“Are you going to put them on the street? Set them on fire? Where are they going? Clemmons asked.
“I have no idea, but I would burn them”, Sexton answered.
“That’s what I thought,” Clemmons said.
Book burning is emblematic of authoritarian regimes, and was carried out in particular in Nazi Germany. One of the most high-profile examples in history occurred on May 10, 1933, when students at German universities set fire to more than 25,000 books deemed “un-German.” according to the US Holocaust Museum. The action came after some 40,000 people gathered to hear Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Party’s chief propagandist, deliver a speech declaring “No to Moral Decadence and Corruption,” according to the museum. .
Under the Tennessee House bill, librarians will be required to submit a list of book titles in their collections to a state commission for approval. The Tennessee State Senate passed a different version of the bill. After the differences between the two are resolved, he will address the governor of Tennessee. Bill Lee (R) to become law.
At the White House on Wednesday at an event honoring teachers, President Biden denounced politically motivated efforts targeting books that he says make teaching even more difficult.
“There are too many politicians trying to score political points by trying to ban books, even math books,” he said, referring to recent Florida moves. “Did you ever think when you’d be teaching that you’d be worried about book burnings and book bans because it doesn’t fit into someone’s political agenda?”
According to Fox 17 Nashville, Sexton has defended the move saying that currently, “there’s no clear direction…on how these books are coming through.”
The bill, according to Sexton, would also allow parents to mark books on librarians’ “don’t like” lists, allowing them to “appeal” to authorities about the book’s future on the shelves.
Democrats and educational organizations have fought the measure. In a statement Tuesday, the Tennessee School Librarians Association called it “gross government overreach” and not in the best interest of the state’s students.
History has not looked kindly on those who banned the books or those who burned them. I’m not sure that’s who we want to be included with,” the state representative said. Gloria Johnson (D) saying.
After the Tennessee House of Representatives voted to pass the bill, Clemmons said he was “speechless.”
“Here’s the Final Vote on the GOP’s ‘Book Burning Bill,'” Clemmons tweeted. “I can refer to the bill by this name, because the floor sponsor of the bill literally said that he would burn the books removed from the shelves. And he said it in #TENNESSEE floor of the house.”
The Tennessee bill comes amid a “historic effort” by conservative groups across the country to ban books and educational materials they deem objectionable, often publications that address racism, gender, politics and sexual identity. , according to the American Library Association’s annual report on book censorship
“These groups sought to remove books from public and school library shelves that share the stories of queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of color, immigrants, and refugees,” the ALA said in its report. “But we know that banning books will not make these realities and lived experiences go away, nor will it erase our nation’s struggles to achieve true equity, diversity and inclusion.”
The ALA said it had tracked 729 attempts to remove materials from libraries, schools and universities in 2021, leading to 1,597 book challenges or removals, the highest number recorded since the association began tracking the phenomenon 20 years ago.
Hannah Natanson contributed to this report.