Amid the disturbing wave of school book bans by right-wing lawmakers and school administrators that has swept many states, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah took on the issue with his trademark wit on a recent episode of the show.
And to put a finer point on the stakes of the issue, Noah enlisted the perfect authority on books for kids: iconic Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton.
In a video clip, Burton read from some of the banned books and implored children watching to read any banned book they can get their hands on. See the clip below.
With all these book bans, @levarburton's life just got a lot more difficultpic.twitter.com/hkaa3jH0uB— The Daily Show (@The Daily Show) 1645016520
The book bans, which have been applied to books that discuss race, gender, sexuality, and historical issues like slavery and the Holocaust, center on obviously disingenuous, bad-faith arguments from politicians and parents that such books are divisive and traumatic for children.
The Daily Show and Burton astutely turned this into a joke that perfectly laid out the absurdity of this new movement. In the clip, Burton got set to read any children watching a storybook about Civil Rights pioneer Rosa Parks. But just as he was about to begin, he was shut down because of a "content violation."
Burton then explained:
"So as it turns out that book is banned because reading about segregation is divisive. But since almost any book with Black people these days is considered divisive, here's one that doesn't have any people in it at all."
Burton then began reading the book And Tango Makes Three, a famous children's book about a baby penguin raised by a same-sex penguin couple. This book too, of course, has been banned because of supposed "sexual perversion."
Burton then moved on to the Dr. Seuss classic Hop On Pop which--you guessed it--has also been banned in the past for being "disrespectful to parents."
After this nonsense, Burton gives up and cuts to the chase:
"There are plenty of books to choose from, but you know what? No. Read the books they don't want you to. That's where the good stuff is... Read banned books!"
On Twitter, people applauded Noah and Burton and loved their take on this disturbingly absurd new movement.
We don\u2019t deserve the wholesomeness that is Mr. Levar Burton!https://twitter.com/thedailyshow/status/1493933681731194880?s=21\u00a0\u2026— New Year, New Cat \ud83c\udf35\ud83d\udc80\ud83d\udc08\u200d\u2b1b\ud83d\udd25\ud83e\udd8b (@New Year, New Cat \ud83c\udf35\ud83d\udc80\ud83d\udc08\u200d\u2b1b\ud83d\udd25\ud83e\udd8b) 1645096838
Oh man I missed Reading Rainbow he was amazing. We really need to bring back programs of the past to bring back education that is sorely lacking.\n\nMagic School Bus, Reading Rainbow, Captain Planet - so much great educational programming lost to time— James Rath (@James Rath) 1645019005
Got itpic.twitter.com/1YCCSIDsB3— Nuckelavee \ud81a\udd10 (@Nuckelavee \ud81a\udd10) 1645016849
Reading is fundamental, , for learning, understanding people/cultures/ histories, and developing empathy. Especially when the reading knocks us out of our place of privilege and comfort! #ReadBannedBooks— Erica VH-Bostwick (@Erica VH-Bostwick) 1645029736
Just when I think I couldn't possibly love LeVar Burton more than I already did... he does this.\n\n#ReadBannedBookshttps://twitter.com/TheDailyShow/status/1493933681731194880\u00a0\u2026— Dumped, Demi, and Dalish (she/her) (@Dumped, Demi, and Dalish (she/her)) 1645065374
I did not think it was possible for me to love LeVar Burton more than I already did.\n\nApparently I was wrong. My mood has improved *significantly* since watching that.— Eljo - WHO DEY \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83c\udf0a\ud83d\udc89\ud83d\udc05 (@Eljo - WHO DEY \ud83c\uddfa\ud83c\uddf8\ud83c\udf0a\ud83d\udc89\ud83d\udc05) 1645040485
And people voiced their outrage at the book bannings themselves--which have even escalated to book burnings in some places.
How else can white people understand WHY black people are protesting, boycotting, petitioning, complaining and/or \u201cbitching all the time\u201d IF the history we all learn in school doesn\u2019t provide context and perspective which necessarily includes the black experience?— Ronnie Cromer (@Ronnie Cromer) 1645017601
Imagine how easy it will be, going forward, to be the people who screen college applications. You could just throw all the applications from Texas in the dumpster without having to even open the envelopes.— THEE BOJO \ud83e\udd85 \ud83d\udc89 (@THEE BOJO \ud83e\udd85 \ud83d\udc89) 1645022970
At this point they are going to debate banning Reading Rainbow because it has the word RAINBOW in it— Kristen Palyan (@Kristen Palyan) 1645022634
The part I love is that no one promoting the banning of books will get the irony in "reading about segregation is divisive". So reading about something that actually divided us is divisive? You think? Then read it and learn from it! #ReadBannedBooks— Tom S (@Tom S) 1645024962
For all their attempts, the right's book bans seem in some cases to have the opposite effect they intended. In the case of Art Spigelman's Maus series about the Holocaust, sales increased in the wake of the bans by a shocking 753% in just a single week.
Your move, fascists.