"Do they think we’re not outraged, too, here in East Tennessee? Do they think we can’t speak up and respond for ourselves? Because let me tell you, I lay awake the night before the CNN interview indulging my own outrage and constructing a commentary that would eviscerate all book ban supporters and signal to the rest of the world that I, too, am pissed off. It would feel good to give into the outrage, the indignation, the snark," Coe writes. "But I let the outrage pass over and through me because I live here. We live here. These are our people, our schools, our kids. We spend our days relying on the trust and goodwill of our neighbors to make a life here. Neil Gaiman doesn’t shop at the Food City downtown. Trevor Noah doesn’t volunteer with the local United Way. CNN isn’t interested in solutions journalism and outrage is where relationships go to die."
|McMinn County, Tenn.|
She also notes that book banning, or attempts to do so, are not limited to Tennessee. "The American Library Association says the number of attempts to ban school library books was 67% higher in September 2021 than in September 2020, fueled in large part by conservative activists organizing at a national level with an eye toward influencing local politics," Coe writes. "This isn’t a McMinn County problem or a rural problem. We aren’t a novelty. We sure as hell shouldn’t be the scapegoats for deeper rifts in our national and global fabric."
Coe is vice president of is vice president of national programs for the Center for Rural Strategies, which publishes the Daily Yonder. She also directs the Rural Assembly, a national coalition that supports better policy and more opportunity for rural Americans.