Chuck Schumer Blasts ‘Downright Orwellian’ School Book Bans
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday denounced the growing wave of school book bans as “deeply disturbing and downright Orwellian.”
“These modern-day efforts from the far right to ban hundreds of books from the top down are dangerous — patently un-American,” Schumer said in a speech on the Senate floor.
“This right-wing cancel culture should be resoundingly condemned,” he added, borrowing a term that Republicans frequently rail against.
Conservatives are targeting school libraries in what experts are calling a historic and concerted book banning effort, censoring materials dealing with race, sexuality and gender from schools.
That includes “Maus,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel about the horrors of the Holocaust, with Jews depicted as mice and Nazis as cats. A Tennessee school board voted unanimously this month to ban the book from its eighth-grade curriculum, citing “objectionable language” and nudity.
Parents and school boards in Texas and other Republican-controlled states have called for the removal of dozens of other books dealing with themes they have declared offensive.
“Why are we sexualizing our precious children?” one Texas parent said at a school board meeting in November after she spoke out against books about LGBTQ relationships and their impact on children.
A Republican mayor in Mississippi withheld funds from his city’s library until it removed what he called “homosexual material” from its shelves.
“Sexual connotations are not appropriate for children when they enter the library,” the mayor explained.
When asked about the matter on Wednesday, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said decisions about literature in schools are usually decided at the local level.
“As a general rule, I don’t favor banning age-appropriate and subject-appropriate books for children,” Cornyn said. “They need to hear a diversity of views. I think [Supreme Court Justice Louis] Brandeis said it best: The best solution to erroneous information is more information.”
Schumer defended the censored literature as “vital” to society because it can “expand people’s understanding of the world around us.”
“We don’t need to look that far into history to see what happens when we go down the dangerous road of censorship and suppression, when free expression is weakened ― the mob is empowered,” Schumer said. “The groundwork is laid for further discrimination, intimidation and, God forbid, increased violence.”