icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Michelle's Musings

Don't Repeat the Past

Censorship, book banning, and "cancel culture" all tie into our First Amendment right to free speech, a critical component of our fragile democracy. I have great admiration for the saying, "We can agree to disagree," which is why I find the removal of books that speak to the truth of this country's founding quite disturbing. I don't know of anyone who feels good about the shameful aspects of our history; but if we choose to ignore it, we're doomed to repeat it, as many great minds have portended. This last sentiment contributes to the impetus, in my humble opinion, to ensure the Holocaust is not forgotten.


I recently read a gripping memoir written by a good friend's father, a 94-year-old Holocaust survivor. In his book titled The Life of a Child Survivor, Ben Midler poignantly laid out the atrocities he witnessed as a young teen. Midler took me on a harrowing journey, starting with the Nazi bombings and invasion of his home town in Poland to his long overdue rescue and liberation, all while continuously searching for members of his family. He provided keen insight into the political and societal aspects of how such depravity could ever take place and is acutely aware that the current generation of youths is far removed in their familiarity with this history.


Leading up to last week's mid-term elections, many decried the frightening possibility of the loss of our democracy to fascism and autocratic rule. The re-engineering of voter districts primarily to the disadvantage of marginalized communities (gerrymandering) made it more difficult for those voters to participate in a free and fair election. However, this self-serving scheme led to record voter turnout even in the face of rising inflation, extremist tribalism, and growing political violence. Our voices would have been extinguished and the outcome of the elections likely predetermined if we lived under autocratic rule. But the American people spoke up once again for democracy.


When I first wrote this blog to be posted after the elections, I wasn't sure we'd still have a democratic government. However, it seems the American people remain vested in its survival. If we don't fight for democracy, our Great American Experiment will fail. And that fight necessitates an understanding of the principles on which our Nation was founded—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Be the first to comment

Happily Ever After?

In 1933 under Nazi Germany, an infamous public book burning took place as a radical display of censorship and intolerance. Blacklisted works by literary and political figures, including Ernest Hemingway, were targeted for the flames. After the destruction of these books, the Nazi regime raided libraries, bookstores, and publishers' warehouses to destroy other works it deemed un-German (cited from Holocaust Encyclopedia, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum).


Because the veracity of science is increasingly questioned these days, preservation of truth and science-based facts remains paramount. As disinformation spreads falsehoods in alarming and detrimental fashion, we must remain vigilant and discerning of what we consume from social and television media. We must be wary of those who would stifle our attempts to impart knowledge that discounts such disinformation.


In fiction writing, it's rather ordinary to make stuff up. Fantasy and magical realism are popular among readers, and some writers claim both fiction and non-fiction as their genres. Surrealism may be juxtaposed or conflated with realism. In the end, no matter your genre, protagonist, or writing style, the goal is to impart information to a receptive audience.


Thankfully, we still retain the protection of our First Amendment right. However, some political leaders have made attempts to squelch that right when it comes to accurate representation of historical facts that are sometimes unpleasant at best. For example, they'd rather we not know the truly treacherous nature of the enslavement of African Americans.


Suppression of knowledge by elected officials is antithetical to our Constitution's First Amendment. Surely, none of us wants to revisit an era where free thought and expression of ideas is inappropriately suppressed for any reason, let alone political ones. Going down that rabbit hole is not likely to generate an ending wherein all parties live "happily ever after."