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Hentoff Summary The classic novel written by Mark Twain The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has caused great controversy over whether or not it should be removed from public schools in the United States The National Advancement Association for Colored People NAACP supported banning the book from all public schools by filing grievances with the states Human Rights Commission Nat Hentoff a nationally renowned authority on First Amendment rights as well as being a Mark Twain scholar opposed the NAACP in favor of teaching from the book to students across the nation Huck Finn has been a topic of considerable dilemma over whether or not it is in fact a racist or an anti-racist novel In a Tribune article dated November 27 1999 titled NAACP wants Huck Finn expelled Mr Hentoff quotes the NAACP stating tax dollars should not be used to perpetuate a stereotype that has psychologically damaging effects on the self-esteem of African-American children The NAACP makes it clear where they stand on the issue and gives valid reasoning for filing grievances by referring to the books content of racial epithet and bigotry After all the novel does contain the word nigger over 200 times and it is easy to see why this may be offensive and damaging towards young African-American children However the NAACP may be overlooking a thirteen year olds ability to comprehend satire and irony Mr Hentoff records an eighth graders opinion on the subject who said Do you think were so dumb that we dont know the difference between a racist book and an anti-racist book Judge Stephen Reinhardt also supported Mr Hentoffs stand against the NAACP when he wrote Words can hurt particularly racist epithets but a necessary component of any education is learning to think critically about offensive ideas Without that ability one can do little to respond to them Judge Reinhardts statement goes hand in hand with that of the eighth grader Perhaps
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