Letters to the Editor: What’s behind the right-wing war on librarians? Not books

Books are displayed at the Patmos Library in Jamestown, Mich., on Aug. 11.
Books are displayed at the Patmos Library in Jamestown, Mich., on Aug. 11.
(Joshua Lott / Washington Post via Getty Images)

To the editor: I have a question for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has been at the forefront of the right-wing culture war against schools and libraries.

Have you met Martha Hickson, who was mentioned in The Times’ recent piece on librarians? In case she is under your radar, Hickson is a high school librarian in New Jersey who has come under attack. Where she lives and works, individuals demanded that the libraries be cleansed of books, and hence ideas, that don’t meet their definition of safe thinking.

She was quoted as saying, “These people wanting to ban books have a whole political machinery around them, and are using books as proxies to attack people.”


Hickson is a person with a clear manner of identifying the true reason for such loud intransigence. She is a “soldier” of a nation that was founded on ideas — ideas such as all people are created equal, and they have the right to express those ideas without politicians twisting the mechanics of democracy to further their own careers.

You could learn something.

Andy Siegel, Santa Barbara


To the editor: What a contrast — in one article, we read of efforts to control free speech and thought in American libraries, and in another we read of France’s efforts to fight racism and build tolerance.

Ours is a very backward country in many ways, and this is one of them.

My mother, as the only woman at the time on the Yucaipa school board, endured similar harassment in 1990 because she supported keeping an English book series that had stories about witches.

This is not about the books. It’s about political control to advance an agenda that disenfranchises people and keeps the white Republican male in power.

Sandy Mishodek, Running Springs, Calif.


To the editor: Librarians are professionals trained to build book collections that meet the needs of their communities, not succumb to the fears of political groups.

I doubt that conservative groups are merely looking out for children. But if they are, I’m sure they wouldn’t mind forming a book advisory committee with progressive Democrats, atheist groups and maybe a delegation from the Church of Satan to make sure children are not harmed by library collections that are too broad or too restrictive.

Personally, I think political groups have no role in libraries other than to offer support. Leave collections to the librarians.

Peter Farquhar, Los Angeles


To the editor: I was in the seventh grade when I moved to Gary, Ind., in the 1960s. I was glad to find a library within walking distance of my two-bedroom-for-seven-people apartment. It was the only free entertainment I had.

I loved having a quiet place where I could check out teen novels and read newspapers and magazines sent from faraway cities, making plans to visit when I grew up. The teen novels taught me what was normal for my age, and I did visit Paris, New York and Ireland later.

Why oh why do some politicians want make this free entertainment less accessible to poor kids? Can it be that these politicians want poor people to be stupid?

Cheryl Clark-O’Brien, Long Beach