Weapons in the War of Ideas: Books & Book Burning

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Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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  1. Avatar DensityDuck
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    I will say that all these book-burning tweets feel less like “ve must CENSOR ze IMMORAL CONCEPTS” and more like emotionally-incontinent person who just broke up with her first boyfriend.Report

    • Avatar InMD
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      I see it as ‘I’m so mad I’m going to engage in some edge-lordian taboo breaking activity of no moral weight or risk to myself. AND MAKE DAMN SURE AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE KNOW ABOUT IT.’Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
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      While I don’t disagree, I am feeling ever more hesitant to write off any of these things as harmless since there seems to be an entire movement operating under our noses, and like Voldemort, everyone is scared to name it.Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck
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    And liberals just love telling us how Antifa has a Proud Tradition going back to World War Two, and yet they forget the part where all those guys jumping off the boat and running towards machine guns had “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” in their back pockets–and that story is absolutely 100% the kind of Meritocratic Fantasy that liberals tell us is not only wrong for these modern times but was never true, was always a racist lie told by racists to make themselves feel better about their racism.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg
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      A lot of people have trouble telling the difference between brand names and literal descriptions. Antifa isn’t a synonym for “anti-fascist”; it’s the aspirational brand name of a far-left ideology whose adherents are prone to calling everyone to the right of Bernie Sanders a fascist. The official name of the Berlin Wall was Antifaschistischer Schutzwall, literally the Antifa Barrier. Calling yourself anti-fascist doesn’t prove that your enemies are fascists. The soldiers fighting the Nazis in World War II were anti-fascist fighters, and many of them were exactly the kind of people that Antifa adherents would call “fascists” today.

      That aside, they’re leftists, not liberals. There’s nothing liberal about leftism.Report

  3. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    There’s a really interesting nonfiction book, called When Books Went To War, about the ASE editions. (maybe you’ve read it already). I wrote about it several years ago on my blog, and someone who ran across the post e-mailed me and said “Hey, I have quite a collection of these, would you like some of my duplicates” and he SENT THEM TO ME. I haven’t read any of them – they are a little fragile – but it’s a cool thing to look at (he knew I was a biologist so he sent me a couple of science-themed ones and maybe a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? It’s been a little while since I looked at them…

    I remember the author of When Books Went To War made a lot about how “A Tree Grows In Brooklyn” (and also one called “Chicken Every Sunday” about the life of a child growing up in a boarding house) and the idea that the soldiers and sailors were looking for normalcy, for home-life, and really? for reminders of why they were fighting.

    I never understood book burning. I do understand choosing not to read a book you have animus against the author of, or refusing to spend money that might go to that author (though then again: you can buy books second hand, if you want to read a book but want to keep that 50 cents or whatever out of the author’s dirty hands). I even kind of understand the idea of school libraries deciding not to stock certain books in favor of others that might be more “suitable” for the age group. But not a blanket “I want no one to be able to read this ever,” which is what true governmental censorship OR groups choosing to burn books want to sayReport

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
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      Yes I have read it but thank you for bringing it to my attention. It’s really a great read, anyone on here I’m quite sure would enjoy it.

      One of the things the members of the orphans’ network mentioned when I first published this piece was that it was nice to think of their fathers (most of the orphans never met their fathers, or can’t remember them) thinking of getting back home to their family.

      How cool that you ended up with some!! My dad has some in a safety deposit box along with other WWII memorabilia – because they were made cheaply and to be lightweight they’re incredibly fragile as you say.Report

  4. fillyjonk fillyjonk
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    either commenting is borked, or mine went to moderation for some reason 🙁Report

  5. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    I don’t particularly care if people choose to burn their own books. I don’t think it reflects nearly as well on them as they think it does, but it doesn’t actually do anything to limit the availability of the books to people who want to read them, and it actually drives more new book sales than selling the books to a second-hand store would. It’s really only a problem when they start raiding stores and libraries in an attempt to burn all the copies there are.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
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      I have this pesky notion that the time to stop the witch hunt is when people start looking around and saying “Methinks there be witches about” rather than waiting until the Grand Inquisitor is actually setting fire to the wood around someone’s feet.

