Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Hypocrites in Miami: Cuban Refugees Trying to Ban School Library Book
On June 14, 2006, the Miami-Dade County School Board voted to remove the book "Vamos A Cuba" from all school libraries in the school district. The ACLU challenged this decision in Federal District Court. In an extremely detailed, thorough, and well-reasoned opinion, the Court issued a preliminary injunction requiring the book to be returned to the shelves pending final hearing.
According to Frontpage Magazine writer Humberto Fontova, in this commentary, the book "depicts Castro's fiefdom as a combination Emerald City and Willi Wonka's Chocolate Factory." This is such a gross distortion of reality that it's obvious Fontova never even looked at the book.
Here are some of the allegedly pro-Castro communist statements contained in the book, which is a library book, not required reading in any classes, and was written for elementary school students: "Cuba is a country in the Caribbean Sea, south of Florida." "Cuba has flat plains that are used for farmland." "Many kinds of fruits grow in Cuba." "Baseball is Cuba's national sport." The book is replete with this kind of outrageous propagandistic misinformation.
What Fontova omits from his commentary is that two separate school district committees comprised of numerous local professional educators, as well as the School Superintendent himself, rigorously analyzed and evaluated the book and found it to be "scrupulously apolitical," accurate, and educationally significant and developmentally appropriate.
The School Board voted to ban the book because it omits the harsh truth about totalitarian life in Communist Cuba. In other words, because the book is neutral in its viewpoint, it is too favorable to Communist Cuba. Remember, this is a book that was written for kids ages 4 to 8.
The problem with the School Board's position is that the First Amendment prohibits school officials from removing books from library shelves "simply because they dislike the ideas contained in the books and seek by their removal to 'prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion.'" The Miami-Dade County School Board voted to remove the book precisely and only for those reasons which are prohibited by the very law they were sworn to uphold.
Amador Rodriguez, the concerned parent who initiated the book ban, said: "The book is correct in that in Cuba you can read, but you can only read what they tell you to." How ironic it is that by trying to make the school board remove the book from the library, this professed freedom-loving Cuban refugee is seeking to accomplish exactly that which he says he was trying to escape.
The solution that is supported by the First Amendment is for Mr. Rodriguez not to seek to ban books he doesn't agree with, but to write a competing book to be placed in the school library that depicts how terrible life is in Cuba under the Communist regime. Let the Miami-Dade School Board fill the library shelves with anti-Castro books if they want to. If they really care about the First Amendment and freedom, that is what they would be doing instead of wasting taxpayer dollars trying to defend their indefensible book banning.