Monday, January 06, 2014
To the editor:
Amherst is a difficult place to be a public employee in the limelight. We’ve recently seen the hullabaloo about nuts in the schools, and now the discussion about “Tintin” in the library. Both of these situations are complicated and difficult, and the superintendent and library director are owed our understanding of that fact.
I would especially like to applaud the handling of the “Tintin” issue by Sharon Sharry and her staff. When I discovered years ago that some of those books, which I loved and still appreciate, were so blatantly racist, I was quite saddened. Explicit racism such as that is unacceptable today, as is subtler subconscious racism, which we all need to watch for vigilantly in ourselves.
But censorship is also unacceptable. The position Ms. Sharry has taken resonates strongly with me in that regard. I think it is excellent that members of our community have brought this issue up. I think it is excellent that the library trustees are giving it the serious discussion it deserves. And I think that the library staff and trustees are so far exactly right in their handling of the issue.
As I understand it, the solution to racism is not to hide it away, but rather to shine a light on it. Thank you to the authors of the letter for shining that light, and to the Jones Library for not hiding it away.