      That’s a flip way of saying it’s not so much the acts themselves but an overall vibe I am getting that this is indicative of an attitude/mindset that would happily raid stores and libraries if they could get away with it.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg
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        says:

        I’m definitely worried about the cancer spreading further, but there are so many more concerning symptoms that people burning their own copies of Harry Potter books doesn’t even register.Report

  6. Avatar Jaybird
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    Hey, if it’s their own copies of Harry Potter, I don’t see what the problem is.

    It’s not like burning a Koran, after all, which would inspire militants to riot and kill people, thus putting the responsibility of those deaths on the heads of the Koran burners.

    I had a handful of musings on this at the time. I go back and reread that and think “how insane would I have sounded had I said ‘in a decade, people are going to be burning Harry Potter books!’?”

    Well, I imagine I wouldn’t have sounded insane at all. “Yeah… THOSE INSANE SOUTHERN BABTISTS!!!!! WHO CAN’T EVEN READ IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!”

    “No. People on the left will be burning them.” <-------- *THAT* is the sentence that would have sounded crazy.Report

    • Avatar Kristin Devine
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      I am having some fledgling chicks of thoughts about how really the underlying difference is the greater context underlying these acts and not the acts themselves, per se. There’s a difference between people burning Dixie Chicks CDs that they already owned, and the Ayatollah of Iran laying out a fatwa on Rushdie. Right? It’s the context.

      Take Kristallnacht vs. a kid knocking a baseball thru a window. To see someone smash a window on Kristallnacht and equate it to just kids playing is nonsense and yet I see so many smart, smart people doing just that here in 2020, telling me a bacondoublesomethingburger is a nothingburger.

      I don’t recall (maybe it happened, but I sure don’t recall it) the people burning Dixie Chicks CD’s hanging Natalie Maines in effigy, but that’s a go to move among some of the crew who are at present burning Harry Potter books.

      So that’s why I read things like “meh, it’s their own books, they’re just trying to be edgy” and facepalm because IMO it’s a false equivalency that makes clearly radicalized people appear harmless and ineffectual, when they’ve got a whole movement behind them and control of much of the media, Hollywood, higher education, and a lot of representatives in the government.Report

      • Avatar The question
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        Burning your own book has the same effect as destroying your Nikes after you bought them because of Kaepernick in other words literally nothing the companies have already got your money and I don’t think you can wipe any book from the face of the Earth unless you’re like the CIAReport

  7. Avatar Aaron David
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    Book burning is the same as Cancel Culture is the same as Political Correctness is the same as Censorship.

    There is a tendency, going back in time to who knows when, to attempt to cut off lines of thought, to short circuit intellectual thought and the direction of culture. We have seen aspects of this in the Spanish Inquisition, Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Cromwells England, McCarthy’s America, and now from Antifa and many of those associated with that group. My great-grandfather wrote his dissertation on this 120 years ago, The Censorship of Hebrew Books. The second post I wrote for this blog was about this.

    This is a fight that will go on forever and is always worth fighting.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
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    It’s all about who gets “THIS IS A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE!” and who gets “well, you have to understand…”

    Our side? You need to understand.
    Their side? It’s a matter of principle.
    Our allies? You really should be more charitable.
    Their allies? I don’t know why you’re ignoring the deeper issues here.
    Their enemies? Well… I haven’t put a *LOT* of thought into it, but, really, if you wanted to think about this stuff rationally, you’d not just jump immediately to judgment but think about cultural differences.Report

  9. Avatar George Turner
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    Last night the protesters in Louisville smashed the windows of the city library and threw a road flare inside. I assume they didn’t loot it because they’re not the kind of people who would have any use for books.Report

  10. Avatar greginak
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    Book burning is indeed a stupid gesture that does more to signal you are into spectacle and a wild party then anything else. Down with book burning.

