ACLU: Miami can’t pull pro-Cuba books

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Your June 22 article, “ACLU: Miami can’t pull pro-Cuba books,” addresses the challenge of censorship faced by public school and local libraries, as well as the difficulties involved in beginning a balanced and open discourse about the current state of U.S.-Cuban relations. The Miami-Dade County school district’s entirely politicized and hardly democratic efforts to remove books such as “Vamos a Cuba” from school libraries, exemplifies the recent tendency to eradicate children’s exposure to “controversial” subject matter.

The Miami-Dade school board has deemed the book “inappropriate for young readers,” citing “inaccuracies and omissions about life in the communist nation” as justification for pulling copies of the book from school libraries. Rather than shield children from opposing viewpoints, teachers should point out the propagandistic elements in the text to students—or perhaps present an alternative book which encompasses opposing viewpoints—instead of stamping out any opportunity for students to critically analyze life in Cuba. Miami-Dade students—many of whom are the offspring of Cuban ex-patriots or relatives of exiles—have access to a wide-range of texts, and have the freedom to openly express their opinions, unlike many of the Cuban children in “Vamos a Cuba.” Schoolteachers and critics of the book should explain to students that thanks to the rights granted under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, every person in the United States can express his or her own views, emphasizing that not everyone throughout the world has such privileges.

One parent who was a political prisoner in Cuba and “complained about the books’ depiction of life under communist rule,” should realize that his call for the removal of the book from the school libraries exemplifies the sort of authoritarian action from which he surely fled; it would better serve the Cuban émigré to attend one of his child’s classes and explain to his son or daughter’s classmates what political persecution entails. One would think that a person who was persecuted for his political affiliation and beliefs, and who sought refuge in the United States, would value the political freedoms, particularly the freedom of speech, which Americans readily exercise.