Commentary: Censorship keeps the truth away

History holds a valuable lesson for those who listen

Commentary%3A+Censorship+keeps+the+truth+away

Gazette/GBT.org staff photo

Ashley Yung, Senior Editor

I’ll never forget the day we learned about the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Advanced Placement United States History, when Mr. Dell’Orto projected to our class the brutality of racism, not as some obsolete metaphor or some watered-down verbal recounting, but a stark image with intense violence and graphic nudity.

Initially, I misplaced my anger and was offended that a teacher could show such a detestable and explicit image.

But that was precisely his point in showing this video — to gain a better understanding of slavery, I must be challenged with something that evoked a visceral and fundamentally humane feeling of shame, anger and guilt for our country’s previous aggressions.

The visual of America’s slave trade ingrained in my memory a valuable history lesson about the vices of prejudice and greed, and the horrific ramifications.

I think so often with history we love to sympathize with victory, resonating with triumphant power struggles, booming economies and intellectual innovation.

I think so often with history we love to sympathize with victory, resonating with triumphant power struggles, booming economies and intellectual innovation.”

— Ashley Yung

However, when we’re also exposed to the worst aspects of mankind, we must sympathize again and realize the potential we have to commit egregious acts. We must cast a lens on the best aspects of mankind, but we must also see the worst aspects. Only after we see this duality within history can we use past knowledge to shape a better future.

In that moment, and in the moment where my AP European History teacher (Mr. Valentine) showed us live footage from Auschwitz, they were protecting us from the old adage, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

Many times in my educational career, I’ve been challenged with books, films and classroom discussions once considered taboo or unfit for school curriculums.

In American culture, we champion ourselves for freedom of speech and freedom of the press, freedoms that have been limited in the educational sphere through censorship, whether it be for inappropriate language or topic.

Indeed, the American past is filled with books that have been banned from high school curriculums and protested by parents.

However, these books, books such as “Beloved,” “Fahrenheit 451,” “1984,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Color Purple” and dozens of others, are keystone literary works that truly encapsulate social and political movements and remain searingly relevant to this day.

These are the books valuable to a young person’s education, allowing students to continuously question the world and challenge social norms through difficult books, films and class discussions.

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