As the experts on authoritarianism warn, censorship and authoritarianism go hand in hand. when those in power whitewash history of its darkest moments, they do far more damage than simply distorting the past. Patterns in history often repeat themselves. The same tools and tactics are used to attack democracy and rights over the generations. So cleansing history of its worst elements dangerously conceals those patterns and tactics even as they make their inevitable return. Putin’s war against Ukrainians provides a horrific case study: long before physical invasion, the Russian government worked to erase independent Ukrainian identity from Russian history texts.
The bottom line: censorship, book-banning, and the politicization of curricula have emerged as the latest front in the attack on democracy. We can and must fight back.