My hometown, Newtown, Connecticut, is in the midst of a book-banning controversy which also includes Curato’s book, “Flamer.” His letter to the editor of the Newtown Bee is directed to students of the local high school—where his book remains in circulation, at least for now—and reprinted here in full, with Curato’s explicit permission.
The following letter to Newtown High School Students has been received for publication by The Newtown Bee:
To the Students of Newtown High,
This letter is for you. Regardless of the outcome of this book challenge, and the other challenges that will come, there are things I need you to know.
Remember you have agency. It’s hard to have others making decisions for you. But your life is in your hands. You have a voice. Use it. Don’t let anyone silence you. Let it out. Speak it, sing it, write it, paint it, dance it. Censorship is fought with expression. That is your first amendment right, no matter your age or station.
Remember you are the future. Remember this moment. Remember how you feel. Remember what everyone said. Soon you will be an adult member of the community. What rights will you uphold? What injustices will you fight to repair? Who else in your community has been relegated to the margins? How can you help them? Lead with facts and compassion.
And above all else, know this: You deserve to be here. No matter who you are, what you believe, or who you love. When I was young, it was implied that there was no room in this world for someone like me. Not unless I followed their rules. I tried to be the person I thought everyone wanted me to be, and it broke me. Don’t do that. Don’t let anyone use shame to dictate how you should live your life. I almost lost my life to that lie. But I survived, and in living my truth, I have found the greatest joy. Flamer is my truth and my joy. It may make some people uncomfortable, but their comfort is NOTHING compared to your safety and happiness.
Remember: They can ban my book, but no one has the right to ban YOU.
Author and illustrator of Flamer
Still in the news:
Simon Rosenberg/”Hopium Chronicles” on Substack:
Last Few Weeks Have Been Good Ones for Democrats
Strong Biden Launch, Important Electoral Wins, Rs All Sorts of Ugly
All of this is why I think this election is all about expansion. Rs are giving us an incredible opportunity to grow; we have the infrastructure to do it; now that the campaign is up it is time to get going. So much is possible for us now.
We Just Keep Winning, Everywhere– As we did in 2022, so far this year Dems are performing at the upper end of what is possible. We’ve won Supreme Court races, mayoral races, state rep races. We’ve won in Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. We’ve flipped two cities, Jacksonsville and Colorado Springs, which have been Republican for decades. Just look at how awful the GOP brand is now (below). These are horrific numbers. We need to stay on offense and keep taking more political real estate away from them.
Will Bunch/The Philadelphia Inquirer:
From Philly to Colorado Springs, America voted no on extremism Tuesday
Voters in cities and suburbs — in the Philly mayor’s race, Jacksonville, and Colorado Springs — chose moderation Tuesday.
In Pennsylvania’s Delaware County, in a special state House election that would determine whether lawmakers in Harrisburg would have the votes to put their own version of an abortion ban before voters, a surge in mail-in ballots was the first sign of a landslide victory for the pro-choice Democrat. Just north in Montgomery County, Republican primary voters decided they’d finally had enough of right-wing county commissioner Joe Gale, a rabid Donald Trump supporter who’d wanted to ban mail-in ballots and survived calls for his 2020 ouster after labeling Black Lives Matter “a hate group.”It was a bad night for extremists all over America. In Colorado Springs, Colo., known for conservative politics (and as the site of six high-profile mass shootings since 2007), Yemi Mobolade, a Nigerian immigrant, shocked the local Republican establishment to become the city’s first elected Black mayor. In Jacksonville, Fla. — the nation’s largest city with a GOP mayor, run mostly by Republicans for 30 years — the candidate backed strongly both by DeSantis and the ultraconservative, book-banning Moms for Liberty lost to Democrat Donna Deegan in a huge upset.
Ronald Brownstein/The Atlantic:
Why Outspoken Women Scare Trump
Mocking the sexual-harassment reckoning is a feature of Donald Trump’s political persona.
In part, the laughter demonstrated the strength of Trump’s grip on his supporters. But the reaction also displayed something discussed much less often: how much of the GOP coalition is resistant to more assertive roles in society for women, which has produced, among other things, more frequent and visible accusations of sexual impropriety against men.
The stunning laughter when Trump belittled Carroll underlined how for many Republican voters, skepticism about women’s claims of unfair or improper treatment now intertwines with hostility to other forms of cultural change, including growing racial diversity and demands for equal treatment from the LGBTQ community. “We’re in the middle of a backlash to racial and gender progress, in which Trump has normalized the expression of racist and sexist beliefs,” Tresa Undem, a pollster for progressive organizations who specializes in attitudes about gender and race, told me. “He’s constantly tapping into these beliefs.”
Trump’s Dominance in the GOP Isn’t What It Seems
He’s presiding over a movement, not a party.
For years, political scientists have judged presidents on their strength as party leaders — how they’ve been able to grow a coalition and cement a majority — but Trump is changing the way we think about politics.
Instead, it now seems that Trump is not so much a party leader, but a movement figure. This might seem like the kind of distinction that only academics care about. But it’s key to understanding the current state of American politics, and the dilemmas now facing GOP leaders as the MAGA movement threatens to completely overtake the Republican Party itself.
Bill Scher/Washington Monthly:
Republicans Want to Impeach Mayorkas. How About Giving Him a Medal?
The Homeland Security secretary and Cuban refugee is being pilloried by the right and some on the left for his immigration policies, but the Biden administration is succeeding in slowing the influx of refugees and ending the cruelty of the Trump era.
What the administration was up to over the past two years may have looked confusing. First, the Biden administration tried to rescind Title 42, upsetting conservatives. Then federal judges stayed the order while it was being litigated. In the meantime, the administration expanded the use of Title 42, upsetting progressives. And then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ended the entire COVID-19 public health emergency. Conservatives applauded the end of Dr. Anthony Fauci-era restrictions but not the end of Title 42 powers which disappeared along with them.
Because Title 42 was being used as a deterrent to migration, the Biden administration’s moves to end it were seen as willfully—to some, recklessly—inviting more migration. But that was an oversimplification. The goal has always been to craft a more orderly system of migration.
Greg Sargent/The Washington Post:
Marjorie Taylor Greene’s impeachment stunt wrecks a big MAGA myth
Greene’s call for Biden’s impeachment is a joke: It’s unlikely McCarthy will seek it, and it’s not at all clear that Republicans would have the votes for it. Still, as Greene told reporters, GOP leaders have engaged in serious dialogue with her about what impeachment would look like.
What’s more, McCarthy reportedly feels genuine pressure to impeach Mayorkas, partly because of Greene’s campaign against him. All this shows that Republicans must take seriously her ability, as a leader of the party’s MAGA wing, to tap into sentiments surging inside the GOP base.