A myriad of frightening things are going on in our world right now. For example, we see Americans with an affinity for Nazism, racist messaging and comments made out in the open by prominent politicians, and of course thousands of Americans deny the legitimacy of the last presidential election. I could write my concerns about all of these issues. But nothing symbolizes the moment better to me than the push for book banning.
As a professionally trained historian, I taught about and studied book banning in a number of countries, communities, and societies. They all have one things in common: the suppression of free speech and the attempt by one group to control the thoughts of everyone else. Book burning represents the most extreme manifestation of this trend, but the mere attempt to ban a book is only steps away from a conflagration of books in the town square. The open and free flow of ideas is essential to a free people and a functioning democracy.
I therefore applaud anyone and everyone who combats the specious trend of banning books. With the uproar over a Tennessee school district banning “Maus,” a lot of people have spoken out against it. I am particularly proud to be a member of the Horror Writers Association, which released the following statement:
Statement on Maus and Other Banned Books
The Horror Writers Association condemns banning books in no uncertain terms. We believe authors need to be able to tell their stories without fear of reprisal.
The banning of “Maus” in a Tennessee school district, which was done on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is nothing less than censorship and anti-Semitism.
“Maus” is not the first text to be excluded from school libraries. Recently, LGBTQ+ texts have been banned in a Washington state school district, and many other books by authors of color have been censored in districts across America. These are chilling examples of censorship, racism, anti-Semitism, and white washing. We all need to be more vocal each and every time this happens.
These actions set a dangerous precedent in a free society. They cannot and should not be tolerated. The HWA condemns all attempts at censorship, particularly these obvious attempts of the establishment to silence marginalized voices. We urge you to speak out in your local communities against such autocratic tactics that not only threaten our creative community but also make our world less safe.
The HWA’s Officers and Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees spoke for me here with their powerful words. And I am writing to you to implore all of us to speak out against such censorship. We all need to be fighting to preserve American democracy, and freedom around the globe. Resisting book bans is not an insignificant aspect of this struggle. Join the cause and denounce such behavior!