[freedomtowernight_edited.jpg] 26th Parallel: Vamos a Cuba Banned (UPDATED)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Vamos a Cuba Banned (UPDATED)

The Miami-Dade County School Board voted 6-3 to ban the controversial book Vamos a Cuba, as well as the other 23 in the series which includes descriptions of life in other countries.

As this Miami Herald article points out, lawsuits by the ACLU are already being planned.

I have a very uneasy feeling about this. As I've alluded to in the past few days, I have mixed feelings about this issue. Now, the ACLU and the School Board are getting into a big stink over this, and the focus will be on the battle between the two entities, instead on where it should be which is of course what our children are exposed to in our schools.

For all their good intentions, Juan Amador Rodriguez and the others who fought for the ban will now have another fight on their hands, this one with high-powered lawyers against them. I wonder if a middle ground could have been reached here.

I know, we need to stand by our principles. But sometimes, we have to pick our battles, and pick them wisely. The book was definitely worth discussing, but was a total ban necessary in order to drive the point home? I don't know, but I have some doubts.

Before I finish blogging this topic once and for all, I would like to point out one exchange in the meeting yesterday between Board members which really pissed me off.

Board member Robert Ingram voted for the ban, but only to invite the ACLU's lawsuit so the issue could be resolved by the courts, he said. In an impassioned speech, he said threats from the exile community left him thinking board members ''might find a bomb under their automobiles'' if they voted to keep the book.

''There's a passion of hate,'' Ingram said. ``I can't vote my conscience without feeling threatened -- that should never happen in this community any more.''

Perez promptly called those comments ''inappropriate and offensive,'' and Ingram later explained himself further.

''That's just the nature of Miami-Dade County,'' Ingram said. ``If you were offended, come see me, work with me.''

Needless to say, Robert Ingram is a spineless idiot for making those comments. First, he accuses the exile community of threatening to commit terrorist acts. Then, after appropriately challenged by another board member, he backpedals and makes a weak and lame statement basically stating that it's "business as usual" in Miami-Dade County. Based on Ingram's irresponsible comments, we can expect the 3 board members that voted against the ban to have bombs planted in their homes or under their cars at any moment.

It's just unbelievable that someone would go as far as saying something like that about ANY part of our community. Could you imagine the stink if a Cuban-American board member made a remark that they were afraid of Overtown and Liberty City being destroyed by riots if they made a decision that went against the feelings of the black community? I would be similarly upset.

Mr. Ingram, with all due respect, you're a total and complete moron. If I lived in your district, I would make 100% sure to vote your ass out of office. Don't pretend to speak or categorize the entire county and its citizens when you were voted to represent them.

UPDATED 11:04 AM - Conductor shares his views over at Cuban American Pundits.


Blogger Michael Caputo said...

July 8, 2006

By Frank Bolanos

Mr. Frank Bolanos is a member of the Miami-Dade School Board

If the Newark, New Jersey school board decided to issue "Little Black Sambo" as a third grade reader, how would that largely African-American community react?

Famed progressive educator Carl L. Marburger posed this question in 1974, when he said controversial schoolbooks in rural West Virginia showed the public school system's "astonishing insensitivity to local cultural values."

Those aggrieved local folks endured the insults, catcalls and jeers of the liberal elite until Marburger, a self-described liberal's liberal, spoke up and gave them pause. Today, the Miami-Dade school board and I are being accused of censorship for our efforts to remove from school libraries "Vamos a Cuba," a children's book that paints a false and distorted portrait of life in communist Cuba.

If the teachers' unions, Herald columnists, the ACLU and Fidel Castro himself are to be believed, the Miami-Dade school board is pillaging school libraries, burning books, oppressing the intellectual freedom of helpless children, and stomping on the First Amendment.

None of this is true; this is not a First Amendment issue. Censorship occurs when government refuses to allow people to purchase material, not when it refuses to provide that material at no charge.

Just as the First Amendment grants basic freedoms to those espousing even the most repugnant of views, I support Alta Schreier's right to author and publish "Vamos a Cuba." I defend the right of any Miami bookstore to sell it and I defend the right of any American to read it. Indeed, let the author promote and sell her book and compete in the marketplace of ideas.

But taxpayers must not be forced to subsidize falsehoods, propaganda or insulting imagery. As Thomas Jefferson, wrote, "to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

Simply put, Jefferson, a framer of the Constitution our critics cite, would see no reason for our schools to spend sparse taxpayer money to promote the circulation of misinformation and lies many in our community equate to oppression and the loss of liberty and life.

If our public schools provided "Little Black Sambo" to African-America children, I would stand with their parents as this would be offensive, racist and an inappropriate use of tax dollars. If our public schools put the grotesquely anti-Semitic children's book "The Poisonous Mushroom" into libraries, I would stand with Jewish parents to oppose this abhorrent act and misappropriation of public funds. The struggle against Cuban communism is no less important.

In 1995, the Miami Herald was forced to trash an entire section after an offensive cartoon of Martin Luther King, Jr. was mistakenly printed inside. Over the nationally syndicated cartoonist's objections, editors made the bold decision to pull a half million copies of the magazine.

They did it by hand; it took two full days. It was hard and expensive work to correct a mistake that took only moments to make. Similarly, a foolish decision by an entrenched bureaucracy had to be corrected and has cost our school district valuable time, money and focus.

After the mess, the Herald's executive editor at the time wrote that the newspaper's First Amendment obligation is "to present the broadest range of perspectives and opinions in its news and opinion pages. But a newspaper also has an obligation to protect its readers from the outrageously offensive or the egregiously insensitive."

If such an obligation exists at a privately funded newspaper, certainly Miami's public officials have a responsibility to assure taxpayers aren't forced to subsidize racism, anti-Semitism or communism with public dollars.

Likewise, taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for entrenched and misguided bureaucrats who want to whitewash the horrors of life under Fidel Castro and his brutal regime.


11:30 PM, July 07, 2006  

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