Just when I think it can’t get any worse, it gets worse. Our State (Mississippi) Auditor, Shad White, wants to ban books. I really thought—had hoped—we had moved past this type of backward thinking, but alas, we have not. As some sort of strange conjunction of circumstances, White wants to ban one book about whiteness, in addition to other books that address racism and are written for children.
Usually, when you hear of people wanting to ban books, you think of ignorant people who have never experienced much in their lives. Had our governor, Tate Reeves, made this request I would not have been surprised, given he seems to lack a certain level of intelligence. But White is educated, a J.D. from Harvard, and he is married to a woman who, with her family, immigrated some years back from India. So, he is not the typical ignorant red neck.
White claims, correctly I think, that children should be protected from what they are exposed to. Most of us agree with that and that is why we try to find books of an appropriate age level for children and we want to protect them from as much as we can. But interestingly, why would a Republican not think this was a matter for parents to consider? Why should we ban books when we should simply let parents choose what books their children read?
Banning books is something that has been done in the past, usually by authoritarian states. They want to control what the people hear so that they can continue to be manipulated by the government. I am not aware of any situation in which banning books worked or was in the public interest.
Books are ways to express ideas, ideas are thoughts, so what White is really trying to is control people’s thoughts. He clearly does not want people being exposed to thoughts and ideas that are controversial. His attitude, and I might add the attitude of so many of the remaining so-called Republicans, is that people are too dumb to read something without thinking about it critically. I think that idea reflects more how gullible they are than how gullible the public is. I have read and been exposed to many controversial ideas over the years. Some have made me think, some have made me angry, and some have made me change my mind about a topic. But, I have also read widely, looked at all sides of a position, and then decided what I think. White seems to think that if we read these controversial books, we will swallow their ideas hook, line, and sinker, without thinking about them. It is really a sad outlook on life if you think about it.
Like so many elected officials in Mississippi, Auditor Shad White is wrong about this. However, sadly, he seems to think like the other so-called Republicans these days. What used to be a party of somewhat educated people has now become the party of anti-intellectuals. White is merely the next generation of politicians to follow Trump. May the Lord have mercy on our state.