    Also noted is that His Trumpness has an order forbidding gov and gov contractors from training people on forbidden topics like being anti racist and “divisive concepts.” He is also going all in for “patriotic education.” Sooooo….plenty of scary stuff out there.Report

    • Avatar George Turner
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      Trump banned the government and its contractors from teaching bug-eyed race-hatred. The Intersectionality courses might have been at home in the US in the 1920’s, or in Germany in the 30’s, or in Communist China, but surely we’ve moved past blaming everything on race, or teaching that race is the most important aspect of a person.

      And in follow-up studies, the result of these race-based “anti-racism” classes is that everybody becomes more racist. As has been hilariously pointed out, the anti-Fascists and the white supremacists don’t have any fundamental disagreements on “facts”, just slightly differing interpretations of how their “racial truths” should be spun.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg
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      Also noted is that His Trumpness has an order forbidding gov and gov contractors from training people on forbidden topics like being anti racist

      See my comment above about the distinction between brand names and literal descriptions. “Anti-Racism” (AKA Critical Race Theory) is, in this context is a brand name for a racist and profoundly toxic left-wing ideology, not a generic term for opposition to racism. Trump does a lot of dumb things, and I’m skeptical of “patriotic education” (which will probably end up being just a different kind of grift) but he’s absolutely right to want to shut down any support the Federal Government is giving to Anti-Racist (sic) grifters.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
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        Well, sure, legally preventing people from reading something is totally different than burning the stuff they were going to read.Report

      • Avatar greginak
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        says:

        It could also be any sort of generic diversity training. The order goes far beyond just CRT though why banning that is chill on it’s own isn’t wrong. The order specifies the correct version of our history and says that even saying racism is woven into american history is out of bounds. Those goes far beyond CRT. As with any trumpian statement is vague and hard to pin down which of course is par for the course and leaves room for malice. I read the order and it could easily apply to even the most anodyne discussions of race/gender or views on history.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg
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          says:

          The order specifies the correct version of our history and says that even saying racism is woven into american history is out of bounds.

          Are you referring to the EO linked by Kazzy below? The closest I can find to this is section 2(a)(2), which lists “the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist” as a “Divisive Concept” which cannot be promoted in federal training. There’s really no legitimate reason any federally-sponsored training to include such an assertion.

          As with any trumpian statement

          There’s nothing Trumpian about this. It’s carefully and precisely worded to delineate the most toxic tenets of CRT (most of them actively racist), while leaving room for legitimate anti-racism.

          I read the order and it could easily apply to even the most anodyne discussions of race/gender or views on history.

          Could you elaborate with reference to specific wording on your concerns about specific legitimate topics it would bar? And honestly, in 2020, does the Federal government really need to do anti-racism training at all? If people are being legitimately racist in a way that creates a hostile workplace or interferes with performance of their duties, just fire them.Report

          • Avatar greginak
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            Divisive concept is a ridiculous and vague phrase. Why shouldn’t discussing the history of america as racist or sexist be included. That is a value judgement you are making. There are plenty of historians and regular people who find that statement well founded but are not into CRT.

            When people talk about Fed Gov employees keep in mind this could include court and law enforcement. They sure as hell need to have some idea of how law enforcement policies have developed and are inflicted on differing communities in different ways. It could include regulators who should have an idea of things like red lining and how discrimination worked in practice. In a minor area the NPS will be giving tours or historical sites so they need to know about things like slavery and how native Americans were treated. Feds run some prisons so they need to know a lot ( assuming they want to do things well) about the psychology of prisoners and jailers. I could go on. Any immigration services on the southern border should have knowledge of all the various latino countries and local dynamics. There are plenty of areas where racism and its effects are important for various fed employees to know about and increase their awareness.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird
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              says:

              Any immigration services on the southern border should have knowledge of all the various latino countries and local dynamics. There are plenty of areas where racism and its effects are important for various fed employees to know about and increase their awareness.

