitation for hypnosis.” ~ Umberto Eco

Paraphrased in a simpler, perhaps starker way, a democratic civilization can only survive when the image presented stimulates critical thinking and reflection—not brainwashing. A Washington Post analysis found just over 1,000 total book challenges occurred in the 2021-22 school year, but within the first half of the 2022-23 school year, PEN America listed 1,477 book challenges, almost a three-fold increase. Most challenges occurred in Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Utah, and Missouri, all of which are notorious for low funding of public education and lower teachers’ salaries. In terms of high school graduation, the first three states were in the mid-80th percentile, while Missouri barely eked into the 90th percentile, and Utah slightly higher. Not graduating from high school has an immense financial impact on the rest of that person’s life and their family's financial stability. Their children’s future is also harmed.

Book banning has several common themes with “being woke:” Take action first without regard for research on the results of the action. Education and critical thinking are “woke.” Science is to be ignored and debunked, rather than used to improve knowledge. Other signs of “wokeness” include sexism, misogyny, racial and cultural intolerance, condemnation of any sexuality other than traditional male/female marriage, and only limited sex education classes in public schools. This is supposedly the “Voice of the People.”

And yet, is it?

“Seventy percent of parents surveyed believe that ‘[c]omprehensive sex education is important for the well-being of children…'” Parent Magazine, Survey March 23-30, 2023.
“Large majorities—more than 8 in 10—don’t think books should be banned from schools for discussing race and criticizing U.S. history, for depicting slavery in the past or more broadly for political ideas they disagree with.” CBS Poll Feb. 15-18, 2022.


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