December 3, 2022

In Jamestown, Michigan, it’s in front of the local public library about six months until funding runs out and may have to close.

Last week, residents voted against passing one thousand million, which would increase property taxes, to fund the Patmos Public Library. What could make a town turn against its own library? Homophobic and hate speech—specifically, the misconception that children’s books containing LGBTQ characters are secretly about pornography or its use of child abuse, has exploded in the conservative worldview over the past year.

“A 50% increase in a thousand to take care of our children? Vote no at the library,” read one of the signs seen across town before voters go to the polls.

Debbie Mikola, executive director of the Michigan Library Association, said she believes the mill didn’t pass because the library has LGBTQ-themed books. “This is a comprehensive campaign against the library,” she said.

Two directors of the library left in Patmos this spring. One said it was due to online harassment and accusations of child abuse.

The library board has less than two weeks to get back millions of ballot papers for voting in November. If they don’t, the library will likely have to close permanently.

Mikola said the people in Jamestown are “very, very conservative, and they’re holding the library hostage.”

Alison McCrina, Director of the Library Freedom Project, said:
“In the past few years, public libraries have taken a stronger stance on racial justice and LGBT rights and representation,” said Alison McCrina, director of the Library Freedom Project. “That’s a reaction to that, for sure.”

Illustration: Jianan Liu/Half Post

Conservative disdain for most government institutions — such as schools or public health agencies — is not a new phenomenon. contemplate the way Right-wingers dealt with government officials World Health Organization Try to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. But now, perhaps openly encouraged by far-right politicians, they have set their sights on our public libraries.

“I’ve seen Republicans try to take over school boards all my life, but that’s very different,” Alison McCrina, director of the Library Freedom Project, a nonprofit, said of the shift to public libraries.

In the same way that parents in the ’80s and ’90s felt their children’s drift into Satanic cult, suburban moms now hurl wilted into the night over the horrors of books that might depict anything but conservative Christian morals.

“In the past few years, public libraries have taken a stronger stance on racial justice and LGBT rights and representation,” Macrina said. “That’s a reaction to that, for sure.”

And it’s a reaction we’re seeing all over the United States

A public library in Fenton, Iowa – a small town of about 5,000 people – closed temporarily in July after most staff resigned due to threats against LGBTQ members. People in the city complained that there were not enough books about former President Donald Trump, that LGBTQ books were on display, that members of the LGBTQ community worked there, According to the starting line in Iowa. The library reopened with all volunteer staff.

In Llano County, Texas, the county commission shut down the public library system for a few days in December in order to Review the books available for children And remove any questionable. They specifically targeted 850 books that state Republican Representative Matt Cruz personally deemed unsuitable for children earlier that year. he is He said His list of books included those that “may cause students to feel discomfort, guilt, distress, or any other form of psychological distress because of race or gender.”

Suzette Baker, a county librarian, reportedly refused to proceed. She told local reporters in March that she was She was fired from her job For not removing books, including Jazz Jennings’ memoir, a transgender teen. “It’s a biography of her growing up as a transgender teen, and it’s clear that this group thought this was too much for their children to read,” Becker said. “No one forces their children to read anything.”

Currently, Residents sue the countysaying that banning books is censorship and violates the rights of the First and Fourteenth Amendment.

A person sits at the Houston Public Library on April 26, 2022 in Houston, Texas.  A group of local residents is suing Llano County in federal court for the removal of the county and censorship of library books dealing with racism and LGBT issues.
A person sits at the Houston Public Library on April 26, 2022 in Houston, Texas. A group of local residents is suing Llano County in federal court for the removal of the county and censorship of library books dealing with racism and LGBT issues.

Brandon Bell via Getty Images

Freedom of expression advocates note that public libraries are not only targeted for one or two countries.

“It can’t be a coincidence that so many people across the country are getting the same message,” Jonathan Friedman, director of freedom of expression and education programs at PEN America, told HuffPost. “They are taking some of the ‘stolen election’ energy and directing it toward public schools and public libraries.”

But no single group leads the charge – instead, various groups, including Moms for Liberty or Catholic Vote, are promoting the same accounts.

“The nature of their organization is that ideas bounce from one group to another on Facebook,” Macrina said.

Moms For Liberty is a right-wing group with a modest name launched in 2021 by two former Florida school board members to fight for “parental rights,” including fights against mandates for masks and “critical race theory.” The group now claims to have 160 chapters in 33 states.

as such I mentioned media issuesMoms For Liberty partners with conservative groups to flood public libraries with children’s books that they Agree, like a children’s book against transgender people or a book that portrays Rush Limbaugh as a hero — without regard to what parents of gay or black children might feel.

For Pride Month, conservative political advocacy group Catholic Foote launched a campaign called Hide Pride. In June, the group encouraged parents to go to their public libraries and check out any LGBTQ or other books that conservatives don’t like — to prevent others from reading them. “Do you see rainbow flags passing by BLM everywhere? Including taxpayer-funded public spaces? We do. We take on the challenge head on,” read an online post with instructions on how to “restore” the library.

The group encouraged people to go to their libraries in groups and record themselves checking out books, then posted photos online of people doing exactly that. The group argued that their campaign was fair because parents were not consulted before placing these books in their libraries.

The obvious solution for these parents is not to allow their children to read about LGBT issues or racial justice. But that’s not why they really target libraries.

“They’re not interested in bargaining,” Friedman said. “Their goal is to silence them and stop them completely.”

There is a long tradition of book bans in the United States in the 1980s, the Moral Majority group, founded by Jerry Falwell, leading the charge in banning books. Thanks to the election of Ronald Reagan, the influence of evangelical Christians in public life has increased – and they have objected to any books that do not reflect their beliefs on them.

But while the movements echo one another, new efforts to ban books have certainly changed hands.

Right-wing culture warriors also have the support of elected officials. When they began their crusade, laws regarding book bans began appearing in state legislatures.

“I’ve never seen this kind of effort to change the laws,” Macrina said. “You’re seeing that down to a really micro level now.”

Even Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (right) have talked about banning books in speeches, making censorship of books red meat for Republican voters.

“Reactionaries are now proclaiming themselves Christian nationalists. They used to vigorously deny it,” Macrina said. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ge), a well-known figure in the right-wing movement, is now Selling T-shirts define itself as such.

These groups not only want to rid public libraries of books they don’t like, but they also want to reshape public life as we know it. That is why they claim that they are censored and that they promote freedom but are only interested in conservative views.

“It comes from some kind of Trumpian playbook,” Friedman said. All public institutions are enemies of the state.

It is only a matter of time before they set their sights on another institution.

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