The ACLU and Miami's Book "Ban"
by Humberto Fontova
A children's school book titled "Let's Go to Cuba" depicts Castro's fiefdom as a combination Emerald City and Willi Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Some American parents of Cuban heritage noticed it and filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade school board, who voted to remove the book from the public school library. The ACLU claims to be scandalized and filed suit to retain the book. "Today's precedent ” if allowed to stand" said the ACLU attorney, Howard Simon, "opens the door to yank virtually any book off the shelf of a school library at the whim of a single parent and a school board judgment that there is some inaccuracy or omission in a book."
A little perspective: between 1990 and 2000, the American Library Association documented more than 6,000 protests against school books by American parents. For every protest actually recorded, they estimate that four or five go unreported. The door the learned Mr Simon so dreads to hear creak open was yanked open long ago. It was propped open with a sturdy door-stop by a Supreme Court ruling in 1982 when (First Amendment fanatic) William Brennan wrote that local school boards had "broad discretion in the management of school affairs," adding that if they removed a book based on it's educational suitability or because the books were pervasively vulgar, such actions "would not be unconstitutional."
According to the ALA, over the past two decades, every single year sees between 400 and 600 such schoolbook protests in the U.S., much of it over material considered "racially insensitive," as when The Adventure's of Huckleberry Finn were yanked from an Illinois school library. In brief, attempted "book bannings'" identical to the one in Miami-Dade, have occurred at a rate of over one a day for the last two and half decades from sea to shining sea. In most of these the ACLU and the mainstream Media have been conspicuously mum.
But just let those insufferable Cuban-Americans try it! Then the ACLU promptly blasts its bugles, their media cronies affect grave frowns, the teachers unions get on their high horse and cries of "censorship!" and "book-banning!" flood the airwaves and headlines. "Miami-Dade School Board Bans (italics mine) Cuba Book" headlined the New York Times on June 15th.
Lest anyone forget, school boards are elected by their communities. They have no power to ban or censor anything on the national--or even a regional-- stage, screen or print. That same asinine book potentially "banned" at the urging of Cuban-American parents can be stacked in the windows of a book store next door to the school library. Indeed dozens of books twenty times as asinine, from Che Guevara's "Guerrilla War; A Method" (from someone who never fought in a guerrilla war) to Fidel Castro's own "History Will Absolve Me" (from modern history's most shameless liar), already blanket the literary landscape and overwhelmingly influence America's and most of the world's academic and media depictions of Cuba, hence their almost uniform absurdity.
Heaven knows Castro gets enough free publicity and soft-soaping from the worldwide Media /Academia axis as it is. So some Miami-Dade taxpayers have simply balked at subsidizing any more of this malignant idiocy, as millions of taxpayers throughout the U.S. for decades have balked at subsidizing everything from Heather Has Two Mommies to Huckleberry Finn to Little Black Sambo to Harry Potter--all without major objection from the ACLU and The New York Times-- indeed often with their accolades.
How the Miami parents' objections amount to a vile and unprecedented lust to "censor!" and "ban!" while all the others amount to spreading "tolerance" and "sensitivity" and "upholding community values" might be best explained by George Orwell who coined the term "Newspeak."
"Stalin tortured," wrote Arthur Koestler, "not to force you to reveal a fact, but to force you to collude in a fiction." Ditto for his Cuban understudy, Fidel Castro. For refusing to renounce principles, a man (or woman, Castro is an equal opportunity jailer-murderer) was jailed and tortured for ten, twenty or even thirty years-- the longest terms of political incarceration and torture in modern history, almost three times as long as Stalin himself tortured his victims.
Now in a wheelchair from the tortures, this U.S. citizen notices his granddaughter being taught that the regime that tortured him, that murdered his brother and cousin without trial, that stole his life's savings that jailed more people than Stalin's, that trained and harbored terrorists for decades and that craved to incinerate his adopted country with nuclear blasts --this regime, is being depicted in her school books as wise and kindly.
The depiction is outrageous enough, and the teaching of it to primary-graders is doubly outrageous. But that's not his objection. He understands perfectly well that his adopted countries' constitution defends a book espousing idiocies (as did the one in his native country pre-Castro, by the way.) Fine. But should this torture victim (and U.S. citizen) also be forced to subsidize the idiocies? Is his resistance to this subsidizing a dastardly deed while a Black father's yanking of Huckleberry Finn from his son's school library using the identical means a laudable and conscientious deed? Is the latter an upright "concerned parent"-- or even better, an "involved parent?"-- while the former a "censor" and bigoted "book- banner!"
You'd certainly think so from reading the mainstream media.
The U.S. taxpayers being scolded by the ACLU and the teacher's unions for balking at subsidizing Castroite propaganda include, among them, the world's longest-suffering political prisoners, jailed and tortured by Castro. A former political prisoner, in fact, brought the book to the attention of the school board in the first place and asked for it's removal from the public school library (not its "banning.") He urged this, not because the book was "insensitive" or "violated community standards," but simply because it was wrong--because it sought to teach falsehoods.
"The Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world." rhapsodized the ACLU's founder, Roger Baldwin about the Soviet Union. "Today I saw fresh, vigorous expressions of free living by workers and peasants all over the land."
But that was early in the game, you say. Nobody knew how Bolshevism would play out. It was an honest mistake. Come on, cut the guy some slack.
Actually Baldwin wrote this in 1934. He greatly admired Stalin's Russia. And not because of blinders or a Potemkin tour. He seemed to recognize the repression--and excuse it. "No champion of a socialist society could fail to see that some suppression was necessary to achieve it. It could not all be done by persuasion. When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies at home and abroad."
Small wonder the book 'Let's Go To Cuba" has such sentimental value for the ACLU. It gushes about Stalinist Cuba exactly like Roger Baldwin gushed about Stalinist Russia. The ACLU seems to recognize who picked up the torch from their founder's hero. Cuban-Americans' proud and unflinching status means the ACLU has a special beef with them. They remain the most vocal and unashamed anti-communists. Enlightened opinion regards them, at best, as quaint and musty museum pieces; at worst, raving maniacs hell-bent on imposing another McCarthyite Dark age.
Because they fought it alone, outnumbered and bare-fisted on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs and for half a decade in Cuba's hills, because many spent the longest political-prison terms in modern history for spitting in the face of its torturers, because their life savings and dreams were abolished by armed communists, because these tried to ram an insane world-view down their throats--for all these perfectly valid reasons, Cuban-Americans gag at the ACLU founder's prescription for a better world. "Baldwin, sir" assert Cuban-Americans with their every public act," you were either a scoundrel, an ignoramus or a jackass, probably all three." The ACLU cannot let them get away with that.
Typically, Frank Bolanos the Cuban-American School board member who urges the "book-banning," , understands and appreciates the U.S. constitution better than most of his native born journalistic and legal opponents with all their multifarious and glittering LLD degrees. "This is not a First Amendment issue," Bolanos wrote. "Censorship occurs when government refuses to allow people to purchase material, not when it refuses to provide that material at no charge."
Mr. Bolaños, again unlike his illustrious and mega-credentialed native-born foes, understands and reveres America's founding fathers. Thus he quotes Thomas Jefferson ``To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.''
Alas, by bringing up Thomas Jefferson in attempting to influence the ACLU and the teacher's unions, Mr Bolanos erred grievously. The ACLU's founder and guiding light seemed to prefer Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. And the teachers unions probably think Thomas Jefferson was the latest runner-up on American Idol.
Humberto Fontova is the author of Fidel; Hollywood's Favorite Tyrant, a Conservatvie Book Club, Main Selection.