Florida newspaper slams the ‘new political correctness’ of ‘book-burning’ Republicans

Florida newspaper slams the ‘new political correctness’ of ‘book-burning’ Republicans
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MAGA Republicans have been relentlessly campaigning against the teaching of "critical race theory" in public schools, which is deceptive because CRT — a field of academic study available on some college campuses — is not even being taught in K-12 schools in the United States. The anti-CRT hysteria on the far right has reached the point where Republicans are trying to ban from public schools any book that deals with the United States' history of racism. And the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board, in a scathing editorial published this week, denounces this hysteria as a form of book burning.

CRT studies, on some college campuses, analyzes how racism has influenced U.S. institutions and societal outcomes — and countless books that address racism have nothing to do with CRT. For example, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," published in 1965 (the year of Malcolm X's assassination), and the writings of Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou have nothing to do with critical race theory. But all of them are potential targets of the anti-CRT hysteria coming from the far right.

The Sentinel's editorial board explains, "Banning and burning books is nothing new. What's new are the targets: Books about race and racism. In Tennessee, zealots want to get rid of a picture book by Ruby Bridges, who became the first Black student at an all-White New Orleans school when she was just six years old…. These unacceptable images are real, historical photos illustrating a true story about a young Black girl breaking the barriers of racial segregation in the Deep South."

The editorial board continues, "People of good will can make reasonable arguments about what should and should not be on public school reading lists and library shelves. Some material is too sexually explicit or too violent for some ages. Surely, we can at least agree on that. But the objections raised in Tennessee and other states, including Florida, are more about manipulating history than anything else."

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One of the far-right groups that the editorial lambasts is Moms for Liberty, which told the Tennessee Department of Education that the book "Ruby Bridges Goes to School" violates the state's new anti-CRT law. "Ruby Bridges Goes to School" has nothing to do with critical race theory, but it is a good example of a non-CRT book getting caught up in anti-CRT hysteria.

Moms for Liberty's New Hampshire chapter has even offered a $500 reward to the first person who "catches a public school teacher breaking" the state's anti-CRT law.

The Sentinel's editorial board notes, "Texas' new anti-CRT law may have provided the most absurd example of the new political correctness when a Texas school district near Dallas told teachers they needed to provide students with an opposing view of the Holocaust, whatever that is. More news from Texas: A Republican state lawmaker has demanded that school districts across the state scour their libraries for 850 book titles. Most of them are about sex and gender, but the lawmaker's jihad includes works focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as William Styron's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about an 1831 slave revolt, 'The Confessions of Nat Turner.'"

"Political correctness" and "jihad" are the type of terms that right-wing media figures typically use to attack liberals and progressives, often accusing the left of being thin-skinned and hypersensitive. But Republicans, not progressives, are the ones who are trying to ban, from public K-12 schools, books that make them uncomfortable because they address racism. It isn't Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts of Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington State who is leading the anti-CRT campaign.

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"This is going to get worse before it gets better," the Sentinel's editorial board warns. "The extreme right is targeting school boards throughout the nation and in Florida. We're likely to see more crackpots than normal trying to get elected so they can do their part to erase our nation's racial history…. Don't give bad-faith actors the ability to ban a book about a brave little girl who broke the segregation barrier."

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