October 27, 2021 News

What People Are Saying About Glenn Youngkin’s Closing Message of Book Banning and Racist Dog Whistles


by Democratic Party of Virginia

Richmond, VA –– In the final week of his campaign for governor, Glenn Youngkin’s closing message is centered on a racist dog whistle to ban books and silence Black authors that have educated Virginia’s students for years. 

See below for a recap of what Virginians are seeing, reading, and hearing about Glenn Youngkin’s extreme right wing closing message in.

The Washington Post: Fight over teaching ‘Beloved’ book in schools becomes hot topic in Virginia governor’s race

A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 1987 has suddenly become the hottest topic in the Virginia governor’s race, as Republican Glenn Youngkin charged that Democrat Terry McAuliffe blocked parents from protecting their children from explicit classroom material, while McAuliffe responded by raising the specter of book-banning.

The novel, inspired by a true story, contains graphic depictions of sex, violence and bestiality as it portrays the horrors of slavery but was praised by New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani for having “the heightened power and resonance of myth.”

With only a week to go until Election Day, Youngkin released an ad Monday featuring Fairfax County resident Laura Murphy, who waged a battle against “Beloved” in schools beginning in 2013 after her son — a high school senior at the time — said it gave him nightmares while reading it for an advanced placement literature class.

The Hill: Youngkin ad features mother who pushed to have 'Beloved' banned from son's curriculum

Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin released a new ad on Monday, featuring a mother who pushed to have the 1987 novel "Beloved" banned from her son's English curriculum in Fairfax County, Va. roughly eight years ago. [...]

Murphy, whose son Blake was a high school senior at the time, did not detail that the content in question was the Toni Morrison novel, which tells the story of former slaves after the Civil War and depicts some of the horrors of slavery in graphic detail. However, a resurfaced Washington Post article from 2013, featured an interview with Murphy and her son. 

New York Magazine: Glenn Youngkin’s Closing Message: Ban Toni Morrison From Schools Virginia Republican wants the angriest parents to have a veto on school curriculum.

Youngkin’s new ad features the heart-wrenching story of Laura Murphy, a mother who tried to shield her son from having to read Beloved, by Toni Morrison.

The ad does not identify the book, nor does it mention that Murphy is a Republican activist. But the story was covered by the media at the time, back in 2013. Murphy’s son told the Washington Post that the book, assigned for his Advanced Placement English course, “was disgusting and gross. It was hard for me to handle. I gave up on it.” He also complained that he suffered “night terrors” as a result of reading it. Murphy sought to have Beloved banned until “new policies are adopted for books assigned for class that might have objectionable material,” said the Post.

One irony here is that Republicans are rallying around a privileged snowflake who claims a book millions of children have read caused unbearable trauma. If their principle is that parents should be able to prevent schools from assigning texts that upset their kids, what are they going to say when progressives start demanding the school excise texts by Mark Twain, Richard Wright, and other authors who have run afoul of the left for depicting racist dialogue?

If you wanted to demonstrate the pitfalls of a parental school veto, you would probably use an example like Laura Murphy: If we give parents a veto over school material, some crazy right-winger might show up demanding a ban on Toni Morrison. But this is the case Youngkin has chosen to highlight.

A reporter asked Youngkin’s campaign this week if he would support banning Beloved, but did not get an answer. But if Youngkin believes this episode is the perfect demonstration of his principle of parental control, then why doesn’t he support the claim? Either Youngkin agrees that schools can ban Beloved, or else his own plan would lead to outcomes even Youngkin can’t support.

NBC News: First Read

Blowup over “Beloved”

Back to Virginia’s race for governor, which is now featuring a blowup over a Toni Morrison novel.

“A Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 1987 has suddenly become the hottest topic in the Virginia governor’s race, as Republican Glenn Youngkin charged that Democrat Terry McAuliffe blocked parents from protecting their children from explicit classroom material, while McAuliffe responded by raising the specter of book-banning,” the Washington Post reports.

