EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at the WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
The idea of banning books conjures images of piles of hardcovers in the street going up in flames. But over the past few decades in the United States, book banning has taken on a decidedly more genteel character. It has taken place in deliberative school board meetings and in quick after-school chats between librarians and concerned parents.
And incidents of this quieter version of book banning have recently spiked: A group of Texas school districts reported 75 attempts in the first four months of the 2021–2022 school year to censor children’s access to books. The number of attempts over the same period last year? Just one.
Many advocates for these bans claim they simply want to protect children from “vulgar, explicit material.” But no matter how well-intentioned, our best literary experts—librarians and authors themselves—have a clear message: This most recent wave of book banning is no less dangerous than book banning has been throughout history.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.