Charlie Spiering: Obama's Disingenuous Attack on Parents Challenging Sexually Graphic Children's Books In Schools

Columnist Charlie Spiering writes, "Americans by nature are not comfortable with censorship and bans on books, but it is entirely within our purview to expect publicly-funded librarians to respectfully curate materials to limit children's exposure to pornographic content in our schools."

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Charlie Spiering

July 21, 20233 min read

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President Barack Obama on Monday criticized Americans trying to limit their children's exposure to sexually graphic materials in their schools and public libraries as "profoundly misguided" in a letter to librarians. 

As Cowboy State Daily's Clair McFarland has detailed, many of the books that Wyoming parents are challenging are designed to appeal to children and
feature sexually graphic images unsuitable for minors. Concerned parents are raising valid concerns about these books and whether they belong in school libraries. 

The former president suggests these parents are bigots, by raising concerns in local school board and government meetings about the questionable materials. 

"It’s no coincidence that these 'banned books' are often written by or feature people of color, indigenous people, and members of the LGBTQ+ community," Obama wrote disapprovingly.

With his letter, Obama sides with a growing attempt by the American left to smear conservatives as trying to ban books across the country, rather than addressing the concerning content showing up in children's libraries. 

Such efforts, Obama writes, are signs of an "authoritarian" society, and an offense to the First Amendment. 

No Constitutional freedom-loving American wants to be on the side of censorship as the idea of banned books elicits the communists and the Nazis who tried to ban or burn books challenging their socialist ideals. Parents, however, are justifiably raising concerns about sexually explicit content within books in their schools. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis famously drove home the distinction in March, when he began a
press conference playing a highlight video of the sexually graphic content found in school libraries. The content was so explicit, that some media organizations were forced to censor them or provide content warnings to their viewers. 

To elicit bipartisan support for his claims, Obama tries to tie these concerned parents to the leftist attempts to remove or change language now deemed offensive in future publications of established works. He specifically cited classic authors like Mark Twain and Walt Whitman to make his point. 

"Today, some of the books that shaped my life — and the lives of so many others — are being challenged by people who disagree with certain ideas or perspectives," he wrote. 

It's hard to imagine that contested graphic books like "Gender Queer" and "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves" helped shape the president's life and perspective, but the overall criticism of censorship is a welcome one when leftists are trying "fix" American classics or boot them from school curriculums 

In his letter, Obama wrote that "the impulse seems to be to silence, rather than engage, rebut, learn from or seek to understand views that don’t fit our own."

If he is truly open to engaging opposite views, the former president should review the materials that American parents are challenging and address them in detail, rather than trying to unilaterally dismiss their concerns as anti-American. 

Americans by nature are not comfortable with censorship and bans on books, but it is entirely within our purview to expect publicly-funded librarians to respectfully curate materials to limit children's exposure to pornographic content in our schools. 

Charlie Spiering is a Wyoming native who works in Washington, D.C., where he continues writing about the White House, Congress and national politics. A former writer for Breitbart News, The Washington Examiner and columnist Robert Novak, Spiering frequently returns home to the family farm in Powell to escape the insanity of Washington.

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