Banned in the USA

RISING SCHOOL BOOK BANS THREATEN FREE EXPRESSION AND STUDENTS’ FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS

Book bans in public schools have recurred throughout American history, and have long been an issue of concern to PEN America, as a literary and free expression advocacy organization. Over the past nine months, the scope of such censorship has expanded rapidly. In response, PEN America has collated an Index of School Book Bans, offering a snapshot of the trend. The Index documents decisions to ban books in school libraries and classrooms in the United States from July 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

While this is the first time PEN America has conducted a formal count of books banned, the organization has fought back against book bans for decades. In 2016, PEN America published Missing from the Shelf: Book Challenges and Lack of Diversity in Children’s Literature, which described instances of ‘soft censorship’ taking place in schools and libraries in response to parents’ challenges of books. The report also highlighted the disproportionate targeting of books by or about people whose identities and stories have traditionally been underrepresented in children’s and young adult literature, such as people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, or persons with disabilities.

Today, state legislators are introducing — and in some cases passing — educational gag orders to censor teachers, proposals to track and monitor teachers, and mechanisms to facilitate book banning in school districts. At the same time, the scale and force of book banning in local communities is escalating dramatically. In recent years PEN America has typically encountered a handful of such cases each year. The findings in this report demonstrate a profound increase in both the number of books banned and the intense focus on books that relate to communities of color and LGBTQ+ subjects over the past nine months.

American bigots, especially the political flavor attached to the Republican Party, hate and fear free speech. They panic over simple reporting of facts exposing their politics of censorship. Exposing their activities sends them scuttling like rats for the nearest hole. Time enough to rollout their usual defense: patriotism and paternalism

“I’ve got morons on my team”

Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah on Sunday blasted his fellow GOP members who attended a White nationalist event and those who support Russia President Vladimir Putin as the country invades Ukraine.

“Look, there is no place in either political party for this White nationalism or racism. It’s simply wrong … it’s evil as well,” Romney told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.” “(Rep.) Marjorie Taylor Greene and (Rep.) Paul Gosar, I don’t know them, but I’m reminded of that old line from the ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ movie where – where one character says, ‘Morons, I’ve got morons on my team.’ And I have to think anybody that would sit down with White nationalists and speak at their conference was certainly missing a few IQ points.”

The comment from Romney follows criticism from Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, a Republican, of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Paul Gosar of Arizona for speaking at the America First Political Action Conference that took place in Orlando, Florida and was organized by White nationalist Nick Fuentes. Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, also a Republican, criticized Greene and Gosar. Greene spoke at the event in person and Gosar, who attended the same conference last year, appeared through pre-recorded remarks.

“As Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rep Paul Gosar speak at this white supremacist, anti-Semitic, pro-Putin event, silence by Republican Party leaders is deafening and enabling,” Cheney tweeted Saturday. “All Americans should renounce this garbage and reject the Putin wing of the GOP now.”

Fuentes, who has been labeled a White supremacist by the US Department of Justice and the Anti-Defamation League, has been banned from most major social media platforms for his White nationalist rhetoric.

Should be an interesting struggle to watch…within the Republican Party. Not unlike the sort of pitched battles early days of the modern civil rights movement – between Centrist Democrats and the so-called Southern Democrats. Opportunism didn’t prevail then. Kissing racist butt was no longer enough to get you re-elected. I wonder if today’s Republicans will have the courage and fortitude to fight the same fight.

We know how to slow the rate of global warming by 30%, right now … Will we get it done?


Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

Moving quickly to cut emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas produced by everything from livestock farming to fossil fuel extraction, could slow the rate of the Earth’s warming as much as 30 percent, new research has found.

The study, published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, calculated that a full-scale push using existing technologies could cut methane emissions in half by 2030. Such reductions could have a crucial impact in the global effort to limit warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) compared to preindustrial levels — a central aim of the Paris climate accord.

In human terms, that could translate into fending off the most severe sea level rise, preventing more profound damage to animal habitats and ecosystems, and delaying other extreme climate impacts.

To date, we’ve accumulated some explanations to the voting public around the world. And lots of pledges. Starting with an effort in Congress, next week, to remove one of the roadblocks that was left in place by the creep who is confident he’s still in charge of the Republican Party.

Anyone looking forward to success with Congressional Republicans? I imagine few of them plan on being around in 2050. And most of them are traditionally beholden to short-term corporate boffins who couldn’t care less about political action that might harm their share price in the market.