Most civilized societies have agreed that banning books is one sure sign that a culture is circling the drain, yet some people can’t get enough of that extreme brand of censorship. Last month, for instance, Washington’s Mukilteo School District removed To Kill a Mockingbird from its ninth grade reading list and a Tennessee school board declared Maus forbidden. The good news is that most Americans think that’s stupid.
A poll conducted in mid-February by CBS News and YouGov found that 83 percent of Americans believe no book should be banned for criticizing U.S. history, and 85 percent said no book should be banned for presenting political ideas they don’t agree with. A healthy 87 percent of Americans surveyed believe no book should be outlawed for discussing race and slavery.
The anti-ban sentiment is strong on both sides of the aisle. According to the poll data, 85 percent of conservatives say no book should ever be banned for depicting slavery, with 88 percent of Republicans and 88 percent of Trump voters agreeing.
More specific questions indicate a divide. While 77 percent of Democrats say that teaching about race makes students “understand what others have been through,” just 57 percent of Republicans felt that way. With independents, 69 percent agreed.
There is also a stark racial split on the issue of racism in America. Asked how big a problem it is today, 81 percent of Black respondents said it is a major problem, compared to 52 percent of white people surveyed. Four percent of Blacks said it’s not a problem at all, and 16 percent of whites agreed.
The biggest differences are on the subject of Critical Race Theory.
Republicans are against it by a margin of 86 percent, compared to just 19 percent of Democrats. Of course, opinions differ on whether CRT is a legal theory taught only to advanced law students, or an insidious attempt to mess with the minds of grade school children—and those opinions vary widely.
But it’s also clear from the poll that the media is much more interested in CRT than the nation itself. Fifty percent of conservatives told the pollsters that they had heard “a lot” about it, while 39 percent of liberals had, and moderates were the luckiest of all at just 24 percent.
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