by Andrew L. Pate
Concerned observers of today's political madness have to be wondering if the book-banners have ever read the literature they wish banished.
A quick glance at their banning arguments suggests very strongly that never have. certainly not with due seriousness. For they show little or no awareness of having read books like George Orwell's 1984 or Animal Farm, both of which present startling insights into the dangers a society faces when it sees books and their reading as the sources of great evil to which America's children and youth should never be exposed.
It's likely too, I think, that our 21st century book-banners have never done contemplative studies of Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer For if they had, they would not be for shutting them closed. Both are American classics for good reason.
An Australian educator, Rudoff Flesh, warned more than a century ago (1955, Why Johnny Can't Read) of the unfortunate consequences of children not learning to read.
Unfortunately, I haven't read much of the literature that children of the 21st century read. But I strongly suspect, that if there is any quality to those books, the youth are gaining critically important insights about themselves, their sexuality, and much more about life in general.
When Rudolf Flesh made us aware of the problem in 1955, I received his thesis as much needed; and I felt too that our society responded well. American reading improved.
So, what is our problem today? It has to do with our reasoning abilities, how we respond to what we read.
Why Johnny Can't Reason. Our book-banners of 2023 have no sound ideas about how to apply the insights of good literature. if they did, they'd require themselves and all Americans to read everything they possibly can, while determining for themselves what is good and what is not.