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Pushing Back Against Book Bans

Pushing Back Against Book Bans
Apr 6, 2023 · 1h 4m 53s

Many states in America are now restricting, even banning, books that discuss important social issues that can be used in our schools. It’s a misguided attempt to somehow protect children....

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Many states in America are now restricting, even banning, books that discuss important social issues that can be used in our schools. It’s a misguided attempt to somehow protect children. Our guests today will explore those developments and their implications.

Robert Kesten has worked globally promoting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and furthering democracy. His work has taken many forms, including writing and producing an award winning documentary on the Holocaust and Concentration Camps in Poland.

He worked on the Ghanaian Constitution, produced events leading to Ukrainian independence, and events for AIDS day and decriminalization of homosexuality in Ukraine, which was the first Soviet Republic to do so.

He is currently the Executive Director of Stonewall National Museum and Archives which we will discuss. He is actively engaged in the LGBTQ+ community and committed to using history as a tool to make sense of the present and form a community response for today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Born and raised in New York, Lesley Abravanel covered the amusingly vapid celeb scene in So Flo for the Miami Herald and several illustrious supermarket mags since the Kardashians were fetuses. She also wrote about restaurants, nightlife and travel for such outlets as the and the Daily Mail.

After 2016, she took a major left turn and started using her platform to speak up about politics, especially after being blocked on Twitter by a certain one-term, twice-impeached former "president" who has recently been indicted. She parlayed that into her current position as Managing Editor for Occupy Democrats and Washington Press, two of the internet's most followed left-leaning websites.
She sometimes covers antisemitism in Palm Beach County for The Forward.

When she's not fighting fascism, she collects hot sauces, raises twins, and attempts to learn Swedish from her Stockholm-born husband. I strongly recommend that you follow her twitter page. What is it Leslie? @lesleyabravanel

Okay, for the first time in its history- only one teacher from the state of Florida is registered to attend the 10th annual Stonewall National Education Project (SNEP) Educators' Symposium next week (April 13-16) in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. One teacher. No administrators, no government employees.

Robert & Leslie—Welcome to Justice Counts. Thanks for being here.

Bob: Welcome guys. I’m Bob Gatty, co-host with Mark of Justice Counts and host of the Lean to the Left podcast, where this also will stream. Happy to have you both with us today.

Mark: I’d like to start with Robert. As I just mentioned, there is only one Florida teacher registered for the Educators’ Symposium this year. But this event is in Florida and SNEP was started ten years ago in partnership with Florida's Broward County Public Schools. What the heck is going on? Please tell our audience what SNEP is and why only one teacher is registered to attend the event?

Bob: That’s outrageous. Worse, I understand that Florida-type attacks on literature, arts, and music are spreading to other states. Tell us about that.

Mark: If the goal is to protect kids, why do the same groups who seek to ban books, also seek to permit assault rifles? Why is the 2nd Amendment sacrosanct, but the 1st not so much? I wrote an OP ED in the Washington Press called “a book never killed 6 people including 3 children in less than 15 seconds. They protect the guns but ban the books. What’s going on?

Bob: Lesley, I’d like to turn to you for a second. Hearing Mark read your bio, I think it’s a badge of honor to be banned from Twitter by a certain former president, but I also heard that you were the Managing Editor for Occupy Democrats and Washington Press, two of the internet's most followed left-leaning websites. What caused your twitter ban, and please tell us about your websites and left-leaning advocacy?

Mark: I’d like to talk education for a second. In Delray Beach, FL, I belong to a small group that is focused on educating people about anti-Semitism. As a small group, we struggle with finding the right way to approach community outreach. With regard to anti-Semitism or LGBTQ issues, which are near and dear to both of our guests, why do some people feel threatened by alternative lifestyles or non-Christian religions and what can we do to educate them?

Bob: I know that Jews represent roughly 2% of the US population. Muslims are about 2%. About 6% is LGBTQ. About 14% is Black. These four groups combined are less than a fourth of the population as 44% identify as white Christian. Obviously, there is some overlay between the LGBTQ community and the other communities, but where are these numbers heading in the future? Are minorities any kind of real threat to White Christians, or is all of this just nonsense meant to divide us? What’s perception and what’s reality?

Mark: Robert—I saw that you produced an award-winning documentary on learning about the Holocaust and concentration camps. I have a 3-part question about this. 1st, are you receiving Florida type pushback on Holocaust education in this country? 2nd, could you please compare or contrast the current anti-Semitic and anti-LGBTQ movements going on today to 1930s and 40s eastern Europe? And 3rd, how can citizens of goodwill and good faith, turn this around?

Bob: What advice do you guys have for children who are struggling with these issues and who may feel bullied or out of place in school or in their community?

Mark: I did a little research on you guys. I found out that Robert once ran for the state senate in NY and that he did so because his son asked him: “How can you ask someone to do something you won’t do yourself.” You want to tell the story?

Bob: And I read, Robert, that you have connections with both Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. You don’t look that old. Please tell us those stories. Bob: I also heard that you were once a performer, performing in 5 films, true?

Mark: And in one of those films, you played a lawyer. Talk to me. Did you like being a lawyer?

Mark: Robert- a little Rapid Fire Q & A if you don’t mind. I’d like a comment on each little snippet: You’ve advocated for: A Universal Declaration of Human Rights Walking in someone else’s shoes to be able to truly understand human rights. Every single story gets told. The fact that LGTBQ is the only community that represents a piece of every other community

Bob: Lesley: About Ron Desantis. Gov. White Power. That’s what you call Ron DeSantis on your Twitter feed. So how do you really feel about him?

Mark: Leslie, my three favorite quotes on your Twitter page are 1. DeSantis taking credit for people moving to Florida from so-called Blue states, like it is because of his policies–not the weather or tourists easing the tax burden. 2. That Florida is a “law & order” state when advocates for open carry, and 3. The number one quote? Florida is # 1 in education (unless you want to “say gay” or talk about slavery, the Holocaust, or any other dark period in our history.) What did you do with yourself before DeSantis became governor?

Bob: Leslie: According to your LinkedIn page, you were once a gossip columnist, a restaurant columnist, and a travel guide author. How did you transition to politics?

Mark: This is for either of you. Have you guys been following legal challenges to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay Law” in Florida? I understand there’s a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law. Where does it stand?

Bob: Close Thanks everyone for listening. If you haven’t done so already, please check out Mark Bello’s ripped-from-the-headlines legal thrillers, all available online at Amazon and other major online booksellers. He has quite the hero in Attorney Zachary Blake, who fights for justice on all fronts. His books are Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, Betrayal High, Supreme Betrayal, Betrayal at the Border, You Have the Right to Remain Silent and his latest, and his latest, “The Final Steps – A Harbor Springs Cozy Legal Mystery. Also, he’s written a wonderful children’s book about bullying, “Happy Jack, Sad Jack.”

For more info, just check Until next time, this is Bob Gatty for Mark Bello signing off from Justice Counts.
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Author Mark M. Bello

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