Book Burning for (and by) Dummies

Haec sic pernosces parva perductus opella…
“So you’ll become very knowledgeable about these things, guided with just a little effort….”

Lucretius On the nature of things 1.1114

It would seem in our quest to Make America Great Again, we are reaching into that old reliable method of destroying that which we cannot or will not understand.

And we’ve done this by banning books.

Can it be a stretch of the imagination to see this followed up with book-burning? It would seem not after the debacle and revelations of the last four years. And since Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 were once considered controversial, I bet many leading the charge of banning books have never read either.

Soon the most intellectual, and moral of course, among us will diligently seek that which is causing the spiritual decay of America and toss them into a colossal barn fire accompanied by appropriate patriotic music (perhaps Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries would work, similar political philosophies seemed to find it suitable.)

We can follow this up with even more effective tactics to Save America from its descent into hell.

Find a book offensive? Burn it.

Find an opposing position untenable? Then, belittle, mock it, and spread lies about it.

Cannot tolerate a different point of view? Criminalize it.

Find the Constitution inconvenient? Ignore it.

Because some find particular material offensive, that is, in conflict with or challenging their own personal lifestyle choices or concepts of society, they demand its removal from the school library to protect our children.

I thought libraries were there to help educate and expose our children to the vast reality of the world. Foolish me. If our goal is a homogeneity of thoughts and ideas, we risk sacrificing ingenuity for bland sameness. Those who would go down this path are willing to exchange greatness—which derives from different perspectives to create a limitless palette of color—for underwhelming banality.

If one wants to burn a book that might make a difference, start with the Bible. That fictional work has caused more bloodshed and wreaked more havoc on humankind than the combined effect of thousands of other books. Plus, the chapters on the keeping of enslaved people are out of date, not to mention the offensive references to the ejaculative emissions of donkeys (look it up, it is in the Bible!)

While reading material should always be age appropriate, it should never be just an affirmation of one point of view or supportive of only one cultural perspective.

When I was in the eighth grade (way back in the dark ages of 1969), we debated American involvement in Vietnam. I argued in favor of our presence there. There, but for the fortunes of birth, I might have blindly marched off to fight in that terrible foreign policy mistake. And that war was an error by political leaders, not by the brave Americans who fought there.

Our military is directed by our political leaders and subject to their errors. An imperfect system but better than the alternative. But the experience of participating in the process taught me to consider all sides of an issue. I wonder if such a frank and open discussion of such a controversial issue would even be tolerated in the educational environment today?

History repeats, not because we fail to learn from it but because we let time or those with ambitions whitewash it.

And of course, one place leading the charge for banning books is Tennessee, which apparently has conveniently forgotten the Scopes Monkey Trial (itself a misnomer as monkeys were descended from an entirely different evolutionary path for which they are eternally grateful.)

The concept of evolution, one of the most well-established scientific theories, was inconveniently in conflict with religious doctrine, so it had to be suppressed despite the evidence. Look up the definition of theory before you scream it’s only a theory! So is gravity, yet no one has drifted into space yet.

Thus, the argument goes, we must ban books that portray graphic descriptions of things some cannot or will not understand. What happened to the concept of teaching? The whole point of school is to teach one to use reason and analysis to reach conclusions. To examine all aspects of a matter before drawing any conclusion.

Banning books is the exact opposite of teaching. It is the oppression of the weak by the powerful to preserve what they see as proper. And, of course, the politicians are pandering to this rush to illiteracy hoping to garner the votes of those too stupid (a politically incorrect yet apropos appellation) to realize the danger of their quixotic goals.

Ted Cruz, who many of his professors thought brilliant, would have read a wide variety of books at Princeton. That’s the point of education. Or perhaps he didn’t and just used Cliff notes to get by. And I will bet Harvard Law didn’t offer Cruz a narrow perspective on the law either. But it seems not to matter to the good Senator from Texas.

“Cruz says “left-wing educators” are introducing children to “explicit pornography” in schools as parents and conservative politicians in his state target books on racism and sexuality as inappropriate for public schools and libraries.

When asked what he meant, Cruz would not cite particular examples of pornographic content in schools but instead pointed to books that have made parents angry at school board meetings in general.

“Take a look at some of the portions from books that parents are going to school boards and reading out loud; this is what my child is being taught,'” he told Insider during an interview at the US Capitol. “And in too many instances, you have left-wing educators putting explicit pornography in front of kids. I think that is severely misguided.”

Here is a rule to live by. When someone says something is wrong and needs to be fixed but cannot cite one example of exactly how it is wrong and offers a solution only they can craft, it is almost certainly hogwash and polemic nonsense.

Yet here we are in 21st century America, embracing practices once common among governments that burned witches and heretics. If such becomes commonplace in this country, we have much to fear for our longevity.

But I take hope in a quote by FDR.

“Books cannot be killed by fire. People die, but books never die. No man and no force can abolish memory… In this war, we know, books are weapons. And it is a part of your dedication always to make them weapons for man’s freedom.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

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