Throughout the last century, education and intellectual freedom have suffered a persistent assault from ideologues on the right—conservatives determined to protect tradition.
In the wake of Trump, the U.S. is currently experiencing one the most intense such moments, very dark days for teachers, students, education, and intellectual freedom.
Recently, I have begun catching up with Saga by reading Compendium One, which collects the first half, 54 issues, of the series that has recently restarted. Just before that, I had added Moon Knight to my collecting and reading commitments.
In the context of our dark days in education, those readings have struck me in powerful ways.
Moon Knight 8 (v.9) presents two dynamic pages that resonate beyond the narrative itself:
“And then she became something more—a legend,” Flint explains about Scarlet, adding:
In the beginning was the word.
Words, Hunter’s Moon, words have power.
It is with words that we make stories. And stories are the most powerful thing in the world….
She was born of words. …
Because words, taken together, make a story. And so I became a story.
A story that could kill.Moon Knight 8 (v.9)
Beyond the Moon Knight narrative, this scene captures both the importance of story, books/texts, and reading as well as why people in power fear story, books/texts, and reading.
Banning and censoring books/texts and ideas are acts of power, always, and acts of power in a state of fear.
Chapters Sixteen and Seventeen of Saga also interrogate the power of stories. First in Chapter sixteen:
“Mister, Heist, isn’t that a little … dark for Hazel?” Marko asks. And the reply:
All good children’s stories are the same; young creature breaks rules, has incredible adventure, then returns home with the knowledge that aforementioned rules are there for a reason.
Of course, the actual message to the careful reader is: break rules as often as you can, because who the hell doesn’t doesn’t want to have an adventure?Saga Chapters Sixteen
Along with the pages from Moon Knight, again, we must acknowledge why people in power fear children reading freely.
And then in Chapter Seventeen:
This full-page panel, dazzling and concise, fits perfectly into the core of the efforts by conservatives to censor and ban—the fear of confronting racism, a story of the U.S. that has only one Truth, only one side.
People in power fear Truth, and depend on compromise, especially in contexts where there is no room for compromise, to hold power for as long as possible.
Returning to Chapter Sixteen, Izabel reminds us of the accidents inherent in what anyone reads and how reading is what matters, not exclusively what is read: “I learned the alphabet from one of my parents’ [guerrilla] training manuals.”
Bans and censorship are always acts of fear and power; nothing can justify them, especially in the lives of children.