There's new news from the Theocratic Nation of Texas today: An eighth grade teacher has been fired for assigning an "unapproved" graphic novel to the students in her class. The book that got her canned? “Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation.” Chron writes:
Per a report from KFDM, a spokesperson for Hamshire-Fannett ISD, located south of Beaumont, released a statement confirming the teacher was sent home on Wednesday after reading a passage from Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation in which Frank wrote about male and female genitalia. An investigation into the incident has since ensued.
While that sounds very scandalous, and the school district's apology to parents seems to have been written with the same severity they might use to announce that another five kids have been shot dead in a classroom and the state will be making counselors available to survivors so that everyone can process how perfectly normal this is, you should know that what Anne Frank wrote about sexuality was ... astonishingly mild stuff. She was a teenager in the 1940s, for God's sake. Even her idea of "dirty jokes" were things that Winston Churchill might say out loud on any given day of the week.
Fortunately for all of us, we can see the actual content of the book that got a teacher fired for exposing her students to it and, holy eff, everyone having a cow about “Anne Frank's Diary” is out of their damn minds.
Here, have a look. Anne gets her first period. She talks about a crush on her female best friend. She's so sheltered she has to ask what the male "sexual organ" is called, and is told that it's a "penis." Oh, and there are some anatomically undetailed nude sculptures along a garden path, the sort of statuary that a millennium of artists strove to create before rich jackasses decided they'd rather decorate their own garden paths with statues of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. And at the end, Anne dies without ever learning more than that, because that is what the Holocaust did.
Take a look at that, and tell me what sentence is supposed to be shocking to a Texas eighth grader in 2023—one who practices active shooter drills at school and has the entirety of the internet available on their parent-issued smartphone. Somebody let me know which of those pages is the one that's supposedly so unforgivably sexual that your child's teacher should be fired for daring to expose your darling to such smut.
If you're wondering where all this new prudishness is coming from, you can take your pick of theories. It's possible that an acknowledgement of adolescent same-sex crushes is the taboo America's Giant Prudes find unforgivable. It’s possible that the mere mention of the word "penis" is what did the book in, because while pubescent Anne Frank might have been able to learn the word "penis" even while hiding out from Nazis in a cramped attic, a great many of these people want their own offspring to grow up knowing even less than that.
But there is also some distinctly Nazi-adjacent stuff going on here. This isn't the first time “Anne Frank's Diary” has been targeted by book-banners, and the previous example is very instructive. Earlier this year, far-right extremist group Moms for Liberty successfully got the book banned from Indian River County, Florida, schools for similar reasons. You might know Moms for Liberty for their connections to far-right pro-sedition groups and past praise for Hitler.
The argument made by Moms for Liberty was that the graphic novel "minimizes the Holocaust."
"Florida state standards dictate that all teaching of the Holocaust must be historically correct, specifically 6A-1.094124 (3)(b),” the group said. “It was decided that this specific book minimizes the Holocaust and violates this rule."
According to these irredeemable moistened doorknobs, including the parts of Frank's diary where she grapples with puberty and sexuality "minimizes" the Holocaust—presumably because it humanizes the Holocaust's victims rather than dispensing with them as a set of numbers on a page. The notion that Anne Frank's humanity needs to be censored is deeply disturbing; that it needs to be censored for childhood thoughts on sex that every last human on the planet has grappled with shows everyone involved here is a holier-than-thou twit.
Every bathroom wall in every middle school nationwide has stuff written on it a hundred times more graphic than teenage Anne Frank's tentative musings on sexuality, and there are a whole lot of books in the American educational curriculum with more disturbing themes than "I had my period" or "I wanted to kiss my best friend today." A great many of them deal with war and murder, which no parents object to because it is the height of American patriotism to get yourself sent off to war at the age of 18 while never once learning the word for "penis."
It's not an adolescent Anne Frank having feelings that's the problem here. It's that a group of tapioca-brained moral scolds who want American kids to grow up stupid and lifeless are wreaking havoc on schools nationwide, and they genuinely think that eighth graders ought not to know that anyone anywhere has sexual thoughts. It is a level of prudery that even the Victorian era would find a bit much.
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What do you do if you're associated with one of the biggest election fraud scandals in recent memory? If you're Republican Mark Harris, you try running for office again! On this week's episode of "The Downballot," we revisit the absolutely wild story of Harris' 2018 campaign for Congress, when one of his consultants orchestrated a conspiracy to illegally collect blank absentee ballots from voters and then had his team fill them out before "casting" them. Officials wound up tossing the results of this almost-stolen election, but now Harris is back with a new bid for the House—and he won't shut up about his last race, even blaming Democrats for the debacle.