History Is To Be Acknowledged And Learned From, Not Banned
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Politics and Activism

History Is To Be Acknowledged And Learned From, Not Banned

Did we learn anything from Ray Bradbury about book censorship?

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History Is To Be Acknowledged And Learned From, Not Banned
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Recently, in the Accomack County, VA school district, administration is considering whether or not to ban two iconic classics -- "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Huckleberry Fun" due to complaints from one parent about racial slurs in the book.

One parent.

One person could have the power to take these books and their rich histories away from the students of Accomack County. Everyone might have to miss out because of one person's complaint. The whole message of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is that racism is wrong, yet one parent decided they did not want their child to read the beloved book at the very minor cost of having to read a negative word that the child most likely knows not to say anyway.

When we ban books, essentially "burning" them, we ban our history. These books are both products of their time and contain situations and language that would have been common at the time of their writing. That is not racism -- that is history, whether it is good or bad, and history should never be covered up because of someone's sensitivity.

In high school I had to read Fahrenheit 451 and because I had an English teacher that was ardently against censoring literature, I never really understood why anyone would want to get rid of books unless they wanted to achieve the mind control obtained in Bradbury's novel.

I did not realize how many books get challenged so often until I got to college. An English professor I fortunately had for two wonderful semesters showed us the list of the top 100 banned books in the United States in both classes, and she told us why they were challenged or banned. I learned that most of the time, the people challenging these books, usually a parent, have never actually read the books.

In 1930s Germany and Austria, the German Student Union led a campaign to burn all books that even might have contained anti-Nazism content. In Stalin's Soviet Union, writers were silenced and prevented from publishing any text that might contain any traces of anti-communist ideas. Throughout the years oppressive regimes have controlled what people know, primarily their historical perspectives, by banning, or burning, books.

Books are powerful, and they teach us about where we have been and where we are now. Our history contains some negative elements as all histories do, but they need to be acknowledged and learned from, not banned, censored, or burned.


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