- by theguardian
- 29 Mar 2023
A recent school board meeting at which about 1,000 people gathered in Dearborn, Michigan, to pressure district officials to censor books with LGBTQ+ themes was in most ways similar to hundreds of other recent book ban hearings across the US.
But the speakers were not the white, rightwing conservative Christians usually behind efforts to censor literature in public schools. Instead, the heated audience was almost all Muslim Arab Americans.
Although the right wing in America has frequently vilified Muslims and Islam, the alliance highlights how some deeply socially conservative Arab Americans are willing to put that aside and join in the culture wars. Several parents who spoke with the Guardian insisted the effort had nothing to do with politics and did not answer questions about why they would campaign alongside Donald Trump supporters.
Book ban campaigns have proliferated across the US in part because they reliably stoke conservatives anger toward liberals. A recent American Library Association (ALA) report documented about 1,650 challenges to books made this year through September. The nine-month tally already exceeded the 2021 total.
The Dearborn hearing was called after a previous meeting on the same topic descended into chaos and was cut short by the school board. Police had to verbally disperse a crowd of largely Arab Americans angered over perceived disrespect from the board, according to reports.
Several district teachers and parents charged that the controversy was manufactured by outside political forces seeking to sow divisions.
The elected officials ignited a controversy when they called for a pride flag raised on a city-owned pole to be taken down. Meanwhile, a gay Muslim teacher in the city is taking legal action against a charter school for allegedly firing him because of his sexuality.
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