To Fight The Good Fight The Battle — страница 8

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overtones” in the books. . . . It seems to me the politics of extremism is the motivation for their opposition to the [books]. . . . When persons are in positions of responsibility, when they have, as Mr. Marcheschi stated, the right to censor books, certainly the educators and the parents have the right to know the orientation from which the censors are operating.The official then proceeded to point out the reason for the ban. Had the anthologies contained stories by Billy Graham, Robert Welch, Gary Allen and the Chicago Tribune, warning of “an international communist conspiracy” instead of stories by Jack London, Ray Bradbury, and LeRoi Jones, who were known to sympathize with the political left, they would not have to been questioned. The official also pointed out that,

“It has been alleged that a high administrator who opposed the books did so because he felt that Joan Baez was a communist.” He closed his statement to the board by demanding,It seems to me it would serve this district well if Dr. Vetterli, Dr. Myers, [and] Mr. Newton. . .would individually respond to this question: . . . Are you now or have you ever been a member or affiliated in any way with the John Birch Society? . . . I will resist the temptation to conclude, as Senator Joseph McCarthy would have, that a refusal to respond indicates guilt.37Aside from the local unions’ attempt to gas-light the board, the statement clearly shows that those considering themselves progressives felt that they were in the middle of a local “red scare” and that the board members were

trying to purge the schools of anything that was not in accordance with their political beliefs.That they weren’t too far off the mark became clear by mid February when high school senior, Wanda Knox, requested that the board remove William Faulkner’s Light in August because it was “demeaning and racist in its references to Negroes.” 38 She circulated a petition at a local high school because she was disturbed by the fact that the book list in the high schools had very few, if any, minority authors on it. Ultimately, the board rejected her request. By April they called for an investigation of Knox in order to flush out the subversive teachers who had given her the idea to challenge the school board. Upon being informed of this investigation, she demanded that the board

justify their actions:I was shown a memo from Mr. Marcheschi requesting an investigation of the “Light in August” matter. The memo went on to say, the board had been “had” by Miss Knox and others involved in this affair. To my knowledge, an investigation was not requested of the people who wanted “Voices of Man” reconsidered. . . Why must my integrity and intelligence be questioned?The board asked Knox, “Did you write your own speech or did your teacher. . .write it for you?” At this she responded, “To tell you honestly, when I heard this I had to lay my Black kinky head on the table and get a good loud chuckle at pure, unadulterated ignorance.” Having been an honors student and having taken advanced placement English courses throughout her high school career

in Pasadena, she found it absurd that the board would even suggest that she should not be able to write a speech. 39 However, the board’s reaction is not surprising considering the fact that they felt that Pasadena schools were at a crisis point and that progressive educational theories had destroyed the minds of Pasadena’s youth. The board’s contempt for individuals who challenged their authority or their political beliefs is clearly seen by the investigation of Wanda Knox. As she pointed out, individuals calling for the banning of The Voices of Man series were neither questioned nor investigated by the board members.Later in the board’s tenure, the local press discovered that an example of “appropriate” reading material was a textbook published by the John Birch

Society entitled Quest for a Hemisphere. 40 This fact alone helped to confirm the dread of many educators in Pasadena that the board was dominated, if not by members of the John Birch Society, at least by individuals who sympathized with its extremist political ideology. Over the next three years the board limited the reading material available to the students by banning increasing numbers of books. By October of 1975 they had implemented a new policy which forced teachers to submit “justification papers” for any materials they wanted to use in the classroom, including any standing orders they may have had. If the board decided to question the teachers they could effectively delay the purchasing of books. In cleansing the curriculum of any “undesirable” material, the