Youngkin’s Closing Pitch: Book Banners Support Me!
Just yesterday morning, I pondered what Glenn Youngkin meant when he talked about banning “critical race theory” and other things he didn’t like from Virginia schools. These were my questions.
So now we have to ask: will Youngkin ban “whiteness,” “cultural awareness,” and “abolitionist teaching” from being taught – or even mentioned – in schools in the Commonwealth. Do we really want to find out?
Apparently, Youngkin was eager to tell us! Within hours of the post going up on Bearing Drift, the Republican nominee for Governor slapped up an ad starring a woman who wanted to ban Toni Morrison from AP English in Fairfax County (HuffPo).
A GOP activist who wanted to ban the classic Toni Morrison novel “Beloved” from one of the nation’s largest school districts is featured in a new ad for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.
The woman, Laura Murphy, started her campaign in 2012 after her son, then a senior in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, had night terrors after reading the book in his Advanced Placement English class.
“Beloved,” told from the perspective of a mother forced to kill her 2-year-old daughter to protect her from being returned to slavery in the years after the Civil War, features scenes of bestiality and rape. It is one of the most frequently assigned books for high school English classes, and is on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently banned books.
The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and was adapted into a feature film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1988.
Murphy sought a temporary ban on the book until new rules governing how schools would handle books with “objectionable material” were put in place, The Washington Post reported in 2013.
Now, I’m not going to minimize night terrors; those who suffer them deserve the best care. Moreover, for those who think students and parents should be able to opt out of particular assigned works, existing law already allows for that, as noted by none other than Youngkin’s opponent, Terry McAuliffe (same link).
At the time, McAuliffe said schools had sufficient protections in place — including giving students the option to request alternative materials — and teachers feared advance notice would lead to parents dismissing the educational value of some books.
That’s not enough for Murphy, however (or Youngkin apparently). It was her way or the highway. She’d rather the book had been banned for the entire school system. Why, it’s almost as if she didn’t think “parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
One might even call that – what was that phrase again? – cancel culture.
Youngkin has managed to bring himself into contention – and not weakly – by harping on fear of “critical race theory,” railing against Terry McAuliffe, and refusing to make clear just what he means.
Now we know. The Republican who would be Governor is going all in for the cancel-an-African-American-author-that-mothers-of-former-Trump-interns-don’t-like demographic. I guess we’ll see how it all works out in a week.