Independence and freedom are two things that Texas prides itself on having. But this “independent state” has also become synonymous with limiting freedoms, including banning books in public schools, which I cannot abide as both a fan of literature and of free speech. This neo-McCarthyism is not limited to Texas either as calls for the removal of literature have come to multiple states including Illinois.
In October, Texas State Representative Matt Krause began a crusade against over 800 books, demanding that they be stricken from school libraries. Most of these books pertained either to LGBTQ+ people or race with a particular emphasis to Black Lives Matter and protesting the status quo, according to the list of books Rep. Krause sent to the Texas Education Agency.
The following month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott called for schools to ban books that contained pornographic content from schools, citing books like Maia Kobabe’s “Gender Queer: A Memoir,” according to the Texas Tribune.
The books being cited as pornography nearly all depict LGBTQ+ people instead of straight, cisgender people. A book like Stephen King’s “It,” which depicts underage heterosexual sex, is nowhere to be found on Rep. Krause’s list.
Danika Ellis, a writer for book review site Book Riot, examined all 850 books on Rep. Krause’s list and found that 62.4% of the books related to the LGBTQ+ community and that 71.3% of them were young adult books, according to Ellis’ article.
These are books meant for young adults that are being kept from them when students should be able to choose what they want to read.
My biggest fear is that this zeal for book burning may come to Illinois. In Downers Grove, the book “Gender Queer: A Memoir” was targeted at a school board meeting in November, according to NPR’s WBEZ in Chicago.
What we’re seeing is a modern resurgence of McCarthyism. It harkens back to school boards trying to ban classics like “The Catcher in the Rye” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In one of my favorite films, “Field of Dreams,” one of the main characters challenges a book burner, calling them “a Nazi cow.” To Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Texas State Representative Matt Krause and any other officials currently attempting to ban books in schools, there’s a pasture a few blocks over if you want to graze.
You are not trying to protect your children, you are trying to take away knowledge and art and, in the process, discriminate against literature that shows the experiences of minorities. If anything, banning these books will only make young people more desperate to seek them out.
For every book you ban, you create a new batch of Holden Caulfields who will rebel when they find out what you’ve stolen from them.