Last month, PFAW Foundation reported on a school board in Colorado that was considering removing Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye from its high school curriculum after parents objected to the book’s frank depiction of racism and sexual violence in the Depression-era Midwest.
In a board meeting last week, the school board decided to continue allowing English teachers to teach the book but to require that students submit a parental permission slip before reading it.
Now, the book’s appearance in the Common Core curriculum’s list of possible high school English texts has drawn the wrath of One Million Moms, an arm of the American Family Association, which is issuing an “ultimatum” for the book to be removed from Common Core's materials.
In an interview with the Christian Post this week, One Million Moms director Monica Cole said Morrison’s work is “no different than pornography” and found the need to condemn a pedophile character’s “use of the Lord's name to justify his actions,” claiming that this character is actually "an extremely sneaky way to involve violence in the school system."
"This book is no different than pornography," Monica Cole, director of One Million Moms, an online advocacy arm of the American Family Association, told The Christian Post in a Monday interview. She then linked pornography to human trafficking, rape, sexual violence, and even sexual slavery.
The author reportedly said "she wanted the reader to feel as though they are a 'co-conspirator' with the rapist," so "she took pains to make sure she never portrayed the actions as wrong in order to show how everyone has their own problems." The book narrates cases of pedophilia, rape, and incest which the author described as "friendly," "innocent," and "tender."
Cole said she was "speechless," that this book would be on the recommended reading list, and she set an ultimatum. "The material that is sexually graphic, we don't agree with it and it needs to be pulled from the curriculum immediately," she stated firmly.
Cole also condemned the pedophile's use of the Lord's name to justify his actions – "I work only through the Lord. He sometimes uses me to help people," the character claims. The director of One Million Moms called this "an extremely sneaky way to involve violence in the school system."
The director asked why books like this one, as opposed to the classics, are recommended to children. She mentioned "millions of books to recommend" as opposed to this one.
Cole stressed that neither One Million Moms nor the American Family Association has yet taken a stand against Common Core in general, but when it comes to The Bluest Eye, she proved more definitive. "Nothing good will come of this," she proclaimed.
The Christian Post also asked Family Research Council senior fellow Peter Sprigg about the book. Sprigg agreed that The Bluest Eye should be censored from Common Core’s recommended reading list and fretted about what Common Core means for "community moral standards," but betrayed a slightly more nuanced understanding of the purpose of fiction:
Cases like this, Sprigg explained, inflame the debate over national education standards. While he emphasized that the Family Research Council has not yet taken a stand on the issue, he defended as legitimate the fear that Common Core "will not leave room for community standards to be applied – especially moral community standards."
While Cole argued that Morrison, the book's author, likely used the book to argue for moral relativism, Sprigg gave her the benefit of the doubt. He argued that Morrison might have just wanted the reader to feel empathy for a wrongdoer – not to condone actions like rape and pedophilia.
Morrison’s book has also come under criticism from Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, which warned, “The book — a past selection of Oprah’s Book Club — has graphic sex scenes and descriptions that are likely to make you blush.”