What I think is interesting in this case of censoring school board mistaken identity is that at least this particular article seems to think it’s natural that, if the same Bill Martin who wrote BROWN BEAR… had also written a book for adults called ETHICAL MARXISM, then it would be just fine to keep his well-loved (I haven’t read it) kids’ book out of the curriculum.
Whereas historically, as we now know from Julia Mickenberg, during McCarthyism, children’s publishing (because it was so trivialized) was one of the few places that blacklisted authors could still find work. Which is one reason why it became a relatively progressive industry, with, for example, books about racism and slavery — albeit ones that might strike us as dated or inadequate now — in the early ’60s, while the Civil Rights Movement was still in a pretty early stage of its spread North.
When I say relatively progressive, of course, we know to take that with a grain of salt. (By the way, a post by Editorial Anonymous — which makes a great second point about how having ignorantly non-racist intentions does not constitute a Get Out of Accusations of Racism Free card — is sparking an interesting discussion about the obligations of authors, and when pragmatic professionalism becomes opportunist careerism.)
But back to that Dallas News article… the other thing I find hilarious about it is that the author mentions that one of the school board members orchestrating the censorship of BROWN BEAR… is just plain mad that there are so many books being approved for the curriculum. This is mentioned almost as though it partially excuses his idiocy — see, it wasn’t about this book; he doesn’t want teachers to be able to choose any book for their classrooms!