The New Real-Life American Dystopia

Ryan Rose

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article are mine and mine only; they are not endorsed by Somerset Berkley Regional High School nor The Breeze as a paper. While this article does feature recent news, it also contains my own personal opinions that do not objectively have to be held by all.


While the nation remains pummeled by rampant amounts of COVID-19 cases and the economic consequences of the pandemic as a whole, conservatives in America thought it best to embark on a crusade against books and free speech. That’s right, the people for small government and personal freedom want to choose what you can and cannot learn about. Not only have these radical conservatives given themselves the right to keep largely influential books from young people, they’re also now dictating what can and cannot be talked about within the walls of a classroom, even if what’s being said is completely factual and important to understand.


The New York Times has compiled a list of incidents of books being banned across the nation. In Wyoming, charges are being considered against a public library for making accessible two books with positive LGBTQ+ messaging. A newly brought up bill in Oklahoma attempts to prevent public schools from lending out books regarding sexual activity, sexual identity, or gender identity. A county in Tennessee has removed the graphic novel Maus from the eighth grade curriculum; the graphic novel explains the holocaust to young adults in a way that is easy to understand, yet was still deemed improper to be covered in schools.  Even the classic novel To Kill A Mockingbird, a book that has long been deemed as a champion against racism, has been removed from curriculum in a school district in Washington. Lastly, and in many ways most eerily, the book The 1619 Project has been profusely criticized and deemed inappropriate for schools, even though the book only explains the true history of slavery in America. 


Apparently inspired by this dystopian-like behavior, a Texas state lawmaker has proposed a list of over 850 books (which occupies over 15 pages in small print) that he deems to be unfit from school and should be banned. The books largely focus on the LGBTQ+ community, feminism, and race. The representative explained his reasoning for doing so by saying these books “might make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex.” This pathetic excuse for justification just about sums up the reason all of these books have been banned in the first: straight white men don’t want to feel uncomfortable and certainly do not want to see the “great white men of the past” viewed as anything but unflawed heroes.


These politicians and conservative figures don’t want you to know about slavery as it paints their white ancestors in a negative light and shows the true oppressive history of the United States. They don’t want you to know about Jim Crow segregation and the Civil Rights movement as you might then see the similarities between this horrid past and the current system of mass incarceration. They don’t want you to learn to be tolerant of other sexualities and gender identities because then you wouldn’t be conforming to their religion. They don’t want you to learn about the concentration camps used in World War II because you might draw some correlations that they have with current “detention camps” used for hispanic immigrants suspected to be here illegally, something progressive politician Alexandria Ocasio Cortez has deemed as being a modern day American “concentration camp”. Put simply, these radical leaders do not want the American people to be aware of the horrific parts of American history and are not ready to leave behind the viewpoints of their intolerant ancestors. 


As if the banning of books wasn’t terrifying enough, conservatives have found new ways to control education further. Virginia’s new Republican governor, Glenn Younkin, has set up a new email hotline where constituents can report “divisive teaching practices” that may make some students feel uncomfortable. The fact of the matter is that historical facts, that Younkin deems unfit for the classroom, should make people feel uncomfortable. Americans should feel uncomfortable about the horribly gruesome institution of slavery that built America or the terrible treatment of Native Americans by the US government. These facts need to be presented to American students. Now teachers in the state are left feeling afraid to teach the true history of the United States and feel pressured to teach the filtered version promoted by these radical conservatives. We cannot expect students to rise and pledge allegiance to the flag each morning when they don’t understand the very foundations of which this country was built on. We cannot expect students to fully appreciate and understand the America of today if they don’t acknowledge the America of yesterday. 


Going further, bills HB 1557 and SB 1834 proposed in Florida, also called the “Don’t Say Gay” bills, aims to prevent any discussion of sexual or gender identity in the classroom. This yet again shows the right’s intolerance to minority groups, a recurring theme in the legislation they pass. This control over what can and cannot be said in a classroom is becoming increasingly dangerous. It should not be so that teachers in this country are fearful of what they can and cannot teach their students when the topics they are trying to cover are completely factual and are found in the real world in abundance. 


At the end of the day, the right needs to start taking their own advice, “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” The fact that slavery existed in America and built the nation we know today does not change just because some people may feel uncomfortable learning about it. The fact that people with different sexual and gender identities exist does not change just because the religion of some wants it to. These people know the true facts, but they don’t want you to know them too because if you’re knowledgeable about the true history of this country and you are becoming accepting of diversity you won’t be conforming to their ideal values of transphobia, homophobia, racism, and sexism. The best way to combat the new oppressive ideas of the American right wing is to educate yourself despite their attempts to prevent you from doing so. The only way to stay safe from this dystopian-like scenario is to remain educated.