“With only a week to go until Election Day, Youngkin released an ad Monday featuring Fairfax County resident Laura Murphy, who waged a battle against ‘Beloved’ in schools beginning in 2013 after her son — a high school senior at the time — said it gave him nightmares while reading it for an advanced placement literature class.”

The Huffington Post: Mom Who Wanted To Ban ‘Beloved’ Featured In New Glenn Youngkin Ad

A GOP activist who wanted to ban the classic Toni Morrison novel “Beloved” from one of the nation’s largest school districts is featured in a new ad for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

The woman, Laura Murphy, started her campaign in 2012 after her son, then a senior in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, had night terrors after reading the book in his Advanced Placement English class.

“Beloved,” told from the perspective of a mother forced to kill her 2-year-old daughter to protect her from being returned to slavery in the years after the Civil War, features scenes of bestiality and rape. It is one of the most frequently assigned books for high school English classes, and is on the American Library Association’s list of the most frequently banned books.

The book won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 and was adapted into a feature film starring Oprah Winfrey in 1988. [...]

The Youngkin campaign would not directly answer an emailed question about whether he would support banning “Beloved” until new rules were in place, instead simply saying Youngkin would sign the legislation McAuliffe vetoed.

“Don’t be lame,” Youngkin campaign spokesman Matt Wolking wrote, accusing the reporter of using a question “written by Terry McAuliffe.” (McAuliffe did not write the question emailed to the Youngkin campaign.)

Business Insider: GOP Virginia governor candidate airs new ad starring a parent who wanted to remove Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' from schools because it gave her nearly college-aged son nightmares

A new ad for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin's campaign features a Fairfax parent who sought to have Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison's 1987 classic novel "Beloved" removed from her son's school curriculum because it gave him nightmares. [...] 

Murphy, however, does not mention in the ad that her son was a high school senior at the time and that the book in question, assigned as part of his Advanced Placement English curriculum, was "Beloved," the vivid and wrenching novel about slavery in America that won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Vice News: Mom Who Tried to Ban Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved’ Is Now a GOP Star

A mother who campaigned to get a classic Toni Morrison novel banned from Virginia schools is now front and center in a new ad for Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate. 

In 2013, Fairfax County parent Laura Murphy tried to get ‘Beloved’ banned from Fairfax County Public Schools for its “content,” after her son, then 17, said he had night terrors after reading it in an Advanced Placement (AP) English class. [...]

McAuliffe’s campaign shot back Monday that Youngkin’s message boils down to “book banning and silencing Black authors in Virginia schools,” in a statement to HuffPost. 

“Racist dog whistles and divisive conspiracy theories have been front and center for Glenn Youngkin’s campaign, putting students right at the center of the ugliness and bigotry led by Donald Trump himself,” a McAuliffe spokesperson told HuffPost.

The Week: Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin runs attack ad against Toni Morrison's 'Beloved,' McAuliffe

A week before Virginia voters pick their next governor, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin released an ad featuring a woman, Laura Murphy, criticizing Democrat Terry McAuliffe for previously vetoing a bill that would have allowed parents statewide to opt their children out of reading any book with explicit material. The bill, dubbed the "Beloved bill," stemmed from Murphy's crusade to ban Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel Beloved from Fairfax County classrooms.

Youngkin's ad, which centers on how inappropriate Morrison's book is, doesn't mention Beloved or Toni Morrison. 

Talking Points Memo: Youngkin Ad Features Mom Whose Son Was Terrorized By Toni Morrison Novel

Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin put out a 60-second ad yesterday of a Very Concerned Mother who somberly recounts how her son showed her his school reading material, and how her “heart sunk” because the reading was “some of the most explicit material you can imagine.”

On Twitter

Alfonso Lopez: Let’s be very clear - she is referring to the ‘Beloved’ bill - named after the novel by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. That ugly bill was about creating a back door path to BANNING BOOKS in schools. I know bc I fought it on the Floor year after year. Then again-you knew that…

Schuyler VanValkenburg: The @vademocrats have spent the entire election pushing for record investments in public education, increasing the number of counselors and support staff in schools, and expanding access to pre-k/community colleges. The GOP closing argument is they want to ban books. Literally.

