Is reading such a bad thing that we
actually have to ban books?
Education is taking a big hit in Ron DeSantis’ Florida. In January of this year, the Governor appointed six new people to the board of trustees of New College of Florida to free the students and faculty from an ideological “hostage situation.” Heavens to Betsy, let us not burden the kiddies with thoughts they can’t handle or make them think at all!
When I was in the fifth grade, while everyone was dreading moving on to Mrs. P’s class because it was well-known that we had to write 50 book reports a year for her, I was excited. On average, I read about a book every day anyhow and relished the challenge ahead. I read books about Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickock, and Calamity Jane. Then pressed on to books like Animal Farm, 1984, Peter Pan, Hawaii, Moby Dick, the Sherlock Holmes series, and the entire Burroughs Tarzan series. I think I wear glasses today because of all those nights reading by flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. If you don’t think someone would find something to ban in those books today, you’re not paying attention. Think about: fairies, child molesters with hooks for hands, bare-breasted native women, drug addiction, and blatant racism.
A small public liberal arts college, New College of Florida ranks as the #5 Public liberal arts college in the nation. I’m afraid all that will end with DeSantis and Company. In about ten years, when my oldest Floridian granddaughter starts looking for a college to attend, I don’t think there will even be a public college in Florida worth attending.
Under the guise of Parent’s Rights, our Florida legislature is considering a bill that would ban any book in schools statewide if even only one parent objects to the book.
Unfortunately, the point at which the government tells us what we can read and bans that which we cannot read is only the beginning. The Nazis burned books in Germany in 1933, and the signs are in place that this cycle of intolerance is starting again.
DeSantis won his last election by more than 20 points and has a rubber-stamp legislature, so who can blame him for his blatant rule-by-fiat approach to governance? The “Stop W.O.K.E” Act was passed last year. It prohibits teaching or having classroom discussions where “he or she (a student) must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.”
During his second inaugural address this past January, he decried wokeness this way: “We will never surrender to the woke mob. Florida is where Woke goes to die.”
So, what exactly does “woke” mean? At a recent dinner, my daughter-in-law asked me that very question, and I tentatively replied, “Enlightened?”
As it happens, it was originally used as a call to action for Black people dating back to the early 20th century. Today, it’s accepted as a compliment by the left but used as an insult by the right. A USA TODAY/Ipsos Poll recently found that fifty-six percent of the people asked defined woke as “being informed, educated on, and aware of social injustices.”
How do we counter social injustice, bullying, and disinformation?
We do it with knowledge and a worldview that is based on curiosity rewarded. Imagine the thrill of a little high-five after being excitedly told something (s)he learned in school today. Or being read to and watching the progression of words getting more difficult, yet mastered, week after week. With a lifetime of knowledge gained by reading, watching integrated classrooms, and knowing that racism is taught, not inherent, wondering if these kids will become suspicious of each other because the sins of the past are being swept under the rug.
Reading gave me knowledge and perspective and stirred my curiosity. Curiosity forces us to question the knowledge we have been given. If it doesn’t seem reasonable, continue reading, questioning, and searching until the truth is found.
Interestingly, the “truth” can, and has, changed if critical thinking is fostered and nurtured. Yesterday’s truth is only as good as the informed minds that found it. More informed minds refine the truth.
Can you imagine where the world would be if people simply accepted the “facts” that were given to them? Would we know the truths about the past? Would the great thinkers of yesterday be able to
build on the ideas of past generations to create new and improved medicines or machines?
Please. Ignore the politicians who would keep you rooted in the past. They are afraid you won’t vote for them if you know the truth because they. only. want. power. The more you know, the more you see they don’t work for your best interests.
Read. Anything and everything. Then vote them out so your kids and my granddaughters can get a decent education in Florida.