May 12, 2023
The Library as a Cultural Battlefield
We didn’t start this fight, but we can’t run from it
By: Brian Almon
Why are libraries a battlefield in the culture war? Why did moderate Republicans like Julie Yamamoto, Lori McCann, and Greg Lanting join forces with far left Democrats like Ilana Rubel and Colin Nash to oppose a bill that simply said that libraries and schools must be held to the same standard as convenience stores with regards to allowing children access to obscene materials? Why did Governor Little veto that bill? Why did a group of concerned parents file a petition to disband the Meridian Library District, and why was opposition so fierce?
I see two major factions on the field. On the left you have those who very much want children to be exposed to graphic materials. They are fully committed to queer theory which says that what we call childhood innocence is really cisheteronormative oppression, and that children need exposure to graphic LGBTQ+ materials to awaken their latent queerness.
These people are insane, and we must protect our children from them at all costs. That makes us the right side of this battlefield.
In the middle are normal people who would never support giving pornography to children, but are swayed by arguments based on tolerance, compassion, and diversity. They escape the cognitive dissonance of their position by pretending there is nothing objectionable in our libraries, and that anyone saying otherwise is a rabble-rouser, probably a California transplant, who is exaggerating a nonissue for political power.
We saw this cognitive dissonance on display when Rep. Julie Yamamoto, chairman of the House Education Committee, argued on the floor that H314 was a bad bill because children don’t really have access to obscene materials, but then disallowing citizens from reading materials in her committee hearing because there were underage pages in the room. She tried to argue that the bill was about criminalizing The Chronicles of Narnia rather than keeping kids from Gender Queer.
A lot of people are like Rep. Yamamoto. They know in their hearts that something is wrong, but they are too afraid of what the newspapers will say about them if they speak up. They want to pretend that it is still 1993, that the public square is still a safe and neutral place, and that this controversy over libraries is a tempest in a teapot. They find it easier to mock and condemn concerned parents and conservatives than take a serious look at what is happening before their eyes.
One of the reason it is easier is because our local media has stacked the deck against them. The supposed journalists of Idaho’s corporate media are far to the left of Idaho’s citizens, and they have made it their mission to turn the state blue, one viewer at a time. Remember that KTVB’s resident vlogger Brian Holmes was aghast that I, someone who advocated for conservatives to be involved with their communities, would be appointed to Eagle’s library board.
Every night our media tells viewers that conservative values are bad while progressivism is an unabashed good. They tell you that anyone concerned about graphic materials in the library is a bigot, a white supremacist, a radical, and that all right-thinking people should disavow such things. They even mislead people – news coverage of the petition to dissolve the Meridian Library District implied that the result would have been closing the libraries themselves rather than simply replacing the board of trustees.
Thankfully there are people who are willing to endure media slander and stand up for children and for traditional values. Down in Meridian, David Tizekker and Xavier Torres are on the ballot for their library board, and they both have my full and unequivocal endorsement.
Tizekker is a family man with nine children, all homeschooled. He and his family love the library, and want it to be the safe space for children to learn and explore that it once was. He is disappointed with the way the current board has treated parents who have come to them with their concerns. “They should be responsive to citizens and reflect the standards of the community and not of the ALA,” he wrote in the Ada County Republican voter guide.
Torres is also a father with three children of his own. He told me that his goal is to “continue the good work of our Meridian library and help establish a higher community standard related to materials, programs, financials, and staffing.” Like Tizekker, Torres wants to empower parents to have a voice in what materials are made available to children.
That’s the question at the heart of all this, isn’t it? Is a public community library accountable to the activists in the American Library Association and their state affiliates, many of whom truly want to expose your children to objectionable content? Or is it accountable to the families who actually use the library? Perhaps the people of Meridian want porn in the children’s section – the proof in the pudding will be laid bare when we see the election results tonight.
Or perhaps people are still holding on to their cognitive dissonance, ignoring the tough issues and taking the path of least resistance. Just as moderates voted for Joe Biden in 2020 vainly hoping to bring back a 1990s-era normalcy, so might people vote for the media-approved candidates hoping to sweep the problem under the rug. That would be a mistake. The culture war is upon us, whether we wish it or not. The public square – including our public libraries – are not value-neutral safe spaces, but the front lines in the battle for the minds and souls of children.
Ada County friends should follow the voter guide above published by ConservativesOf. Please visit this great voter guide at the Idaho Tribune for recommendations in the other library board races throughout the state. We can no longer ignore these elected positions and simply assume that everything will turn out okay. The battle lines are already drawn, and the war will be won by showing up and making your voice heard through the ballot box. Make sure to show up today.
Note: A descendant of American pioneers, Brian writes about the importance of culture and about current events in the context of history. His work can be found on Substack, here.