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Holy cow pie! The Bible continues to be one of the most frequent targets of book banners in our country. Not in some Muslim or Hindu country, not in Israel, but here where 65 percent of our population describe themselves as Christian. It’s one of 40 books removed from libraries “for evaluation” in one Texas school district as recently as 2017.
Book banners want it out of schools and libraries where, they insist, “it could destroy the moral values of children.” A Christian pop star, Phillip Larue, identified part of the problem. “ … the Bible is sometimes challenged because of sexual content inappropriate to minors.” Honest to God!
Some of the secular self-anointed saints contend the Bible sitting on the shelf violates the separation of church and state which, of course, it doesn’t. The absurdity of banning a book that can be found in over 350,000 American churches and in millions of homes seems obvious. The Bible is a holy book, not pornography, for the 65 percent of Americans who are Christians. For many of the rest of us it is literature worth reading
But book banning is a favorite hobby of some people, almost always of the far right. They enjoy, with a tyrant’s glee, telling teachers and librarians, really all of us, “you will be free my way. Here’s what you can read.”
“Moms for Liberty” is the largest of groups seeking to ban books. It’s just a year old, but already has 200 chapters across the country. During the 2021-22 school year, Moms with allies were in138 school districts and in 32 states. (There is a chapter in Linn County). There are over 2,500 books targeted for removal by various groups. School librarians have been harassed by members of Moms and driven from their careers of service to our kids.
For some banners any book discussing sex, race, violence, rape, genocide, and slavery is verboten. Right now, the passion is to ban books that say “gay.” But books by women and particularly Black women are regular targets as well. Ban books for being anti-white, whatever that is. Ban books for using words you don’t say in church but use in the kitchen when you burn the pizza.
Is this year different from all other years? No, unfortunately. I have written about book banning before and will again, but banners don’t read The Gazette beyond the comics. They continue to preach and practice a form of government interference they deplore, especially when it comes to masks.
They would have us wear an intellectual mask to avoid being infected by reason and information and knowledge of the past, what’s going on today, a vision of tomorrow’s changing world.
Book banners pass their disease on to the next generation. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” the Mark Twain classic, was taken off the shelves in Concord, Mass. in 1885, one year after it was published. The town fathers said it was “trash and suitable only for the slums.” It has been translated into 50 languages, and over 20 million copies have been sold.
Book banning doesn’t work, but like the plague, it won’t go away without leaving serious damage behind.
Norman Sherman of Coralville has worked extensively in politics, including as Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s press secretary.