In Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler banned and burned books, a form of censorship, due to political, religious, moral, and ethnic beliefs.

Fictional classics, like “Ivanhoe” and “Oliver Twist,” novels written in the 19th century, were banned because they featured Jewish characters. Nazi Germany hated Jews, who, at that time, were affluent and belonged to the intellectual class. In fact, Hitler exterminated more than six million Jews during the Second World War.

Hitler also hated the Communists, and banned and burned copies of “The Communist Manifesto” and the four volumes of “Das Kapital” written by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

Nazi Germany found these books to be subversive.

Countries around the world have also banned or have restricted access to books, including the Holy Bible, for a number of varying reasons. The Holy Bible was banned in Russia and China due to its policy of state atheism.

In the Philippines, Jose Rizal’s two novels – “Noli Me Tangere” and “El Filibusterismo” – were banned during the Spanish colonial period for exposing the abuses of friars and the colonial government.

Filipino revolutionaries read the two novels and smuggled copies of the books, similar to what was done in other countries that banned novels, poems, plays and nonfiction works, including biographies.

But, in the digital age, it is unthinkable for the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) to ban a list of books in schools and libraries in the country and deem these to be subversive.

In a memorandum, dated August 9, th KWF said it was pulling out the books so the commission could not held accountable under the Anti-Terrorism Act or Republic Act 11479 for inciting to commit terrorism.

Some of the books were written by renowned writers, like the late National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, during martial law. Three books were even published by KWF.

KWF issued the ban a day after a former official of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) called out the KWF for allowing books that promote anti-Marcos and anti-Duterte sentiments and poisoning the minds of young Filipinos.

Lorraine Badoy was joined by an army officer, Lt. Col. Frank Sayson, in attacking KWF for not banning the following books: “Teatro Pulitikal Dos” by Malou Jacob; “Kalatas: Mga Kuwentong Bayan at Kwentong Buhay” by Rommel B. Rodriguez, “Tawid-diwa sa Pananagisag ni Bienvenido Lumbera: Ang Bayan, ang Manunulat, at ang Magasing Sagisag sa Imahinatibong Yugto ng Batas Militar 1975-1979” by Dexter B. Cayanes, “May Hadlang ang Umaga” by Don Pagusara, and “Labas: Mga Palabas sa Labas ng Sentro” by Reuel M. Aguila.

Scholars, academicians and other sectors immediately reacted and scored the KWF for allowing itself to be bullied by Badoy and Sayson, describing the ban as a form of “red-tagging.”

They said the KWF’s ban, under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, was far worse than the drug war killings under his predecessor, Rodrigo Duterte, because it affected not only a certain sector of society but the whole country, including future generations.

However, it is still uncertain if the ban on these books will work. It might be counterproductive and backfire, making the books more popular and most sought after.

The government can ban the books but can it stop people from reading the books online? Banning books is a stupid idea. The idea brings the country back to the dark ages when ideas and beliefs were suppressed if they did not conform to what those in power widely believed and followed.

Books are part of the media.The KWF’s memorandum infringed on freedom of expression and the press. It is unfair to label the five books banned by KWF as subversive and promoting violence.

In a democracy, there should be a free market of ideas and the people are allowed to choose what to believe. The government should not dictate what the people should read, listen, and watch. The state has no monopoly of ideas.

The Philippines is not Russia, China, North Korea, or Iran. It must allow its citizens to make a choice on what books to read as well as believe, take part in and practice their religion, and be active in politics and social organization as long as they do not actively take up arms to overthrow the government.

The law on sedition, which includes membership to the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), has long been repealed. Terrorism is a loaded word. There is no universal agreement on what terrorism is all about.

The former NTF-ELCAC official has crossed the line. She should not be allowed to bully the KWF and to continue “red-tagging” esteemed writers, artists, journalists and academicians.

The “red-tagging” must stop. There must be academic freedom in schools and students must be allowed to choose what books to read.