The American Library Association threw its support behind two so-called “banned books” tours organized by Penguin Random House and The New Republic in response to efforts by parents and red states to remove inappropriate books from children’s shelves and classrooms. The bookmobiles hit the road in celebration of #BannedBooksWeek to distribute copies of the books in what it calls the “most affected communities.” But here’s the kicker: Anyone anywhere in the country can buy these “banned” books.
One of these self-described “bold new initiative[s] to combat censorship and celebrate the First Amendment,” will be touring through Oct. 28. To fight the “new laws and regulations limiting the kinds of books kids can access,” one bookmobile handed out books including Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, I Am Jazz, and How to Be an Antiracist — all of which are readily available on Amazon to be shipped directly to your door overnight.
Concerned parents and lawmakers have contested the content of books that leftist activists now characterize as “banned.” Some have been moved from children’s shelves due to pornographic imagery, while others have been taken out of classrooms due to divisive ideologies that condition children to hate themselves or others based on the color of their skin. The nuance and maturity these “banned” books demand are at the crux of the issue, but the ALA and affiliate sponsors insist these books should remain accessible to children of any age in libraries and classrooms on taxpayers’ dime.
The talking points reiterated on the left are all about “MAGA Republicans” and how they love to “ban books.” The painfully obvious irony is that if these books were banned, this book tour would be impossible. Conflating the regulation of child-appropriate content in public schools with mass book banning and censorship is dishonest at best.
“This is a dangerous time for readers and the public servants who provide access to reading materials,” said ALA Director for Intellectual Freedom Deborah Caldwell-Stone. “Readers, particularly students, are losing access to critical information, and librarians and teachers are under attack for doing their jobs.”
Therein lies one major problem: the idea that it is the job of librarians and teachers to provide obscene imagery or transgender confusion for children and otherwise steep them in the left’s sexual and racial orthodoxy. But beyond that, conservative efforts to safeguard kids aren’t putting taxpayer-funded employees in “danger.” And the “critical information” the ALA claims is at stake is still available anywhere online and in the grown-up sections of libraries. The question right-wing parents and politicians pose is not whether these books should be allowed to exist, but rather what content is appropriate for children in public spaces.
The “banned book” tours were backed by numerous affiliates including The New Republic, The American Federation of Teachers, the African American Policy Forum, Banned Books Week, Bookshop.org, House of SpeakEasy, the Urban Libraries Council, The Freedom to Read Foundation, Penguin Random House, Little Free Library, and PEN America.