Censoring Mark Twain and Harper Lee?

The DNT’s story on our Administration pulling Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird out of our curriculum made it to the Washington Post and the New York Times. A friend of mine asked me on Facebook about it today?

Harry, what’s up with the school board outlawing Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird?

I explained:

I am off the Board now so I am innocent. However, they are not banned. They are still in our libraries. It’s just that they won’ t be part of the curriculum. I think this story is much ado about nothing….however another story noted that today only 8 percent of high school students believe that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. That is alarming.

My friend told me I should read an editorial out of Post today that mentioned the 8 percent figure. Here’s the story which first publicized it.

Had our District pulled any book from our school libraries I would have joined the ACLU or any other group to object but that’s not what we did. That issue did face us in 1996, my first year on the Board, in a book which had the “N” word War Comes to Willie Freeman.

Anyone who cares about American history can not escape it. The N word appears in this blog. However, American schools seem to have been paralyzed by all manner of academic controversies. Teachers tippy toe around controversies. Slavery and race are radioactive, and Texas dependably leads the way to keep schools pro-Dixie and Christian Fundamentalist with its state-wide buys of text books that dis evolution, human driven global warming and other verboten truths and consequently impose these standards on all US text books.

Even so, both of the books scrubbed from English classes in Duluth are white centric and tied to earlier Eras in which white Americans were the champions for downtrodden blacks while the blacks had no agency. These are great books but it takes brave teachers to talk about these subjects. Too bad so many keep their heads down. This just keeps the next generation ignorant.

A couple more words to add to the thousand these pictures tell

After my Aunt Mary’s memorial service everyone was welcomed to a dinner reception about which were placed photographs of my aunt’s life and family. When I saw the two of these posed together I whipped out my cell phone to take a picture of them doing my best to hide the glare of the Tucson sun shining on them. Aunt Mary’s neice was behind me as I took the picture. She hadn’t seen them before so I told her their back story.

A few folks have no doubt stumbled upon my old web page with the pictures I took with my new Yashika Camera of my Grandmother’s Topeka home after it was blown off its foundation by a 1966 tornado. It flattened the neighborhood and six people died on her block as I recall.

The picture on the left side was taken by one of my uncles when they went to salvage things from the debris. You can see the top of a poster posed in front of the wreckage. That poster was blown up from the picture to its right of my Aunt Mary when she was a May Queen candidate at Topeka’s Washburn College. I used to marvel at this eight-foot tall poster every time I went to my Grandmother, Ruth Welty’s, basement where it was retired after Mary’s successful campaign. In the aftermath of the tornado its a little worse for wear.

My Dad was nine years older than his little sister. He had given up the life of being a bank clerk for his Uncle by the time of the May Queen festivities and was enrolled at Washburn to earn a law degree. I was in the picture by this point and vaguely remember the “barracks” (WW 2 army recruit housing) that we lived in on campus for all the newly married parents of the baby boom. While at law school my politically savvy Dad realized he could be of help to her campaign.

Any Washburn student was eligible to vote for May Queen but the older law students had little time for undergraduate hijinks and never bothered to participate. My Dad was determined to change that. He put the publicity poster for his little sister in the law school and began rounding up votes. This fetching poster was a big hit and he was wildly successful.

I had seen the ruined poster’s picture years before but had no idea I would get to see it again or that I would see the original 8 by 10 inch photo beside it. I should add that my Aunt Mary was a stunning woman even at age 82 and every bit as svelte as she was in her collegiate days.

When I was born my Aunt Mary called me “Treensie.” Every year on my birthday she would call and ask if Treensie was home. The last time was December. She was calling from a hospital where she was about to undergo a major operation although she did not yet know this at the time. Shortly afterword I learned that she was in grave condition. Coincidentally, I was scheduled to be in Northeastern Arizona shortly to visit my Brother-in-Law who would be wintering in Bullhead, City. I bought a ticket to fly to see her in what would have been the middle of this last week. That would end up being two days before what would become Aunt Mary’s memorial service. I just missed her but she would have been pleased by the memories her grandchildren told the gathering at St. Albans Episcopal Church about their “Grandmary.” What a perfect name for her.

