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Banned Books Week serves as a reminder about GOP censorship

Banned Books Week serves as a reminder about GOP censorship
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In honor of Banned Books Week, I’ve assembled a convenient list — from A to Z — that helps encapsulate the conservative movement’s efforts to ban and obscure teachings about social inequality.

Check it out!

A

is for Arkansas. The state’s conservative leaders have been among the most rabid in the country with regard to banning books and trying to whitewash history.

B

is for book burning, a popular practice in repressive societies that appears to be gaining in popularity among some conservatives.

C

is for critical race theory, the high-level field of academic study that focuses on the way racism is systemic in the nation’s institutions. Conservatives have sought to make the term toxic and use it as a catch-all reference to discussions — or in-school reading materials — about inequality, which they think should be banned from the classroom. 

D

is for discipline centers. Earlier this year, the Houston school system decided to eliminate librarian positions and repurpose some school libraries into centers where students accused of misbehaving can be sent. The plan raised concerns about a de-emphasis on education and an overemphasis on punishment.

E

is for ethnonationalism, a system of beliefs in which national identity is interwoven with a particular race or ethnic identity — such as “whiteness” — that is assigned supremacy over others.

F

is for facts, or truthful statements. (Also: frequent targets of conservatives looking to whitewash history.)

G

is for gay, a sexual orientation deemed by conservatives to be unmentionable in classrooms.

H

is for hate, a motivator behind the incessant right-wing push to obscure accurate teachings of history.

I

is for Illinois, the first state to ban book bans.

J

is for James Baldwin, the famed Black author and frequent target of book bans. (Read Baldwin’s thoughts on the threat Black perspectives pose to white supremacy here.)

K

is for Kimberlé Crenshaw, the esteemed lawyer and scholar — and founding practitioner of critical race theory.

L

is for Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson of North Carolina, a conservative extremist who has sought to ban books about LGBTQ people and has floated not teaching science and social studies until sixth grade.

M

is for Moms for Liberty, the Florida-based extremist group. Its members often portray themselves as “mama bear” types, and they think censoring curricula is what’s best for America’s kids.

N

is for neo-Nazis, the modern movement of people looking to carry forward the ideals of Germany’s fascist Nazi party. Banning and burning books was popular with Nazis, and the rise of book bans in the U.S. appears to coincide with emboldened neo-Nazi groups in various parts of the country. 

O

is for the Ocoee massacre, in which Black Floridians were killed on Election Day in 1920 for exercising their right to vote. Under Florida’s new education guidelines, students will need to be taught that such race massacres also involved violence from African American perpetrators — rather than being one-sided assaults on human and civil rights. 

P

is for PragerU, a conservative advocacy organization whose videos and other propagandistic learning materials have been approved for use in schools in Florida, Oklahoma and potentially Texas

Q

is for queer studies, a field of academic study that focuses on the lived experiences of LGBTQ people. (Also: a target of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and other right-wing officials.)

R

is for Ryan Walters, Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction. His archconservative viewpoints have helped make him one of the most prominent education officials in the country.

S

is for social-emotional learning, a teaching concept employed to help children learn to manage their emotions and practice empathy. SEL has come under fire from conspiratorial parents.

T

is for Tom Horne, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction and arguably a pioneer of the movement to outlaw culturally inclusive education.

U

is for unconscious, the preferred mental state of those who wish to obscure accurate teachings of social inequality (i.e., the opposite of “woke”).

V

is for Virginia, where Republicans arguably soft-launched their crusade against educational efforts to encourage diversity and equality.

W

is for woke, a term created by Black people as a reference to cultural consciousness and awareness of social ills. White conservatives have appropriated it as shorthand for what they suggest — often, clumsily — is a ruinous state of being.

X

is for xenophobia, the fear, hatred or distrust of people from other countries. Critics of book bans and repressive education policies argue that the right-wing efforts are rooted in xenophobic views of American exceptionalism.

Y

is for the youth, an apparent obsession of book-banning conservatives. In their messaging, Moms for Liberty chapters have been known to deploy a quote attributed to Adolf Hitler that refers to controlling the youth.

Z

is for zealot, a fanatical partisan. (Also: an apt descriptor of people who strive to block accurate teachings of history.)



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