Where Dan Rodricks can find fascism and censorship in Carroll County
Dan Rodricks, a Baltimore Sun columnist who’s won journalism awards for reporting on social injustice, thinks Carroll County is a fascist Trump county guilty of MAGA censorship.
He said so on Twitter last week, when after sharing an article by the Carroll County Times describing how local moms asked Carroll County Public Schools to remove 39 books from school libraries because they depict graphic sex or rape, he reacted bemoaning how “The fascists are everywhere” as he labeled Carroll “#TrumpCounty”.
He tweeted again, tagging “#censorship” & “#MAGA” while naming three of the books now pending removal in the county, one being the 1999 novel The Perks Of Being A Wallflower which includes a smattering of fucks & pussies in its prose, & another being Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, which makes mention of a woman attempting intercourse with a pony.
But what Rodricks bemoans as MAGA censorship & Trump fascism in Carroll County is really just good education & functional democracy – both things liberals like him purport to hold sacred.
Consider the censorship accusation, which when paired with calling one a fascist conjures up images of Nazi book-banners standing over heaps of flaming texts saluting. To ban a book in the fascist tradition is not just to curate a text out of public school libraries, but to erase it from the whole of society by threat of state sponsored violence, ensuring publishers never print the text, wholesalers are barred from distributing it, retailers are disallowed from selling it, & consumers are forbidden from reading it.
If The Perks Of Being A Wallflower were to be removed from school libraries tomorrow, obviously, on the next day Penguin Random House could still distribute it, Rudolph Girls Bookstore in Westminster could sell it if they chose, & consumers from Sykesville to Lineboro would remain free to get lost in its pages to their heart’s content.
Of course there is no fascist book-banning in Carroll County. There is arguably no censorship in the legal sense either. In 1975 a Long Island New York school board removed books including the aforementioned Slaughterhouse-Five & Langston Hughes’s Best Short Stories By Negro Writers from school libraries because they considered those texts & others "anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Semitic, and just plain filthy”.
A group of teenage students took issue with the removals & sued the school board for limiting what they said was their right to receive information. Adjudicating the case years later, the Supreme Court determined that, though school boards are unable to remove books simply because they dislike the ideas in them, they remain within their right to remove books that are psychologically age-inappropriate or otherwise especially vulgar (Island Trees v. Pico).
And that is precisely the case the tax-paying local moms are making to Carroll County’s duly elected Board of Education in full view of everyone through public comment, that the books they want removed are age-inappropriate & vulgar because they depict graphic sex & rape.
That an old white man who’s spent decades inside a privileged local institution would hurl insults at thirty & forty something year old moms in the thick of child rearing for participating in the local democratic process on behalf of their children & their community is what some progressive liberals would consider to be the height of patriarchy & mansplaining.
If it is something resembling fascism in Carroll County that Rodricks is after, where an autocratic ruler imposes an extremist cultural agenda onto unreceptive local communities, let his attention turn towards former President Barack Obama, whose Departments of Justice & Education radically re-interpreted sex under Title IX to include gender identity, which once laundered through federal courts to establish case precedent, practically means that boys are allowed in girls bathrooms & vice-versa in Carroll County & beyond.
No one ever voted for that dramatic change. Elected officials never debated it. There was no public comment period for parents to make their voice heard on it. It just materialized out of the bureaucracy one day.
Maybe there really is fascism & censorship in Carroll County. But certainly not where Rodricks sees it.