Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

By Jim Shipley
Shipley Speaks 

It started with the burning of books


April 28, 2023

There seems to be a zealous increase in the United States of the banning of certain books from both school and general libraries. From what I’ve read and researched it seems that the overwhelming reason for this is that certain conservative Christian groups have decided that the material in these books are “not acceptable” for certain groups, basically young readers.

This may be so but I do not believe many books of any kind are taken out of libraries by 10 year olds. Their parents – yes. And I am sure that some of these books are indeed not advisable for children of a certain age. But that is a decision for the parents of these kids, not some blue-nosed Christian groups or any other self-appointed “experts” on what is proper for kids to read.

Banning books? I now read of some Christian parental groups having “parties” where said books are being BURNED.

Sound familiar? If you are of a certain age, or study history, the bell should have rung. This is one of the first tactics used by the Nazis to “cleanse” libraries and bookstores of “unacceptable content.” Most of those books were written by or were about Jews and/or had “Jewish content.”

Interesting. There are some chapters of the Bible that might be included as unacceptable under the same “rules” because of their sections on how mankind was able to expand.

We are blessed in this country with an active and diverse media system of radio, television and of course reading material for just about everyone. Some “opinion” shows and even some so-called “news” programs are loaded with misinformation or just plain lies. And also, there is no “system” to correct these intentional misrepresentations. It is left to the individual to decide what is and what is not true.

It is when this activity takes place with regard to “tropes” about peoples, religion or history that the danger appears. Hitler thrived on published and broadcast lies about Jews, Gypsies and any other religious or ethnic groups he despised.

Opinions are one thing, facts another and the melding of the two without differentiating is where the trouble begins.

Hitler followed up with a huge and extremely effective propaganda campaign. He and his followers spewed the tropes that the Jew was also responsible for anything and everything affecting life in Germany post World War One. When Hitler’s army invaded Poland, he found much of the population ready to accept these false “facts” and becoming active allies in the deaths of millions of innocent Jews. Of course this philosophy did not limit itself to Poland. It found followers in just about every country in Europe as well as Stalin’s Russia.

To this day there are Holocaust Deniers and far right groups fighting for a controlled information society. Most prevalent among those groups here in the United States are far right followers of the Southern Baptist Coalition.

This dedicated group of citizens are on a “crusade” to dominate school boards and local political groups. Their mission is to rid the public’s access to certain publications that do not adhere to their far right and in many cases, antisemitic tropes.

Should young readers be exposed to certain publications with content that is intended for a more mature audience? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But that should be left to the parents of these youngsters to make those decisions, not some arbitrary group of self-appointed dedicated right wing, blue-nosed righteous bigots.

The problem lies not with the chance that a young reader might come upon a book with content that is not “age appropriate,” but rather that decisions on what constitutes “age appropriate” are being made by these groups who have become so active in school boards and local political organizations. They are looking for scapegoats to blame for problems that affect our daily lives and have no simple, obvious reasons or solutions.

Germany’s antisemitism in post-World War I was deep in the philosophy of a solid percentage of the citizenry. Eager for someone to blame for the humiliation of their defeat in the war, and the depression that followed, the Jews for no reason whatsoever were an easy target.

Hitler, a Jew Hater from his youth, seized upon this opportunity and turned it into a political campaign that resulted in his election and the eventual deaths of some six million Jews, Gypsies and other “non-acceptable” groups.

Uncertain times, fear and discontent are a ripe foundation for antisemitism. It does not have to be the Jew per-se who is selected for such false and dangerous philosophy. It is that the Jew as someone different than others is ripe for attack based on our ethnicity, our religious beliefs and the simple fact that we exist that make us ripe for a target in times of discontent. People look for someone to blame. Too often in history it is the Jew.


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