I think the recent headlines regarding a lack of knowledge about the Holocaust just serve to reinforce how important it is to continue to allow access to and discussion of Mein Kampf. Only by remembering what happened and by studying Hitler’s mindset and psychology can we understand – as much as is possible – what happened and thereby try to prevent it from happening again. And any consideration of banning Mein Kampf should also consider the fact that book banning (and burning) was an early part of Hitler’s reign, too.
Pro tip number one: Pick a word any word – except maybe the hash tag #MeToo. The Me Too Movement, founded by a Black American woman named Tarana Burke to encourage empathy and empowerment for sexual assault survivors, became ubiquitous online and off-line in 2017. In China, women have been using the coded phrase “rice bunny” (米兔), pronounced as “mi tu” to get around would-be censors who would shut down conversations online about sexual harassment.
Likewise, it says a great deal about the importance of librarians, library paraprofessionals, museum curators, archivists, educators, and anyone else involved in the protection and promotion of cultural heritage and protection of intellectual freedom. Knuth’s book demonstrates that librarians can be active participants in protecting cultural history, or they can be twisted to add legitimacy to the regime’s propaganda.
For those familiar with censorship in China, the Chinese government’s banning of books on the politics and history of its leaders (both past and present) is not a new phenomenon.
Intellectual freedom provides our world with innovation: new technology, cures to diseases, new ways of providing food to starving communities. Intellectual freedom enriches culture. Answering the question, “why is intellectual freedom important” is something I am continuing to explore and think about.
It is not only the religion that becomes the cause of censorship; politics and interests of the government are secondary causes. Censorship has always been strongly imposed upon journalism, and due to this tradition, authors have gotten into the habit of self-censoring their work.
Khalili spent six months during the Iranian Revolution distributing books to Iranian businesses, residents and government officials. After the first month of the new regime, however, Khalili said he had to stop.
The biggest questions concerning Intellectual Freedom in this country have always revolved around the right to speak, write, or otherwise express dissent on any given topic; most importantly on political or social issues.
ALA’s 2017 Annual Conference is in Windy City Chicago and the Office for Intellectual Freedom will be there staffing the different committee meetings and programs. Committee meetings and programs are open to any attendee, and they’re often a good way to learn about the business of ALA and its intellectual freedom initiatives.
Long after we won the Cold War, communism is still a fighting word for many in the United States. And materials for children and young adults are the source of most challenges to books and intellectual freedom, so this combination was a combustible one.