The Censoring of Critical Thinking in the United States – the Fear of “the Other”

Continued by Fear of “the Other” – New York StateFear of “the Other”  — North Carolina, Fear of “the Other” – North Dakota, Fear of “the Other” – Oregon, Fear of “the Other” — Pennsylvania, Fear of “the Other” Ohio , Fear of “the Other – Oklahoma and Fear of “the Other” – Rhode Island.

Growing up poor in a wealthy suburb of Philadelphia, as well as being the only person I knew whose parents were divorced (divorce was still rare in the 1960s), engendered in me the sense of being different from the people around me. Although I looked like the majority of the people around me and could “pass,” as long as I kept my mouth shut, I always felt like “the other” on the inside. When I became a librarian, I found a profession that formally espoused, through the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, inclusion and support for all people from all backgrounds.

In the past few weeks, there has been a lot of news coverage and discussion about book banning due to the decision of the McMinn County, Tennessee School Board to remove the graphic novel Maus from the 8th grade curriculum. Book banning is not new, is not limited to one geographic area, and is not limited to one book or one issue. School boards and library boards across the United States are being systematically targeted to control the information that is made available for young people. All across the country, legislatures (and citizens) are being stirred up against the teaching of critical race theory, LGBTQ identity, or anything that might make anyone feel “uncomfortable.”

Ban guns, not books!

In my mind, the book bans, the curriculum reviews, the new laws regarding what can be taught, new voting laws, and the acts of overt hatred happening everywhere, are manifestations of the growing fear of and attacks on anyone who is not white, of European ancestry, heterosexual, and Christian. As a white American, straight woman, raised Christian, whose ancestors came (voluntarily) from England and Western Europe. I feel confident calling out white supremacy, all forms of racism, Christian bigotry, homophobia, transphobia, and Western European culturalism when I see it. And I see plenty of it in the United States these days. A February 10, 2022 Vox article noted, “On the local level, the effort manifests in parent- and activist-led drives to remove books from shelves and curriculums. On the state level, there’s been a push to pass “critical race theory” bans that constrain teachers’ speech and “educational transparency” rules that sometimes go as far as putting teachers on publicly accessible webcams and forcing them to seek parental permission if students try to join LGBTQ clubs.”

The state-by-state listing of news items I have provided below includes examples of book banning, legislation at the state level to control what can be taught or discussed from Kindergarten up through university, as well as examples of racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, and more. This is just a tiny fraction of what is happening in every state in the U.S;  there are thousands of other examples that anyone can find with little effort.  The listing is illustrative, not exhaustive. It also represents my personal point of view. I created it primarily for myself, so I could have at my fingertips relevant examples to share in some of the ongoing conversations. Most examples are from 2020 to today but I have included a few earlier examples when they documented an aspect or a trend that I considered important to document.  There are also some examples of positive changes taking place to make the world safer for “the other.” Items are listed state-by-state, in reverse chronological order. For me, this type of arrangement shows that there is no favored or safe group among all the “others.” There are examples of anti-Black, anti-indigenous, anti-Asian, anti-Latinx, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, and anti-LGBTQ people in every state. There is no room for complacency or for anyone to feel that where they live is superior to another state.  Some entries may require subscribing or registering to read. However, usually you can find another version that is freely available if you search the Internet.

I am slightly more than halfway through the 50 states and will continue to update this listing.

Inclusion vs exclusion

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana 

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

Continued by Fear of “the Other” – New York StateFear of “the Other”  — North Carolina, Fear of “the Other” – North Dakota, Fear of “the Other” – Oregon, Fear of “the Other” — Pennsylvania, Fear of “the Other” Ohio , Fear of “the Other – Oklahoma and Fear of “the Other” – Rhode Island.

9 Comments

Filed under Book banning, Diversity, equity, and inclusion, Racism

9 responses to “The Censoring of Critical Thinking in the United States – the Fear of “the Other”

  1. Pingback: Fear of “the Other” – New York State | Lifetime musings

  2. Pingback: Fear of “the Other”  — North Carolina | Lifetime musings

  3. Pingback: Fear of “the Other” — Pennsylvania | Lifetime musings

  4. Pingback: Fear of “the Other” — Oregon | Lifetime musings

  5. Pingback: Fear of “the Other” — North Dakota | Lifetime musings

  6. Pingback: Fear of “the Other” — Ohio | Lifetime musings

  7. Pingback: The Fear of “the Other” — Oklahoma | Lifetime musings

  8. Pingback: Fear Of “The Other”  — Rhode Island | Lifetime musings

  9. Pingback: Fear of “The Other”  —  You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught | Lifetime musings

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