A Co. Meath Councillor who has called for the classic novels ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and “Of Mice and Men” to be removed from the school curriculum, has admitted he didn’t actually read either book.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee has been acclaimed for decades as a modern classic which drew attention to racial injustice in the Southern States of the U.S. in the 1930, and it has been hailed as an important anti-racism text.
The theme of racism in Depression-era California also comes under the spotlight in John Steinbeck’s iconic book “Of Mice and Men.
Councillor Alan Lawes proposed a motion that: “Meath Co Council calls on the Department of Education to remove all literature from the school curriculum that casually and repeatedly uses offensive racial language, such as ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’ and ‘Of Mice and Men, which have no place in today’s curriculum.”
In an interview with Classic FM , Lawes admitted to host Niall Boylan that he hadn’t read the books. “I knew of the books but I haven’t read them,” he said.
However, he said that while he hadn’t read the books he was “very familiar with the films”. He said that he had been approached by mixed-race families in Navan whose children had attended secondary school in the area, and had experienced the use of the ‘n-word’ after their classes studied the acclaimed texts.
“The n-word is used repeatedly in the books,” Cllr Lawes said. He argued that children aged twelve – or first year in secondary school – hadn’t the mental capacity to understand that “To Kill a Mockingbird” had an anti-racism message, and instead had used the ‘n-word’ after reading the novel.
Niall Boylan said that the proposal was an attempt to erase history, and part of “cancel culture”. He argued the books were used to teach children history and how to confront racism.
Meath County Council did not back Lawes’s motion calling for specific books to be banned from the curriculum, but agreed to write to the department seeking a review of all the literature on the school curriculum. .
Councillor Ronan Moore, a secondary school teacher, said issues might have arisen from how the books were taught, according to the Independent.