Op-Ed: Clinging to old classics can go hand in hand with banning books
The United States has never had much luck with freedom of expression, at least when it comes to books. Here is a list of examples.
At the same time, American readers continue to buy thousands of copies of the books that were once banned in the country. If you have some time, you might want to check them out. Here’s a list of books most Americans are still buying, despite decades of being banned:
A Nation of Sheep
In America, it’s legal for you to own a book, read the book, and share the book with another person without consequences or limits. In Germany, you may even be arrested for doing just that. For more than a decade since its publication in 1864, it’s been illegal in the United States for a German-American to publish, distribute or sell a book that is part of an offensive against any ethnic group in Germany. If you want to read the book, you have to have one of these: a United States visa, a student visa, or a green card. Otherwise, the United States considers you part of a “foreign” ethnic group and bans you from ever going to Germany.
The Civil War
When reading the Civil War, which was a great American book, you get to admire, and then to feel guilty. You can learn from the books you just read, because one of the ways the Civil War affected Americans, the way it shaped them as Americans, was that it gave them a new way of thinking, for the first time. (We can learn a lot from the way the Civil War shaped Americans’ thinking about race, about slavery, about suffrage and women’s rights and the like.)
Even though the Civil War was one of the most important books in the history of American literature, and I’m sure one of the most important books in the history of American history, it’s not a book you should be inking up, or passing around at a picnic. It’s not a book you put on your shelf and keep close to you. It’s not a book you’d allow your children to leaf through at a book-related party. The Civil War is banned because