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As you choose your summer reading, please take a moment to mourn the demise of several "ethnic" titles that have been taken off library shelves recently in several states, including Arizona. Among the incendiary books that are now taboo, thanks to the work of lobbyists in Washington, are Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha (too foreign), Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird (too liberal) and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (too hot).
Then there's also that sleeper on the bestseller list, which community college students are probably reading on their IPhones in radical cafes in Tucson as we speak, Critical Race Theory: An Introduction (too racy).
"The anti-ethnic studies law passed by the state prohibits teachings that 'promote the overthrow of the United States government,' 'promote resentment toward a race or class of people [in this case, white people],' 'are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,' and/or 'advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.'" A full report on these shenanigans is in Patricia J. Williams' article in this week's The Nation, also on her blog Diary of a Mad Law Professor.
Among the books that were removed from the Tucson public school system are Isabel Allende (who is an American citizen and lives in California), Junot Diaz, Jonathan Kozol, Sandra Cisneros, James Baldwin, Howard Zinn (who wrote A People's History of the United States), Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and even Shakespeare's The Tempest (because Caliban was a person of color?).
Tucson School Board member Michael Hicks in explaining the move said he was proud that he had not visited any of the classrooms affected or read any of the materials being axed. He called out the culprit of multiculturalism weakening the country as "Rosa Clark" (not Rosa Parks).
A friend of ours in Tucson, after reading of these and similar acts of ignorance, has suggested we test the authors of such statements for the "Moron gene."
If you disagree with the far-sighted public servants behind this wave of ethnic censorship, you might trying writing them a letter, but we doubt if they can, or will, read it.
For more insight into the Tucson anti-intellectual movement we recommend Tom Zoellner's A Safeway in Arizona.
Photo: Chilean American novelist Isabel Allende. (c) Lori Barra.