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Drop "Culture War" Description: Banning Books and Restricting Ideas is Fascism

A wave of Republican enthusiasm for banning concepts, authors and books is sweeping across the United States. Forty-four states have proposed bans on the teaching of “divisive concepts”, and 18 states have passed them.

Florida’s Stop Woke Act bans the teaching of eight categories of concepts, including concepts that suggest that “a person, by virtue of his or her race, color, sex, or national origin, bears personal responsibility for and must feel guilt, anguish or other forms of psychological distress because of actions, in which the person played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race, color, national origin, or sex”. Many of the laws also target Nikole Hannah-Jones’s influential 1619 Project.

These laws have already started to take effect. Administrators and teachers have been forced out of their positions on the suspicion of violating these laws, and what has started as a trickle may soon become a flood.

In January, Florida’s board of education banned AP African American studies, on the grounds that it included concepts forbidden by Governor Ron DeSantis’s law, including critical race theory and intersectionality, as well as authors such as Kimberlé Crenshaw, bell hooks, Roderick Ferguson, Angela Davis and Ta-Nehisi Coates. The College Board chose to remove these authors and subjects from its curriculum, claiming, as it turns out dubiously, that it did so independently of Florida’s pressure.

These laws have been represented by many as a “culture war”. This framing is a dangerous falsification of reality. A culture war is a conflict of values between different groups. In a diverse, pluralistic democracy, one should expect frequent conflicts. Yet laws criminalizing educators’ speech are no such thing – unlike a culture war, the GOP’s recent turn has no place in a democracy. To understand why, consider their consequences.

The concepts these laws centrally target include addressing structural racism, intersectionality and critical race theory.


In other national contexts, everyone would clearly recognize the problematic nature of laws of this sort. Germany’s teaching of its Nazi past creates clear anguish and guilt in German children (and perhaps for this reason, Germany is the world’s most stable liberal democracy). If the German far right passed laws forbidding schools from teaching about the sins of Nazism, on the grounds that such teaching does in fact quite obviously cause anguish and guilt in German children, the world would not stand for it for one moment. Even Israel’s far-right government strenuously objected when Poland drafted a law that would make it illegal to suggest that Poland had any responsibility for Nazi atrocities on its soil. Why isn’t there greater outcry when such laws are passed to protect the innocence of white Americans?

Read entire article at The Guardian