Friday, June 17, 2022

Book bullies

"The Board of Censors Moves Out," by Eugène Delacroix (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     When Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville announced June 9 that someone is plucking books from their displays and hiding them in the store, they didn’t specify what sort of books are being taken.
     I assumed the stashed volumes were books about queer youth and trans acceptance and such, the segment of human behavior currently singled out for special harassment by those who feel entitled to establish limits on human nature that maximize their own comfort.
     But that isn’t the kind of book being targeted.
     “Any book with a cover showing a person of color on it gets covered up,” explained Ginny Wehrli-Hemmeter, director of events and marketing at Anderson’s, 123 W. Jefferson St., one of the largest independent bookstores in the Chicago area.
     About 50 books have been found tucked behind other books. Police have been notified; a man, caught in the act, was confronted.
     Nor was my next thought — that this must be a freakish anomaly — correct. Can people really be offended by the sight of a children’s book about Jackie Robinson? In 2022? This has to be the handiwork of some lone-wolf, west-suburban hater indulging in repairable acts of racism, I figured.
     Sadly, it is not.

     While other large independent bookstores in and around Chicago — the Book Stall in Winnetka, Powell’s in Hyde Park — do not report similar vigilante mischief, it is endemic at public libraries around the country.
     “The books overwhelmingly being targeted deal with the lives and experiences of LGBTQ persons,” said Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director of the office for intellectual freedom of the Chicago-based American Library Association.
      But it is by no means limited to them. The lives of Black persons also are a particular focus, she added, “under the false idea that books about Black people are some kind of ‘critical race theory.’ There is a lot of rhetoric that’s being used to vilify these materials. It’s truly tragic.”

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  1. That's a lot of work for something that stupid & pointless!

  2. This trend is well rooted now in Florida. In Melbourne, A right wing group called Moms for Liberty is pressuring the school board to remove a wide variety of books for a variety of reasons. Two such books include Slaughterhouse Five and The Kite Runner.

    Governor Desantis (possible presidential candidate) is supporting this movement with his so called “Don’t Say Gay” law and other missives that restrict access to key, albeit not flattering, pages of US history. Many having to do with how things literally went south after the Civil War.

  3. "It’s a PAC that appears to be well-funded." Well, fortunately for the "patriots" motivated by the completely un-American goal of foisting their religious beliefs on an ever-more-diverse nation, "money is speech." At least according to the in-name-only "original intent" enthusiasts on the Supreme Court who no longer find precedents they don't like to be problematic.

    It was a nice touch to clarify that CatholicVote actually has no relationship to the larger Church. I imagine that having the space available to point that out is one of the benefits provided by a 2-page spread for the front-page column! : )

  4. Great picture on the blog. Didn't have that one in the Sun-Times.

  5. “Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people also”--Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)


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