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“The Book Thief”: Guess who else banned books and burned them? Hitler and the Nazis — Part 1

… those “Americans” removing books are simply like Nazis

This is a book that I heard of but had never read, but when one of my students was required to read it and then write about it, I decided to purchase “The Book Thief” and to discuss it with her.

What a joy it has been to read this — and then watch the movie. It centers upon a narrative of a young woman who lost all of her family and was then adopted by foster parents in Germany in 1939. She takes a book from the grave of her brother who passed away on the trip to join the new parents, and that begins an odyssey of loving books that lasted throughout her lifetime.

It also led to her learning to read, which she could not do prior to this.

What makes this so timely is that this is happening today in what used to be known as an American Democracy. Today, it is more like American Fascism as schools and states act more like Hitler than like any American president prior to the 21st Century because they are removing, banning, and burning books.

And they ironically call their opponents “Fascists”

The fascists who are removing — and burning — books

A young senior at Reagan High School in Texas told the school board that was listening to why her school was evaluating whether or not to remove books from the library that the politicians should not have a say in the matter,

“Although you may say this is not a politically driven act, it is. This letter was written by a politician. The books were chosen and listed by a politician,” she said. “It is clear that the explicit content reasoning for pulling these books is a scapegoat to cover the discrimination occurring. Kids need to feel represented by the books that their schools provide, and those who don’t know about minority groups should have access to these books to learn.”

Brooke Crum, “Students, parents call North East ISD book review

‘political’ act,” San Antonio Report, December 14, 2021

Politicians removing books? Sounds like exactly what the Nazis did in Germany during Hitler’s reign. Politicians have even invented a McCarthyistic theory about something that has never been taught in schools in the U.S. as a sort of bogeyman.

Background in Texas

The Reagan High School is part of the North East Independent School District in San Antonio. Here is the background of that story,

As North East Independent School District planned to devise a new strategy for reviewing library books, students, parents and educators at Monday’s school board meeting overwhelmingly stated their opposition to the district’s removal of 414 books targeted by a state Republican lawmaker.

Superintendent Sean Maika said the district intends to review all 750,000 books in its school libraries, which could take years. NEISD plans to recruit teachers, parents and librarians to create the new book review process.

“We must do our due diligence and go through a review process, not because of fear or penalty, but because it’s the responsible thing to do,” he said.

NEISD librarians began pulling copies of the books from school library shelves Dec. 2 as part of a review process to weed out books that contain “vulgar or obscene material,” Maika wrote in a letter to families. The district, the second-largest in San Antonio with 60,000 students, used the list of about 850 books state Rep. Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) asked districts to identify as part of an investigation into “school district content.”

In late October, Krause, chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, told the Texas Education Agency that he was initiating the inquiry into books that address race, sex or “material that might make students feel discomfort.” Gov. Greg Abbott followed in November, directing the TEA to investigate criminal activity related to “the availability of pornography” in public schools.

Brooke Crum, San Antonio Report, December 14, 2021

Teachers are also being told that they cannot teach materials that make students “uncomfortable,” like about slavery and racism and transgenderism.

Look at some of the books that have been banned in America. They include classics like “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” In one instance, the censorship comes from the left, and in the other, from the right.

In either case, it is wrong.

Unconstitutional? Who cares in Texas?

The San Antonio story notes that this is probably unconstitutional because the books had not been reviewed,

Last week, Ken Paulson, director of the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, said NEISD’s removal of the library books before they had been reviewed could be unconstitutional. In 1982, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that school boards and administrators have the right to remove books from school libraries if they have “legitimate concerns about vulgarity and inappropriate content that will potentially harm growing minds.”

“The [Board of Education, Island Trees Union Free School District v.] Pico case very clearly says that school districts cannot remove books for political reasons. They cannot remove books to suppress ideas,” Paulson said. “Removing books from a public library even for an interim period flies in the face of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Pico.”

Brooke Crum, San Antonio Report, December 14, 2021

In America today, constitutionality is a smoke screen particularly with this Supreme Court.

Part two will look at the problems that the Nazis caused in Germany — which, ironically, look very similar to what is transpiring in America today.

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