In Jamestown, Michigan, the local public library has about six months to run out of funds and it could be forced to close.
Last week, residents voted against funding the Patmos Public Library through a plan to raise property taxes. What can turn a small town against its own library? Homophobic and hateful rhetoric — in particular, the myth that children’s books with LGBTQ characters secretly address pornography or be used to abuse children — has exploded in conservative worldviews over the past year.
“Increase 50% gross margin to raise our kids? Vote against the library,” a sign was seen in town before voters headed to the polls.
Debbie Mikula, executive director of the Michigan Library Association, said she didn’t think it passed because the library has LGBTQ-themed books. “It’s a full-scale campaign against libraries,” she said.
This spring, two of Patmos’ librarians left. One said it was because of allegations of online harassment and child abuse.
The library board has less than two weeks to get Milley back on the ballot in November. If they don’t, the library will likely have to close permanently.
People in Jamestown are “very, very conservative,” Mikula said. “They’re holding the library hostage.”
Conservative disdain for most government agencies — like schools or public health agencies — is not a new phenomenon.way of thinking Right-wingers treat government officials Who Attempt to blunt the impact of the coronavirus pandemicBut now, perhaps inspired by openly right-wing extremist politicians, they have their sights set on our public libraries.
“I’ve seen Republicans all my life trying to take over school boards, but it’s completely different,” said Alison Macrina, director of the Library Freedom Project, a nonprofit, of the move to public libraries.
Just as parents in the ’80s and ’90s worried about their children being drawn into satanic cults, suburban moms now flip through the horrors of books that might describe anything other than conservative Christian morals at night.
“Over the past few years, public libraries have taken a tougher stance on racial justice, queer rights and representation,” Macrina said. “Of course, that’s a reaction to that.”
Here’s the reaction across America
A public library in Vinton, Iowa — a town of about 5,000 residents — temporarily closed in July after most of its staff resigned over threats to LGBTQ members. People in town are complaining that there aren’t enough books about former President Donald Trump, LGBTQ books are on display, where members of the LGBTQ community work, According to the Iowa starting line. Libraries reopened, all volunteers.
In Llano County, Texas, the county commission shut down the public library system for several days in December to allow View books for children and remove any deemed problematic. They specifically targeted 850 books earlier that year that Republican state Rep. Matt Kruse personally deemed unsuitable for children.he Say His list includes books that “may make students feel uncomfortable, guilty, distressed or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or gender.”
The county’s librarian, Suzette Baker, reportedly declined to participate.She told local reporters in March that she had been fired For not removing books, including a memoir by transgender teen Jazz Jennings. “It’s a biography of her growing up as a transgender teenager, and obviously this group of people thought it was too hard for their kids to read,” Baker said. “No one was forcing their kids to read anything.”
Now, Resident sues countysaying the book ban is censorship that violates their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Free speech advocates have noted that targeting public libraries is not limited to one or two states.
“It’s no coincidence that multiple people across the country are getting the same message,” Jonathan Friedman, director of the Free Expression and Education Program at PEN America, told the Huffington Post. “They’re taking advantage of some ‘stolen elections.’ energy and use it in public schools and public libraries.”
But no single group actually leads the charge — instead, different groups, including pro-freedom moms or Catholic Vote, are pushing the same narrative.
“The nature of their organization is that these ideas bounce from group to group on Facebook,” Macrina said.
Moms For Liberty is an obscurely named right-wing group launched in Florida in 2021 by two former school board members to fight for “parental rights,” including an order against mask-wearing and “critical race theory.” The organization now claims to have 160 chapters in 33 states.
as media affairs coverageMoms For Liberty partners with conservative group to fill public libraries with children’s books them Agree, like an anti-trans children’s book or a book that paints Rush Limbaugh as a hero—without regard to the feelings of parents of LGBTQ or black children.
For Pride month, Catholic Vote, a conservative political advocacy group, launched a campaign called “Hidden Pride.” In June, the group encouraged parents to go to their public library to check out any LGBTQ or other conservative books — to prevent others from reading them. “Have you seen rainbow trans-BLM flags everywhere? Included in your public, taxpayer-funded space? We are. We’re up to the challenge,” reads an online flyer with a book on how to “recycle” Description of the museum.
The group encourages people to go to the library in groups, record themselves looking at books, and then post pictures of people doing so online. The group argued that their campaign was fair because no parents were consulted before the books were placed in the library.
For these parents, the obvious solution is to keep their own children from reading about LGBTQ issues or racial justice. But that’s not the real reason they’re targeting libraries.
“They’re not interested in compromise,” Friedman said. “Their goal is to shut them down and stop them altogether.”
America’s Tradition of Banning Books Has a Long History In the 1980s, the Moral Majority, founded by Jerry Falwell, led the way in banned books. Thanks to the election of Ronald Reagan, Christian evangelicals have grown in influence in public life – they oppose any book that doesn’t reflect their faith back in their books.
But while the movements echo each other, the new effort to ban books has certainly changed.
Right-wing cultural fighters are also supported by elected officials. When they began their crusades, laws on banned books began to appear in state legislatures.
“I’ve never seen this kind of effort to change the law,” Macrina said. “What you’re seeing now is really at the micro level.”
Even Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis have spoken about book bans in speeches, leaving Republican voters red meat about book censorship.
“Reactionaries now advertise themselves as Christian nationalists. They used to vehemently deny that they are,” Macrina said.A popular figure in the right-wing movement, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-Ga.) is now sell t-shirts Identify yourself.
Not only do these groups want to remove books they don’t like from public libraries, but they also want to reshape public life as we know it. That’s why they claim they are being censored and are promoting freedom, but only care about conservative views.
“It came from a Trump-like playbook,” Friedman said. “All public institutions are enemies of the state.”
It was only a matter of time before they set their sights on another institution.