In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

The Enemy Within

I understand that certain school boards in the USA have banned large numbers of books, and study literature, from the curriculum that contain particular words and subjects. Amongst these offensive words and subjects are the following (those that are of a nervous disposition should turn away now):

 Dinosaurs-some people don’t believe in evolution.

 Harry Potter-the characteristics of curiosity and heroism are considered to be gender biased.

 Mountains-these are considered to be unfair subject matter for those pupils who do not live near mountains.

 Mickey Mouse-some people dislike rodents.

I shall stop there; however the list, apparently, goes on and on.

Why have these seemingly innocuous words and subjects become taboo?

The bodies controlling the subject matter deemed fit for stimulating, moulding and educating young minds have, in my opinion, taken the coward’s route when setting the curriculum. They have chosen to avoid confrontation with single issue fanatics, those elements of society who possess closed minds to the people and society around them.

These fanatics cannot tolerate the slightest question to be raised against their inward looking, narrow minded view of themselves and the world. When challenged the fanatics will act like a child throwing a tantrum; and through all the channels available in a free society, media litigation etc, seek to drown out the voice of the people or organisation that dares to challenge their views.

This avoidance of confrontation may give the regulators of education a short term respite from the stress of having to perform their role as educators. However, it stores up trouble for the future. I draw your attention to some of the following lessons from history:

 George Orwell, in his most insightful novel 1984, painted a terrifying vision of a society where words were erased by the state’s thought police in order to control what people could think. The restriction of thought restricts peoples’ ability to question the status quo, this in turn ensures that the state can maintain is control over the population and by definition its grip on power.

 The USA passionately believes in freedom of speech, it has demonstrated this many times, for example; fighting Nazi Germany, standing firm against communism and ousting the Baath government from Iraq. These regimes all controlled peoples’ access to literature, they were afraid of independent thought that would question their right to hold office.

 The USA has introduced a road map to peace in the Middle East which envisages the Palestinians and Israelis living peacefully side by side. This implies a belief in the principles of religious tolerance, whereby Islam and Judaism respect each others beliefs.

The cowardly policy of the education boards has the following consequences and paradoxes:

 The control of educational literature in this absurd manner is in direct contradiction to the beliefs and actions of the USA in its foreign policy, as outlined above.

 The policy of the education boards parallels that of the Orwellian dictatorship.

 Restricting the variety and choice of stimulating literature available to young minds will produce a generation of illiterate, unsophisticated and unimaginative cretins; who will oversee the stagnation of the creative drive and energy that has brought the USA to the pre-eminent position it holds in the world today.

 The lack of challenge and variety in the literature offered to pupils will produce a generation that is intolerant of other peoples’ ideas, way of life and religious beliefs. Is that not the very form of society that the Pilgrim Fathers emigrated from all those centuries ago? Indeed, is that not the form of society that the civil rights marchers of the 1960’s fought to eradicate?

I urge the people, and the leadership, of the USA to take heed and to stand up to the feeble minded bureaucrats who seek to undermine the intellectual and cultural base of the USA.

The hard lesson that the Nazis taught us was that where first you burn books, you next burn people.

The freedoms that you take for granted were hard fought for, the price of these freedoms is eternal vigilance.

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