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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Arizona’s book ban reaches too far

    Imagine never reading “Harry Potter,” or going to the library and finding that the only books to read are about rainbows, lollipops and sunshine, but not unicorns because of their pointy horns.

    In early January, the Tucson Unified School District pulled certain books from Mexican-American studies classrooms in response to the state Legislature’s dismantling of the program.

    Although the move may not have been quite as drastic as removing all books referencing unhappy things, the decision led to accusations of book banning, which the district has denied. Copies of some pulled books were made available in school libraries. Still, removing books that could promote “racial insensitivity” is just another example of the unnecessary government influence on Tucson’s public schools.

    In 2010, the state government went as far as banning anything in classrooms that promoted the overthrow of government and ethnic segregation.

    Approximately 42 percent of the Tucson population is Hispanic, according to the 2010 Census. With these statistics in mind, the Tucson Unified School District’s governing board tried to fight the state’s ignorant laws but had to stand down or lose $15 million in funding.

    By threatening to withhold funds, the Arizona government is inexcusably flexing its muscles and threatening the integrity of the school system.

    One of the banned books is “Mexican WhiteBoy,” in which the Hispanic protagonist dreams of being a baseball star. The Arizona Department of Education banned it to prevent a Mexican-American studies teacher from using it inappropriately, as it contains “critical race theory,” according to The New York Times.

    The stupidity of this ban is almost too much to put into words. Just because a course could “potentially” support something doesn’t mean it will. Taking a math class at the UA could potentially cause a person to drop out of college and become a meth head, but we don’t ban math.

    Banning books is never a government’s responsibility. While it can recommend removing books from a curriculum, the outright ban of a book goes too far. Students should be able to read whatever they want to read, be it Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” or Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham.”

    When the government begins forbidding classes that advocate overthrowing the government, it means that it is doing something wrong. The U.S. was founded on rebellion. Also, anything learned in history class could technically promote overthrowing government. History is riddled with uprisings: France, China and South Africa all overthrew their governments to create society as it is today, for better or for worse.

    Yet, if a government were to ban a history class, it would look extremely repressive, like the Soviet Union or China. The only difference between banning a history class because of potential harm and a Mexican-American studies class because of potential harm is the name of the class.

    While it is clear the government is far too involved in school curriculums, another, more fundamental, ethical dilemma is apparent: People try so hard not to be racist that they become racist.

    If the people representing the state are deciding what books can and cannot be read in high school classrooms, they aren’t representing their constituents.

    Instead of putting people in office who will limit the opportunities for young readers, perhaps we should elect officials who actually own a library card.

    — Dan Desrochers is a chemistry freshman. He can be reached at or on Twitter via @WildcatOpinions .

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