              Absolutely!

              I agree with this 100%!

              The problem is that the training that people get is not of the “people from Guatemala have a lot of negative opinions of Argentinians (and vice-versa)” kind but of the “it’s not enough to be not racist, you have to be anti-racist, also, you’ll never stop being racist” kind.Report

              • Avatar greginak
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                says:

                Being anti racist sounds great. I’m all for it. I’m also against antisemitism and all sorts of bigotry.

                The current discussion implies that CRT is the complete and total sum of all discussions of racism etc. I’ve been to cultural competency training in the mental health/social services realm that could get squashed by T’s order if we were Feds. Unsurprisingly talking about the history of native americans and how is still effects them leads to some rather negative statements.And none of it has ever discussed CRT.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
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                says:

                Greg, I’m not opposed to what the policy is going for in theory.

                I’m not opposed to what Qualified Immunity is going for in theory.
                I’m not opposed to what the Prohibition of Alcohol was going for in theory.
                I’m not opposed to the War on Drugs in theory.

                The problem is that when you say “well, if you’re opposed to racism, you should also agree with Ibram X Kendi”, that I’m going to compare what the Prohibition of Alcohol was going for in theory to what it actually got in practice.

                For the record, I agree that ICE agents should be taught all about the all of the various Latinx countries and local dynamics. 100%.Report

              • Avatar InMD
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                says:

                Dude you’re being obtuse. This is happening because jackasses in the federal government have been paying race-baiting charlatans like Samuel Betances to run struggle sessions. They serve no legitimate purpose and should cease. It’s irrelevant to the job. We can safely get rid of it without trashing the rules against commenting on a coworkers butt or emailing edge-lord comedy bits.Report

        • Avatar Pinky
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          Thanks for the link, but reading it, I don’t see how anyone could oppose it. Like anyone whose absolute distance from the mean is less than Richard Spencer. Can someone give me a specific example of something this order would forbid that the commenter would support?Report

          • Avatar Kazzy
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            I didn’t read it closely but was surprised to see it was more in line with what Duck was saying than how I’m seeing it talked about elsewhere. I offered it up not as a rebuttal but as a means to dig into the meat of us. Which, based on my skim, aligns with what you offer here.

            Now, how it is practiced will be a whole other ball of wax, but that is always the case.Report

          • Avatar greginak
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            says:

            “Instructors and materials teaching that men and members of certain races, as well as our most venerable institutions, are inherently sexist and racist are appearing in workplace diversity trainings across the country, even in components of the Federal Government and among Federal contractors.”

            This right here is pointing at it. Teaching that institutions are inherently racist could forbid saying that police treat POC worse. It could forbid pointing out discrimination of any sort since it is saying an institution is racist or sexist. The EO says this is a problem we got to stop.

            2B “(b) “Race or sex stereotyping” means ascribing character traits, values, moral and ethical codes, privileges, status, or beliefs to a race or sex, or to an individual because of his or her race or sex.”

            This says that noting any privilege or status due to race or sex is not allowed. Saying that black people get treated worse or whites/mens have advantages. People couldn’t even be trained about the idea that there are disparities in how people are treated based on race/sex.Report

            • Avatar George Turner
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              Princeton’s president made a statement saying that Princeton is afflicted with systemic racism, and now the federal government has initiated a Civil Rights investigation that could result in the cutting of all federal funds to the university, since it’s illegal for the federal government to fund racist institutions.

              The simplest solution is probably to fire all the current employees of Princeton and replace them with ones who aren’t racist, or just bulldoze the entire campus like we were burning a Southern plantation.

              If an institution has a consciousness raising session where executives and employees confess to being racist and that their institutional practices are racist, then obviously they should be fired, if not prosecuted, for being confessed racists who discriminate, humiliate, and abuse people on the basis of race.

