The New York Times and 'Book Banning'

In the classic film Sunset Boulevard, you couldn't help but sympathize with Norma Desmond. She made nostalgia, senility and decrepitude slightly pitiable, but also charming.

The New York Times, its stock value in the cellar while squirming under the thumb of a foreign robber baron, makes the same thing shabby, malodorous and pathetic.

Most of America, for instance, applauds "parental involvement" in their children's education. But a recent New York Times editorial decries it. "Banning Books in Miami," blares their editorial headline from February 10th. "The Miami-Dade School Board's decision is not only unconstitutional, it is counterproductive. If the ( local school) board wants to oppose the totalitarianism of the Castro regime, banning books is an odd way to go about it."

The New York Times definition of "book banning" has an excruciatingly selective application. To wit: back in 2006 a children's' books titled Let's Go to Cuba that depicts Stalinist Cuba as a combination Emerald City and Willi Wonka's Chocolate Factory was stocked in Miami-Dade public school libraries. Some American parents of Cuban heritage in Miami, many of them former Castro political prisoners with the scars to prove it, saw that these books were crammed with the usual academic lies about Cuba, but in BigBird-speak for 9-year-olds. So they filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade school board who voted to remove the books.

"Miami-Dade School Board Bans Cuba Book!" thundered a New York Times headline of the time. The ACLU also claimed to be scandalized and filed suit to retain the book.

Last week a federal appeals panel in Atlanta ruled that the Miami-Dade School Board has 'the right to apply accuracy as a criteria for educational purposes."The appeals court noted that the book indeed "contained factual errors that distorts what life is like in that dictatorship." So the book "ban" stands, as have hundreds of others over the years from sea to shining sea.

Before wailing about "Book Banning!"any New York Times "reporter" could have picked up the phone, dialed the American Library Association and discovered, for instance, that between 1990 and 2000, more than 6,000 protests were lodged against school books in public school libraries by American parents. For every protest actually recorded, they estimate that four or five go unreported. Indeed, a Supreme Court ruling in 1982. by none other than William Brennan, wrote that local school boards had "broad discretion in the management of school affairs," adding that if they removed a book based on it's "educational suitability" such actions "would not be unconstitutional."

According to the American Library Association, over the past two decades, every single year sees between 400 and 600 such schoolbook protests in the U.S., much of it over material considered "racially insensitive" as when The Adventure's of Huckleberry Finn were yanked from an Illinois school. The Tales of uncle Remus and Little Black Sambo also bit the dust long ago.

In brief, attempted "book bannings'" identical to the one in Miami-Dade, (but involving no disrespect for Fidel Castro or Che Guevara) have occurred at a rate of over one a day for past two and half decades from sea to shining sea. In most of these the ACLU and New York Times have been conspicuously mum.

But ah! Just let those insufferable right-wing Cuban-Americans try it! Just let them attempt to besmirch the Left's premier pin-up boys! Then the ACLU promptly blasts its bugles, their media cronies affect grave frowns, and cries of "censorship!" and "book- banning!" flood the airwaves and headlines. "

Heaven knows Castro and Che get enough free publicity and soft-soaping from the worldwide Media /Academia axis as it is. Some Miami-Dade taxpayers have simply balked at subsidizing any more of this malignant idiocy, as millions of taxpayers throughout the U.S. for decades have balked at subsidizing everything from Heather has Two Mommies to Huckleberry Finn to Catcher in the Rye to Harry Potter -- without a peep from the ACLU and the New York Times -- unless it was an accolade.

Lest anyone forget, school boards are elected by their communities. They have no power to "ban" or "censor" anything on the national--or even a regional-- stage, screen or print. That same asinine book "banned" at the urging of Cuban-American parents can be stacked in the windows of a book store next door to the school library. Indeed dozens of books twenty times as asinine, from Che Guevara's "Guerrilla War; A Method" (from someone who never fought in a guerrilla war) to Fidel Castro's own "History Will Absolve Me" (from modern history's most shameless liar), already blanket the literary landscape and overwhelmingly influence America's and most of the world's academic and media depictions of Cuba, hence their almost uniform absurdity.

Many Miami parents' have scars on their bodies and pictures of murdered loved ones that refute the idiocies taught to their children in the schools they themselves pay for. But let them attempt the same parental involvement and constitutional approach of millions of their countrymen and the New York Times promptly pounces upon them as vile and tacky "censors!" and "book banners!", while all the other parents' objections amount to spreading "tolerance" and "sensitivity" and "upholding community values." This verbal discrepancy might be best explained by George Orwell who coined the term "Newspeak."

Apparently, Cuban-Americans have a better appreciation of their adopted founding fathers, than does the eminent staff of the New York Times. "To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.'' (Thomas Jefferson)`

In a way, the New York Times mimics Nora Desmond, they ache for their former days of glory-the days when every imbecility on Fidel Castro printed in the New York Times established the beltway talking points:

"Fidel Castro has strong ideas of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the Constitution....but it amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic and therefore anti-Communist." (Herbert Matthews, New York Times Feb. 1957.)

"This is not a Communist Revolution in any sense of the term. Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he is decidedly anti-Communist." (Herbert Matthews, New York Times, July 1959)

"It would be a great mistake even to intimate that Castro's Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite." (Walter Lippmann , Washington Post July, 1959)

"Fidel Castro is a good young man trying to do what's best for Cuba. We should extend him a hand." (retired president Harry Truman July, 1959)

"That's a cute Puppy, Fidelito! When will you visit us again? And will that be with the beard or without the beard?" (Edward Murrow, CBS Feb. 1959).

Every night during 1959, scores of Cuban patriots crumpled to firing squads while Fidel, Raul and Che repaired to their respective stolen mansions and met with Soviet GRU agents to button down the complete communization of Cuba. Many Cuban refugees banged desperately on U.S. newsroom and State dept. doors trying to get this point across. Alas, at the time, this detail did not qualify as among "all the news that's fit to print."

Humberto Fontova is the author of four books including Exposing the Real Che Guevara. Visit
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