David Ramadan: The Grand Old Party’s nominee in #Virginia, @GlennYoungkin, is featuring a mom who’s son couldn’t handle reading an award winning novel set after the American Civil War, it tells the story of a family of former slaves. Lincoln is rolling in his grave.

Louise Lucas: Glenn Youngkin is ending his campaign just like he started it, with the same ol racist BS. He wants to ban books by black authors, including Toni Morrison - one of my heroes. Book banning?? Really!??

Seth Moulton: Would love to see @glennyoungkin be as aggressive against white supremacists as he is against books.

Julia Manchester: Laura Murphy, the mother featured in this ad, pushed to get Toni Morrison’s novel “Beloved” banned from her son’s AP English curriculum in 2013

Eva McKend: The McAuliffe campaign blasting Youngkin's new ad featuring a Virginia mom/GOP activist who failed to get Toni Morrison's classic Beloved banned, describing it as "racist dog whistle designed to gin up support from...extreme elements of his party." Watch ad here

Dave Weigel: ​​Take the electoral politics out of it and removing "Beloved" from a school because it triggered somebody seems just as silly as those law professors who debate whether teaching the text of the Dred Scott decision is too triggering. 

Josh Marshall: the "son" here is a guy who worked in the Trump White House and now for the NRCC and the reading assignment that traumatized him? Toni Morrison's Beloved. Basically a demand to segregate the summer reading list

Jonathan Capehart: “Youngkin’s closing message of book banning and silencing esteemed Black authors is a racist dog whistle designed to gin up support from the most extreme elements of his party--mainly his top endorser and surrogate, Donald Trump.” @TerryMcAuliffe

Kyle Griffin: In Virginia, the Republican gubernatorial candidate's closing argument ad features a mom who wanted to ban Toni Morrison's 'Beloved' from schools because it gave her nearly college-aged kid nightmares.

Laura Bassett: I don't want to live in a world in which Toni Morrison books are banned from AP English classes. Once we go down that road, we're truly too ignorant to be saved

Marc Elias: Am I correct that Glen Youngkin is ending his campaign with ads saying that he is afraid of a high school book?

Bill Kristol: "Murphy does not mention in the ad that her son was a high school senior at the time and that the book, assigned as part of his Advanced Placement English curriculum, was 'Beloved,' the novel about slavery that won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for fiction."

Bakari Sellers: If your grown son has nightmares over the black experience, imagine how we feel…

Larry Sabato: Hooray for Glenn Youngkin in his courageous battle against Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”. Next up: “Catcher in the Rye” by dirty-minded J.D. Salinger. Then ban a book overflowing with sex and violence, the Bible. #VAGov

Allan Smith: This ad features a woman who sought to have Toni Morrison's "Beloved" banned from schools back in 2013

Kevin M. Kruse: If you’re wondering why this ad never mentions what the scary book was that she wanted to ban or what course it was used in, well, it was Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel Beloved and the class was senior-year AP English.

Judd Legum: Youngkin's closing ad features a woman, Laura Murphy, who wanted to ban the book Beloved, Toni Morrison's Pulitzer Prize winning book, from Fairfax County Schools.

Stuart Stevens: How phony is @GlennYoungkin outrage? This book is by Pulitzer winner Toni Morrison. Where Youngkin spends $40K a year to send his son, Morrison is required reading.
"English IV: Race, Gender, & Power in African American Literature"

James Fallows: Oh come on. The book was ‘Beloved,’ whose author WON THE NOBEL PRIZE for literature almost 30 years ago. This is too scary?

DNC War Room: Quite the closing message from Glenn Youngkin: Banning books and silencing Black authors.

Adrienne Elrod: No…Youngkin’s closing ad does not focus on jobs, the economy, or health care. Rather, it centers around Toni Morrison - one of America’s most beloved authors. You can’t make this stuff up!!

Maria Cardona: So @GlennYoungkin’s closing message in VA Gov race is he wants to ban books? The day that Charlottesville Neo Nazis are on trial for murder during their march, Youngkin wants to ban prize winning Black author Toni Morrison’s Beloved. That’s a racist DOG WHISTLE everyone can hear!

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