Cooled off…for now

I forgot that I was seething before leaving for Arizona. Its not that there aren’t plenty of things to seethe about with a President whose hourly lies are not fake but but its just that rationality calls for a temperate frame of mind before making big decisions like running for State Auditor. I understand our former Congresswoman Michelle Bachman has just decided not to run but that doesn’t seem to be temperance. She evidently failed to hear God command her to run for President after she started praying about it. That’s almost enough for me to reconsider my agnosticism.

I’ve had a weekend away visiting family and helping lay my Aunt Mary to rest in Arizona.

When I start Seething I think of filing for public office – and I’m seething

I just dashed off my latest campaign finance report showing that I have $511 in the bank which I could put to use to run for the School Board again in 2019. But on my trip home from delivering it I heard an infuriating story on Minnesota Public Radio. It was about hysterical Republican Facebook Posts from GOP legislators warning that Muslim infiltrators were going to take over this year’s GOP precinct caucuses. OMG!!!!!!!! Isis in the heartland!

The story is not yet up on the MPR website but its been reported on the Minneapolis Strib.

I began the book, Driven Out, about a similar hysteria just before my August trip to China. Its about the Era of the “Yellow Peril” and the Chinese Exclusion Act back in the 19th century. It would have prevented the cousins of today’s Minnesota GOP Chair, Jennifer Carnahan, (a Korean-American) from entering the United States. It was the realization of the Trumpian and now Republican dream to limit immigration to Norwegians. To her credit Chair Carnahan, said of her party: “There is no religious test to participate in the Republican caucus,” and “We welcome those who are in agreement with the values of the Republican Party, those who voted Republican in the last election or plan to vote with the party in November.”

What inflamed the hysteria was a video of a Bangladeshi professor encouraging people to attend Republican caucuses. So did the PTL Club’s Pat Robertson, only when Pat in 1988 he was running for President and told his supporters to hide their religious convictions. Talk about a sneaky take over.

Two GOP legislators warned that this caucus training was was the first step in replacing our Constitution with Sharia Law. I found this ignorance deeply offensive. Not quite twenty years ago I made a very close friend on the Internet who was a native of Bangladesh. Claudia and I met her whole family not long afterward. Shortly after 9-11 hit America she feared the Islamic backlash that began sweeping over America. A vile bumper sticker that was part of the backlash prompted me to make a small modification to the Pledge of Allegiance I recited before our school board meetings.

Its not Muslims that have me worried. For the past ten years I have been uploading frequent posts to my blog under the category “God’s Own Party.” These have detailed the Party’s takeover by folks who believe that America is a Christian Nation rather than a nation that offers all religions equal footing under the Constitution. The category contains nearly 700 posts.

As Duluth’s perennial candidate I’m contemplating driving down to the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office this summer to file for state-wide office as a Lincoln Republican. I could use the $511 dollars I’ve set aside for a school board race and jump into the fray to hurl abuse at the traitors to the spirit of our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

I could direct salvos against one of Trump’s first milquetoast casualties in the 2016 campaign, Tim Pawlenty, who helped pave the way for Duluth’s disastrous Red Plan or Rebecca Otto, who as State Auditor ignored the petition Duluth voters sent her to audit the Red Plan. She’s angling for the Gubernatorial race but if Chris Coleman or Tim Walz get get the DFL nomination she could retreat back to the Auditor campaign. I’ve already hurled a little abuse at her. She deserved it and I know something about State Auditors.

The first rough draft…..

of History.

It made it to this week’s Reader. It begins:

I stopped in a used bookstore in Bullhead City, Arizona, last week and found about 25,000 mostly paperback books. I asked for the nonfiction section and was directed to four shelves containing perhaps 100 books. If the lion’s share of romances, westerns and thrillers in that store reflect our psyches, perhaps it’s no wonder Donald Trump looked like a sure bet to a lot of voters. I removed 4 percent of the store’s history books at two bucks a pop and read half of one of one book, “Fierce Patriot,” on my overnight flights back to Duluth.