              The woke leftist’s revenue model was was to travel around making willing corporate audiences pay money to confess to being witches. The left’s political action model was to travel around burning witches. Well, the right is going to pass out matches and point and laugh as the left’s customer base goes up in flames.Report

            • Avatar Pinky
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              The executive order is only about workplace training for government workers and government contractors. It’s not going to forbid pointing out discrimination. It’s not going to forbid discussion of disparities.Report

            • Avatar InMD
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              says:

              What Pinky said. Anti-discrimination laws still exist. The EEOC still exists. No enforcement bodies have been disbanded at any level of government.

              The training has evolved from goofy self-serving risk mitigation to total farce. Good riddance to anything based on critical theory.Report

  11. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    Question: Is burning books different than burning other things? Like, say, Nike apparel?Report

    • Avatar Em Carpenter
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      I think so. Nike apparel (and Keurigs and My Pillows etc) are not ideas and speech and burning them lacks the same symbolic weight. It is also my opinion that books are inherently more valuable than those other things (not due to cost.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
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        I’m not sure I agree.

        Folks burned Nike apparel not because they thought it ugly or uncomfortable. Or because they preferred Reebok. Or because it was made in a sweatshop. The burned it because Nike used Colin Kaepernick as a spokesperson and they disagreed with Kaep’s ideas. It was a purely symbolic gesture rooted in disagreement with ideas.

        I’m not supporting book burning. I understand the very ugly history of it.

        But a book itself is just pieces of paper bound together. Much like a pair of shoes is just fabric and rubber and whatever else stitched together. Both can symbolize more or not, depending on what power we imbue them with.

        The fact that folks chose to burn their Nike products meant they felt doing so was a powerful symbolic gesture that communicated their ideas and their feelings about others’ ideas. That is meaningful. Arguably as meaningful as burning a book.

        Especially these days, when there isn’t a fire big enough to extinguish an idea. Burn all the Harry Potter books you’d like. There are millions (billions?) of paper copies available and the publisher can always make more. They exist in digital format and audio book and will never ever ever ever ever go away. This wasn’t always the case with books and specific ideas could be wiped from the planet with a big enough fire. But that isn’t the case now. So book burning isn’t what it used to be and apparel burning — which wasn’t even a thing before — is now a thing. I think drawing a line between books and other symbols misses the mark.

        None of which should be read as an endorsement of book burning. I’d never burn a book unless I needed it for heat or light in a life-or-death situation.

        Tweets, blogs, FB posts, entire websites can be deleted from the internet. Folks can be de-platformed. Is that the same as book burning? Worse? Better?

        Why elevate books — in the year 2020 — to a position that no other idea-communicating item holds?Report

        • Avatar Pinky
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          Apparel burning was a thing under Savonarola. Christian items were burned in Japan; non-Christian items were burned in Spain; everything was burned in St. Petersburg. You’re right though that there’s a difference between burning something symbolically and burning it to prevent it from being spread. A book didn’t used to be an object of possession as much as an object of stewardship. In certain situations it still is.

          I throw out books now. I’ve got some cheap, yellowed paperbacks or old technical manuals that I’ll toss into the trash. I never used to do that.

          I’m somewhere between you and Em on this one. There’s something more menacing about burning books. But symbolic speech is still recognized as speech, so burning your Nikes is a statement. Then again, maybe we don’t need to make the slippery slope argument today, when people are burning other people’s possessions and committing other acts of violence on the streets.Report

          • Avatar Pinky
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            There’s a scene in the horror movie “Slither” where the meat-craving alien disguised as a human goes to the grocery store and orders every kind of meat, then he looks at the butcher, and in a moment of realization says to him, “you’re meat”. That’s what makes book burning different than personal item burning. When the crowd says they’re going to destroy everything that contains a particular idea, you know they’re one step away from looking at an opponent and saying, “you contain this idea”.

            (Now, I’m going to assume that no one’s burning Harry Potter books based on their content, but as a denunciation of Rowling. So that’s not quite the threat.)Report

            • Avatar Kazzy
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              I need to wrestle with this idea a bit more. But you draw some interesting distinctions, primarily about intent.

