Four and a half score years ago, on May 10 students in Berlin and throughout Germany displayed their patriotism to the world by purging their libraries of subversive and degenerative ideas. The summer night glowed with works by Einstein, Freud and Kafka as the flames purified the nation. These authors, but not all, were spared the conflagration of Nazi Germany.

Llano County, Texas in 2023 is generations and over 12 hours away as the bird flies from that time and place. The only fires there are fajitas BBQing at Buchanan. Yet, County Commissioners considered closing their libraries rather than adding certain books to their catalog.

In all fairness, Llano County isn’t alone. An exhaustive, historical listing of censorship, book burnings and other repressive measures against free speech would produce a tome, which would include the burning of:

Democritus’ writings by Plato (Greece, 4th Century, BCE); Buddhist scriptures by Muslims (monks beheaded (Maldives, 12th Century); Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible by the Catholic Church (Wycliffe excommunicated – postmortem, corps burned (1384)); Tyndale’s translation of the Bible by Catholic Church (Tyndale strangled, then burned (1536)); Maya codices by the Spanish (1562); The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption banned for criticizing Puritans (first book burned in colonial America (1651)); Braille books by Parisian school for blind (1842); Jewish text by Greeks, Christians, Muslims (passim); Comic books (1948); Harry Potter (2006) … Oy vey!

Even the Valley had a stab at censorship. In 1994 radio shock-jock Howard Stern’s Private Parts was a best seller and available at… the Weslaco Public Library. Then not.  

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye. Weslaco Mayor Buddy de la Rosa and City Attorney Ramon Vela are brought before the Honorable Phil Donahue, Howard Stern and a live studio audience for their auto da fe. De la Rosa and Vela were pilloried for restricting the fundamental American right of free speech and for firing the diminutive career librarian, Ms. Pam Antonelli. Burn.

Today Texans know better. They ain’t buying snake oil as the nostrum to cure subversive view or otherwise woke ideas. No. Good ole censorship will do just fine. Censorship will protect Texans from learning that while conquering the world Alexander the Great had a relationship with ———–.  Freud’s pioneering theories on psychoanalysis, though promoting mental health, are sexualized and wrong. A cigar is —- – —–.  Nothing more. One Bugs Bunny does not dress as a —- —–.  Never.

Silly? Before we judge, let’s acknowledge our humanity, good and bad. Like Tucker Carlson, we instinctively fear the dark, the unknow, the foreign. Yet, we are repulsed by an unjust match between three men against one “Antifa kid.” Yet again, we can embrace the retributive justice against our enemies, a lust for vengeance: “… hit him harder, kill him.” In the end Tucker found his humanity, knowing someone loved that kid.

Eighty-seven years after America was founded it was violently searching for its soul at Gettysburg. Lincoln honored the dead by asking the living to rededicate themselves to the unfinished work … a new birth of freedom for a nation of, for and by the people. Now 90 years after the German book burning and eight score since Gettysburg, America again is searching. Will Lincoln’s America perish from the earth? Let’s avoid the flames and find our humanity.

Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Leonardo Olivares, JD MPA, an attorney, writer, and city government consultant living in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The column appears in The Rio Grande Guardian International News Service with the permission of the author. Olivares can be reached by email via: [email protected].

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