Admit it, the “political correctness” movement has brought positive changes. Bullying, harassing and taunting have decreased. Discrimination based on race, religion, color, gender and sexual orientation has diminished. MeToo, gay-straight-trans alliances and Black Lives Matter are firmly established. “PC,” as it is called, is part of today’s fabric.

On the other hand, not all institutions have benefited from this social progression. Literature has taken a punch that has knocked out some books from high school curricula. The removal of seminal works has deprived many students of an integral part of their education.

For example, the magnum opus of Mark Twain is no longer studied in many schools, and yet Ernest Hemingway said, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called ‘Huckleberry Finn.’ There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” The conflict between Huck’s sound heart and deformed conscience, as he decides whether or not to free the runaway slave Jim, is an unrivaled example of self-confrontation in all literature.

So, why is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” no longer studied? The answer: The “N-word” is used more than 100 times. Why is it so ubiquitous? The reader knows, of course, that such was the vernacular. Also, Twain’s principal mission was to expose human faults, vices and follies in his writing. Satire is prevalent in many of his books.

What should be done? In the 1970s, one teacher in the Portland school system huddled with his students of color before the class reading of “Huckleberry Finn” and told them what to expect. There were no protests, no anger, no walkouts. Most importantly, the students profited from the experience.

So, come on, superintendents, principals and department chairs. Be responsible. Be positive. Do not rob from those who depend on your wisdom a book that “all modern American literature comes from.”

Morton Soule

Portland


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