Yesterday, Karl Rove was a panelist at the annual Texas Tribune Festival. He described the state’s abortion ban— which outlaws the procedure without exception for rape and incest— as “extremist” and predicted it would be a liability for the party going into the midterms.
Texas House Speaker Dale Phelan was on a panel the day before and he told the audience that the legislature may have to revisit the nature of the ban which is opposed by most Texans and by many of the state’s district attorneys, “who now face the possibility of prosecuting medical professionals and may be called to prosecute in another county if another district attorney refuses to do so.”
How could anything like this happen in the country’s second biggest state? Well… maybe there’s a correlation between reactionary legislation like this and… the kind of willful ignorance imposed by Texas school districts. PEN America, an organization that advocates for free expression in literature, published their updated index of books banned by schools. And Texas came in first for most books banned (followed, predictably, by Florida). Nationally around 41% of the banned books “address LGBTQ+ themes or have characters who are LGBTQ+. Roughly 40% of the books feature characters of color, and 21% of the banned books address issues of race and racism.”
These are some of the dozens of books Republicans think Texas school children should not allowed to read:
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood
The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini
Gender Queer: A Memoir, Maia Kobabe
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews
What Girls Are Made Of, Elana K. Arnold
Looking For Alaska, John Green
The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls
While we’re on the subject of book banning, Florida’s list includes Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, The Life of Rosa Parks by Kathleen Connors and Brave New World by Aldo’s Huxley (which was mandatory reading when I was in school). Texas’ closest neighbor— in every way— included Maya Angelou’s classic I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Frederick Douglass’s autobiography, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry and Lord of the Flies by William Golding.
Chief executive officer of PEN America, Suzanne Nossel, said in a recent press release, "While we think of book bans as the work of individual concerned citizens, our report demonstrates that today's wave of bans represents a coordinated campaign to banish books being waged by sophisticated, ideological and well-resourced advocacy organizations."
Nossel said in a news conference on Monday, "We all can agree that parents deserve to and are entitled to a say over their kids' education. That's absolutely essential. But fundamentally, that is not what this is about when parents are mobilized in an orchestrated campaign to intimidate teachers and librarians to dictate that certain books be pulled off shelves even before they've been read or reviewed."
Too close for comfort for the Texas Taliban: