Why is it that whenever conservatives decide to find creative ways to ensure their values are communicated, progressives always balk? When folks on the right complained about rampant politically-biased censorship practices on social media, they said, “Well, build your own platform!”
But when Parler came around, they bitched and moaned like the shrill harpies they are. In fact, they have complained about every right-leaning social media endeavor that has been created.
Now, they are taking issue with the fact that conservatives have the unmitigated gall to create children’s books to provide an alternative for parents who do not want their children reading material with a far-leftist agenda. Politico Magazine contributing editor Joanna Weiss wrote an op-ed titled “A Conservative Publisher Wants to Be the Answer to Liberal Children’s Books. There’s Just One Problem,” in which she criticized Brave Books, a right-leaning publishing company that has published children’s books written by noted conservative figures Dana Loesch, Dinesh D’Souza, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), and others.
The author writes:
Brave Books tackles conservatism issue by issue, and practically news cycle by news cycle, aided by a set of celebrity co-authors who lend their bona fides and visibility. In addition to Loesch, Dinesh D’Souza and his wife, Debbie, co-wrote a book about the dangers of socialism, featuring a fox who tries to price-fix pies. U.S. Rep. Dan Crenshaw co-wrote an allegory about cancel culture, centered on a swan who punishes animals who offend her. Lesser far-right stars have co-authored books meant to challenge abortion, transgender identity and critical race theory.
Weiss notes that the company “might represent the peak of the children’s book wars, a proxy fight over cultural values that are playing out over school library shelves and bedtime stories.”
She also acknowledges that “[t]he mainstream publishing industry, trying to make up for a decades-long lack of diversity in children’s books, has been putting out scores of new titles with main characters of color, LGBTQ themes, and sometimes, explicit lessons about racism.”
Weiss then complains that conservatives “have responded with a new wave of book banning, from efforts to strip books from libraries to laws that restrict the kinds of stories schools can share with children.”
We already know why this particular sentence is deceptive, but for those who don’t, I’ll explain why later.
Weiss makes the laughable claim that “many liberal books promote the soft politics of inclusiveness” while Brave Books publishes content that constitutes “thinly veiled political diatribes.”
The pitch might well appeal to far-right culture warriors with kids and grandkids and nieces and nephews. But whether the books will appeal to actual children seems, if not an afterthought, then at least a secondary question. The main goal isn’t to create great literature — relatable, lyrical, moving, emotionally resonant — but scoring political points. And that raises a big question about Brave Books and anyone else with designs on training young minds: Can you win the culture wars without actually caring about culture?
According to the company’s website, its founders “became more and more aware that there is a real war being waged for the hearts and minds of the next generation” and that “[t]here is an agenda to confuse and demoralize our children and make them hate their country and the values that it was founded upon.”
The founders created Brave Books to provide “an alternative to the current progressive agenda dominating children’s literature.”
Apparently, folks like Weiss aren’t too happy about this idea. She touted left-leaning books as being superior because they include “emotional expression” or something.
“Books implicitly endorsing inclusion, tolerance of LGBTQ people, and celebration of different races and cultures dovetail a bit more neatly with classic themes of wonder, curiosity and emotional expression,” she wrote.
But the big bad conservative books don’t “have a lot to do with emotion; its cartoon animals are cute(ish) but somewhat lacking in inner lives,” and “its on-the-nose political allegories feel at once too abstract and too specific for the average five-year-old to understand.”
“It’s as if the company imagined what a theoretical kid would like (Gorillas!) but gave less thought to what the kid might be able to relate to. (Gorillas with coconuts strapped onto their chests like ammunition, expressing the right to bear arms?” she writes.
The author also continues to explore the ongoing debate over the material that should be included in school libraries and classrooms, noting that “[s]ince 2021, at least 17 states have imposed bans or restrictions on the types of books that can be taught in schoolor stocked in school libraries.”
Folks like Weiss like to make it seem as if conservatives are banning books with innocuous messages about racism and other issues. But a closer reveals this is a lie. Schools are actually subjecting young children to far-left progressives ideas touted by folks like Ibram X. Kendi, who wrote a children’s book called “Antiracist Baby,” in which he transforms his message of “everything is racist” into a piece of content that can be easily consumed by young children.
Not only that, books like “Gender Queer: A Memoir” which includes a graphic comic depicting a teenage boy giving oral sex to another teenage boy have also been prevalent in K-12 school libraries. These are not just books that simply explore certain themes – they are naked attempts to promote progressive ideology on race, sexuality, and gender identity to small kids.
It can be no wonder, then, that people would want to provide an alternative for parents who do not want their children consuming this type of content. Indeed, most adults aren’t even aware that these books are being given to their children. This is why such a backlash ensued when this issue was exposed. Parents attended school board meetings in which they complained about the material.
But we know what’s happening here, right?
Folks like Weiss are upset that conservatives are finding other ways to push back. Just as they did with non-mainstream social media and news outlets, they are galled by the possibility of the right offering competing ideas through similar mediums. Unfortunately for them, there isn’t much they can do about it except whine.