Don't Let Them Ban Our Books



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To celebrate Banned Books Week, a dedicated young librarian at a local university invited students, faculty, and staff to participate in the Banned Books Read-Out — held yesterday in two sessions (11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. & 4:00 to 6:00 p.m., campus amphitheater) across from the university library. In addition to a display of banned books that grace the library’s lobby, a list of one hundred banned books was provided for those wishing to devote ten minutes of their time to participate in this noble endeavor.

For my ten minutes, I selected Kurt Vonnegut’s acclaimed Slaughterhouse Five for the following reasons:

1. Since the end of WWII the U.S. has waged war on the Korean Peninsula, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and at least half a dozen more countries around the globe.

2 Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary has, at long last, forced us to engage in some serious soul searching, and a much needed conversation about the many lies, mistakes, and atrocities of this war, thus providing an opportunity to reach out to the hundreds of thousands who served in Vietnam as well as those who opposed the war and helped bring it to an end.

3. The U.S. is still using its superior military power, a disproportionate, scorch earth power that incinerates thousands of precious lives in faraway lands, and a power that pulverizes entire nation states.

4. Recent threats of unleashing the “fire and fury” of nuclear weaponry poses a grave danger to humanity.

5. Innocent civilians seem to always be in the sights of machine guns, missiles, and now, drones and MOABs .

6. Those who order soldiers to wade into the hades of military adventures do so under the guise of national security; waging a war is, after all, a pernicious flag-waving pathway to furthering political careers; gullible voters continue to buy into war snake oil.

7. And finally, I have seen firsthand the ravages of war and the devastating effects wars have had on individuals, communities, nations, and regions. I have inherited my mother’s Quaker values.

My ten minutes of reading were dedicated to Robert Pillsbury and Randall Obrien, two very dear friends who served honorably in Vietnam, to the memory of Steve Epperson, a college classmate whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam War Memorial wall in Washington, DC, and barely 30 feet from this amphitheater here on this campus, and to the countless others who served and continue to do so.
What follows are passages quoted directly from Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, Delacorte Press, 1969, and are presented, in sequential order, exactly as they appear in this classic work.

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