Against book banning

One of the happiest developments of 2021 has been the national movement of parents pushing back against woke education. As Stanley Kurtz says:

Nothing can beat parents organized to halt the erosion of core American ideals like freedom of expression or equality before the law. Thankfully, a record of early successes is rapidly building a larger movement to take back our schools.

But Stanley warns that the movement risks committing overreach in the form of book banning:

Lately, some parents and public officials fighting woke education have considered pulling books from the shelves of public-school libraries. That isn’t always inappropriate, even for strong defenders of free speech. Libraries serving K-12 students legitimately take criteria like age-appropriateness and community standards into account when it comes to explicit sexual material. Because those lines are notoriously difficult to draw, battles over sexually explicit school library books are sure to play out for years.


Bracketing the issue of age-appropriateness and explicit sexual content, I want to suggest that the best way to deal with woke school library books is not to ban them, but to balance them. If Ibram X. Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist is on your school-library shelf, don’t ban it. Have your library buy a copy of John McWhorter’s Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America, instead. If your school library has a copy of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, have it order a copy of Heather MacDonald’s The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe. And so on.

Banning books because of the ideas they promote isn’t just bad policy. It’s also bad politics. Stanley explains:

Our woke elites are only too eager to paint parents pushing back at woke excess in our schools as intolerant book-burners. Why not turn the tables by reviewing school libraries for leftist advocacy books, then balancing them with a more conservative point of view? Keep leftist political books, then dare your opponents to ban the new conservative books you’ve ordered.

I hope both sides hesitate to ban. The end result would be school libraries filled with both points of view — a big win, as far as I’m concerned.

I agree.

Notice: All comments are subject to moderation. Our comments are intended to be a forum for civil discourse bearing on the subject under discussion. Commenters who stray beyond the bounds of civility or employ what we deem gratuitous vulgarity in a comment — including, but not limited to, “s***,” “f***,” “a*******,” or one of their many variants — will be banned without further notice in the sole discretion of the site moderator.