Thursday, June 22, 2006

ACLU Fights To Keep Communist Propaganda In School Library

Crossposted from Stop The ACLU

Hat tip:

The American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal judge to stop the
Miami-Dade County school district from removing a series of children's books
from its libraries, including a volume about Cuba which depicts smiling kids in
communist uniforms.

The ACLU and the Miami-Dade County Student Government Association argued in a
lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on Wednesday that the school board
should add materials with alternate viewpoints rather than remove books that
could be offensive.

Last week, the board voted 6-3 to remove "Vamos a Cuba" and its English-language
version, "A Visit to Cuba" from 33 schools, stating the books were inappropriate for young readers because of inaccuracies and omissions about life in the
communist nation.

The book, by Alta Schreier, targets students ages 5 to 7 and contains images of
smiling children wearing uniforms of Cuba's communist youth group and a carnival
celebrating the 1959 Cuban revolution. The district owns 49 copies of the book
in Spanish and English.

To the ACLU it doesn't seem to matter that the books are misleading, inaccurate,
and inappropriate for this age group. It doesn't matter to the ACLU that the
book is pure propaganda. To the ACLU it is a book ban. It just so happens that
the message portrayed in the book seems to
go along with their founder's beliefs.

“I have been to Europe several times, mostly in connection with
international radical activities…and have traveled in the United States to areas
of conflict over workers rights to strike and organize. My chief aversion is the system of greed, private profit, privilege and
violence which makes up the control of the world today, and which has brought it
to the tragic crisis of unprecedented hunger and unemployment…Therefore, I am
for Socialism, disarmament and ultimately, for the abolishing of the State
itself…I seek the social ownership of property, the abolition of the propertied
class and sole control of those who produce wealth. Communism is the goal."
~ Roger Baldwin-founder of the ACLU~

Here is another one from Mr. Baldwin.

“Do steer away from making it look like a Socialist enterprise…We
want also to look like patriots in everything we do. We want to get a good lot
of flags, talk a good deal about the Constitution and what our forefathers
wanted to make of this country, and to show that we are really the folks that
really stand for the spirit of our institutions.”-Baldwin’s advice in 1917 to
Louis Lochner of the socialist People’s Council in Minnesota.

I'm sure the ACLU's founder would be proud of the ACLU's move to protect the
propaganda of his ideology. The ACLU's main point of argument is that banning
one point of view is the wrong way to deal with the situation is lost when it is
five year olds potentially being exposed to this crap. To the ACLU this is
nothing more than a book ban, and they are asking the school to include more
alternative views instead of banning unpopular ones. No one has to ask if they
would fight this hard to keep a Bible in the school library, or whether their
strength would be focused on getting rid of it.
Take this however you want, but the ACLU has never strayed very far from its
founding principles.

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BobG said...

Good one, Chris, inaccuracy has never been a stumbling block for the ACLU. They thrive on it.

Michael Caputo said...

July 8, 2006

By Frank Bolanos

Mr. Frank Bolanos is a member of the Miami-Dade School Board

If the Newark, New Jersey school board decided to issue "Little Black Sambo" as a third grade reader, how would that largely African-American community react?

Famed progressive educator Carl L. Marburger posed this question in 1974, when he said controversial schoolbooks in rural West Virginia showed the public school system's "astonishing insensitivity to local cultural values."

Those aggrieved local folks endured the insults, catcalls and jeers of the liberal elite until Marburger, a self-described liberal's liberal, spoke up and gave them pause. Today, the Miami-Dade school board and I are being accused of censorship for our efforts to remove from school libraries "Vamos a Cuba," a children's book that paints a false and distorted portrait of life in communist Cuba.

If the teachers' unions, Herald columnists, the ACLU and Fidel Castro himself are to be believed, the Miami-Dade school board is pillaging school libraries, burning books, oppressing the intellectual freedom of helpless children, and stomping on the First Amendment.

None of this is true; this is not a First Amendment issue. Censorship occurs when government refuses to allow people to purchase material, not when it refuses to provide that material at no charge.

Just as the First Amendment grants basic freedoms to those espousing even the most repugnant of views, I support Alta Schreier's right to author and publish "Vamos a Cuba." I defend the right of any Miami bookstore to sell it and I defend the right of any American to read it. Indeed, let the author promote and sell her book and compete in the marketplace of ideas.

But taxpayers must not be forced to subsidize falsehoods, propaganda or insulting imagery. As Thomas Jefferson, wrote, "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Simply put, Jefferson, a framer of the Constitution our critics cite, would see no reason for our schools to spend sparse taxpayer money to promote the circulation of misinformation and lies many in our community equate to oppression and the loss of liberty and life.

If our public schools provided "Little Black Sambo" to African-America children, I would stand with their parents as this would be offensive, racist and an inappropriate use of tax dollars. If our public schools put the grotesquely anti-Semitic children's book "The Poisonous Mushroom" into libraries, I would stand with Jewish parents to oppose this abhorrent act and misappropriation of public funds. The struggle against Cuban communism is no less important.

In 1995, the Miami Herald was forced to trash an entire section after an offensive cartoon of Martin Luther King, Jr. was mistakenly printed inside. Over the nationally syndicated cartoonist's objections, editors made the bold decision to pull a half million copies of the magazine.

They did it by hand; it took two full days. It was hard and expensive work to correct a mistake that took only moments to make. Similarly, a foolish decision by an entrenched bureaucracy had to be corrected and has cost our school district valuable time, money and focus.

After the mess, the Herald's executive editor at the time wrote that the newspaper's First Amendment obligation is "to present the broadest range of perspectives and opinions in its news and opinion pages. But a newspaper also has an obligation to protect its readers from the outrageously offensive or the egregiously insensitive."

If such an obligation exists at a privately funded newspaper, certainly Miami's public officials have a responsibility to assure taxpayers aren't forced to subsidize racism, anti-Semitism or communism with public dollars.

Likewise, taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for entrenched and misguided bureaucrats who want to whitewash the horrors of life under Fidel Castro and his brutal regime.


Jan-Erik said...

I agree, all viewpoints that oppose right-wing conservative Christian viewpoints should be banned. Those who express opinions contrary to the state should be executed.

I thought you guys were for liberty?

CHRIS LEAV said...

As you can see, I publish contrary viewpoints here, Jan-Erik. However, I don't think it's appropriate for children to be taught outright lies about Cuba. This is not a "different viewpoint," and it certainly has nothing to do with "right-wing conservative Christians."

I would disagree with them having a book that incorrectly characterized any nation, or region. Say, a book that extolled the virtues of Nazi Germany, or Saudi Arabia. Come on, see beyond your politics, sir.