There is a famous art project titled, “The Castle” by Mexican artist Jorge Mendez Blake which shows what a book, in this case, Franz Kafka’s The Castle, can do to the foundation of a brick wall.
The metaphor invoked resonates as I am asked to attend book challenge committees. Yep, in 2022, people are calling for the banning of books. Why?
The reasons are many. Ultimately, it’s about control of thought and this should alarm everyone.
The singularity of thought not only in modern political movements but also in the entertainment that invades many aspects of our day-to-day routine is slowly eroding the critical thinking that should be supported in classrooms, college lecture halls, and family dinners. The impact of social media is profound, but we can’t lay all of society’s problems at social media’s door as the degradation of education started long before the impact of TikTok and Snapchat.
When students brag about getting to their last year of high school and having never read a book? No, that’s not social media’s fault.
Uncomfortable conversations need to be had. Books often bring to light issues society faced and how society has overcome or let the problem fester. We read the classics because they highlight universal truths that generations before us faced. These issues should be analyzed and discussed for generations. Books should not be banned because they highlight bad behavior in a country’s past or hold uncomfortable discussions about behavior, but rather we should challenge ourselves to read and discuss each uncomfortable topic. If nothing more than to knowledgeably say, no, to an idea or concept that is unacceptable in modern society.
The adage, “If we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it,” is stated often but people aren’t listening nee thinking. The book burning that occurred in Nazi Germany in 1933 where tens of thousands of books were burned because they didn’t hold with the Nazi one true ideology is mirrored today, much more politely, but occurring, nonetheless.
As a teacher of English, asking if I have a certain book in my library and calling for its removal in 2022 is alarming. The slippery slope that I am asked to be part of is appalling. Am I really being asked to ban a book?
I challenge those that call for the virtual burning of books to grab a copy of every book on the banned books list for 2022 (high school) and read them for yourself. Decide what your family reads. If this hue and cry for the banning of books continues, we may lose the opportunity to do so.
English Teacher & Book Lover