Tomorrow (April 7), my favorite legislator will swing into action to breathe new life into the First Amendment.
Former Constitutional Law Professor and Constitution devotee Jamie Raskin (D-MD), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, will begin hearings to expose and investigate the nationwide attempts to throttle free speech in schools and public libraries.
Anyone who’s so inclined can view the proceedings live on YouTube on April 7 at 10 am ET. With luck, if you click on this link, you’ll be able to watch it at that time.
Otherwise, I’m sure there will be excerpts available later on C-SPAN and elsewhere.
The Subcommittee statement describes the need:
“Book challenges and bans are rising at unprecedented rates, with ideologically motivated organizations and legislators in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, and other states leading campaigns to remove books from schools and public libraries. In 2021, the American Library Association (ALA) recorded 729 challenges to remove nearly 1,600 books from school and public libraries—the highest number of attempted book bans in the 20 years that the ALA has tracked this data. Meanwhile, some school administrators are preemptively removing library books out of fear.”
The Committee hearings will provide a platform for affected Americans to tell their stories and make the dangers of the censorship real and relevant. Witnesses appearing before the Committee will include several high school students, a teacher, a librarian, a parent, and civil rights activist Ruby Bridges.
Bridges, who bravely desegregated a Louisiana elementary school at age 6(!), became a cultural icon through the Norman Rockwell painting titled The Problem We All Live With (1963, featured above), which shows the young child being protected by federal marshals.
Both Bridges and the books she’s written about her experiences have won numerous awards. But her 2009 autobiography, Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, has recently been attacked as evidence of that fear-mongering bugaboo “CRT”–critical race theory.
The hearings were the subject of an April 4 Washington Post opinion piece titled: “Democrats must hit back hard at GOP book bans. Here’s a start.”
Calling governmental attention to the growing trend “a void to be filled,” the authors note that many of these book banning attempts are in Republican-controlled state legislatures where they won’t get national debate.
“Of course, there’s a risk that congressional Republicans will seek to turn the hearing into another circus. Republican staffers will no doubt scour the shelves for the most outrageous passages they can find, so their bosses can read them aloud, express shock and dismay — and get their canned outrage played in clips on Fox News.
“But the majority of Americans who want their communities’ schools and libraries to include a variety of materials, even challenging and provocative ones, don’t really have anyone speaking to their values and aspirations. Indeed, this is the case even as Republicans speak very loudly to those on their side of these arguments. (emphasis mine)
“Can a hearing like this show another way forward for Democrats? One has to hope so.”
The government must hear from those of us in the majority.
A citizens action group is having a read-in tomorrow night to coincide with the opening of the hearings. Here’s a link to “A Book Ban-Busters Read-In.”
The voices for censorship are loud. The voices for freedom to read are more prevalent, but not as loud. Let’s raise our voices, shall we?