By Luis Miranda
Prohibitions and democracy
This month marks 25 years since my father's physical disappearance. Upon returning from the hospital in the midst of great sadness, we found 2 books on his nightstand, one by Gabriel García Marquez; "Love in the time of cholera" and the other by Isabel Allende; "The House of Spirits".
These two books are fundamental representatives, not only of Latin American culture, but of universal literature.
Banning books has no rational or logical explanation from the point of view of science, psychology, educational sciences and humanism in general. The progress of the so-called Western Civilization lies precisely in the guarantee of free expression, enshrined by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Last year, the State of Florida implemented a shameful book ban policy; which can well be considered equivalent to the book burnings carried out, more or less, a century ago
by Adolf Hitler.
See these books that accompanied my father until his last moments, prohibited by a fascist, retrograde and retarded spirit; It is a warning bell that forces us to these reflections.
These bans represent more than 40% of censorship in the United States, according to a report by Pen América; a non-profit organization that works to defend freedom of expression. A right guaranteed by the constitution as a fundamental principle of the existence of our democracy cannot now be threatened by a wave of far-right politicians who display pathological ignorance.
Books are the soul of democratic societies in the world and we would not be able to understand the condition of human beings without historical, philosophical and literary references. Human rights and the very existence of democratic societies in the world depend on that freedom to access the knowledge and culture of each of our countries.
Florida definitively became a dictatorial, fascist state when more than 350 books were banned from public school libraries in Collier County, southwest of the State.
The extensive list included 16 titles by Stephen King and other authors such as R.R. Martin, Joyce Carol Oates, John Grisham, Nora Roberts and Wiston Groom; There are classics of all time and very important contemporary novels.
Works by Haruki Murakami (Kafka on the Shore) were banned; Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid's Tale); George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones); Ken Follet (The Pillars of the Earth); Laura Esquivel (Like water for chocolate); Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Love in the Time of Cholera, Chronicle of a Death Foretold); Dan Brown (Angels & Demons); Herman Hesse (Siddhartha); John Irving (Garp's World); Isabel Allende (The House of the Spirits); Winston Groom (Forrest Gump).
The above; thanks to the fact that as of July 1 of this year, law 1069 came into effect in the State which, according to a statement from Governor Ron DeSantis' office, “protects students from having to declare their pronouns in the school". Additionally, this bill expands 'parental rights in education by prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity from preschool through eighth grade.'
The legal text establishes that the content of a book that “represents or describes sexual conduct” can be challenged and prohibited to teach topics related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Now, in order to have access to these, parents must be the ones who expressly authorize their children to read them. This is part of the package of laws announced by the Republican governor as “Let Kids Be Kids.”
In that order, not only King gave his opinion regarding the banning of more than a dozen of his books when he ironically expressed on his account on the X platform: “16 of my books? I must be doing something right,” in the same way as the singer Alecia Beth Moore Hart, also known as Pink, who, during her performances in South Florida; gave away 2,000 banned books in association with PEN America. The singer was in Miami and Sunrise as part of her “Trustfall Tour.”
The real fact is that both the governor and the far-right legislators who have implemented these absurd laws; They lack a humanistic education and are incapable of understanding how the science of human psychology has evolved, but they also resort to agitating issues like these; as well as immigration problems to use them politically, appealing to the lack of knowledge of the rights of many immigrants, who without further criteria, receive these laws that charge them with the task of regulating "The educational system."
What is happening in Texas with the ruling of the Supreme Court against the policies of Governor Abbott, who, ignoring federal and constitutional laws on immigration, endangers the innocent lives of the weakest social sectors, constitutes another example of the failures that Far-right politicians are provoking the country.
Use the problems of the southern border to attack the president and win votes; It is appealing to base passions by promoting hatred. His record leaves a lot to be desired.
In February 2021 there were massive utility failures, power outages, water and food shortages, and dangerous weather conditions; A terrible energy crisis occurred in the State of Texas that deeply affected the economy and social stability of millions of citizens. Republican officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, blamed the crisis on frozen wind turbines and solar panels, but independent studies and scientists reported that the lack of standard winterization technology and frozen natural gas lines; were the main causes of the crisis. They continue to deny science and global warming, they do not recognize the advances and reports on the aberrant and failed actions of the police authorities in the massacre of children and teachers in Uvalde; reveals the disdain for Latinos and minorities under these extremist administrations.
The banning of books, laws on education, ignorance of science, the denial of the catastrophe of climate change, added to the manipulation of voters through the religious fanaticism of some churches that promote irrational hatred towards those who do not think like them. . Intolerance towards LGBTQ communities and towards immigrant minorities reveals a great ignorance that goes against the very spirit of the principles and values on which the most representative democracy in history has been built.
Our duty as Latinos and as Democrats is to defend the values, achievements and work of President Joe Biden, who has rescued the country from authoritarianism and the crisis into which the previous administration plunged it, and to support his fight to save democracy.