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Censoring a "Marxist rant"

By Ganesh Lal | July 18, 2003 | Page 2

RIGHT-WING students are attacking academic freedom in North Carolina. A small group calling itself the Committee for a Better Carolina is up in arms over the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's decision to assign Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel and Dimed as a summer reading project for incoming freshman.

Nickel and Dimed is a brilliant exposé of the plight of the working poor in the U.S. But to these students, it is "a classic Marxist rant" and "an all-out assault on Christians, conservatives and capitalism." So they said in a full-page ad in a local newspaper, paid for by the ultra-conservative John William Pope Foundation.

This isn't the first time that conservatives targeted the reading list at UNC-Chapel Hill. Last fall, a Virginia-based Christian fundamentalist group sued the university for assigning a book about Islam called Approaching the Qu'uran as summer reading.

UNC grad student and activist John Cox told Socialist Worker that while there is no direct connection between the two attempts at censorship, last year's controversy seems to have inspired campus conservatives.

But UNC-Chapel Hill also has a tradition of progressive activism--and students are fighting back with a series of actions, Cox said. He called the attack on Nickel and Dimed "a sign of desperation and of frustration" from right-wingers who "lose considerable sleep when they look around and see anti-war teach-ins [drawing] 200 people."

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