              I recycle my old books. Saving the planet cancels out the censorship.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck
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      “Is burning books different than burning other things?”

      it says a lot about you that you thought this was cleverReport

    • Avatar Jaybird
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      Maybe we could agree that it’s okay to burn *BAD* books but not *GOOD* books?

      Then we could investigate *NEUTRAL* books and ask “why did the author of this book not write a *GOOD* book instead?”Report

    • Avatar KenB
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      I think it depends on the specifics. In the case of people on the left burning Harry Potter books, I’d say it’s no difference at all — they have no problem with the content of the books, they’re protesting the author’s views on an unrelated matter.

      When it’s, say, a far-right Christian burning them because the books themselves are seen to promote witchcraft, that’s more like what the Nazis were doing — trying to get rid of the information itself rather than just protesting the producer of the object.Report

  12. Avatar Rufus F.
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    I, too, hate book burners with a vehemence that is perhaps more visceral than any of my other antipathies. I’ve wondered if it’s a bit of a generational thing. I grew up at a time when banning things was associated with the PMRC and Moral Majority and everyone I knew had some sort of anti-censorship tee-shirt and was probably attracted to the most shocking art imaginable as a result. It seems as if younger people don’t have the same disgust towards the “ideaphobes” that we did.

    The first anti-book campaign I can recall actually witnessing was a local campaign by the Mormons, of all people, get get John Steinbeck’s The Pearl and Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart removed from our libraries for violence. A kid might read them and bury their parent’s heart under the floorboards or something. I guess the good news there was the city council meeting in which it was raised provided an opportunity for the councilors to brag about their anti-censorship bona fides and the motion was struck down. I have faith that most people don’t actually like being told what they can and can’t read.

    A bigger problem is how widespread aiteracy- having the ability to read but having no interest in doing so- has become. I’ve worked on a university campus for six years and still haven’t counted into the double digits the times I’ve seen a young person there reading a book- not even in the library.

    So, perhaps these sorts of campaigns will have the salutary effect that all anti-book campaigns have- making people want to read whatever books are being burned!Report

  13. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    Another interesting footnote to this story is it went the other way too- Henry Miller probably owed his career in great part to G.I.s who bought up copies of Tropic of Cancer en masse while they were in Europe because it couldn’t be published in the US. There too, any time you say that people shouldn’t read something, it only makes them want to read that something!Report

  14. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    This feels like an example of nutpicking and of conflating the protestors in Portland with the Democratic Party/establishment all in all. JK Rowling’s transphobic views have indeed soured former fans on her. This is the first time I have heard of her books being burnt by the left for that reason. I have heard of plenty of Christian right groups get into a frenzy over the allegedly satanic nature of Harry Potter though.

    And as Greginak points out, Trump has gone on a racist tear over the 1609 projects, diversity training, and all sorts of other things that the reactionary, racist right hates. Believe it or not, there is a decent sized section of the left in the United States that hates the Democratic Party as much as Republicans do.Report

  15. Avatar LeeEsq
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    Book burning is one of those things that everybody likes to invoke because they believe they can present their side on the forces of sweetness and light while tarring the other side because they like books.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels
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      These sort of easy moral formulations like “thou shalt not burn books/kill!” only provoke theologians and political philosophers to engineer complex theories to bridge over or tunnel under the rule.

      To explain why taking the life of this person isn’t really “killing” or why suppressing that book isn’t actually “censorship “.

      And its not like these theories are wrong, so much as it seems counterproductive.

      It would be more productive to admit that yes sometimes taking a life is justified and sometimes there are forms of speech that should be suppressed.

      This is productive because it forces us to address the justification instead of engaging in wordplay about definitions.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq
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        says:

        Very few people really believe unrestrained free speech either. When liberals and leftists like to talk about evil conservatives and reactionaries burning books, they prefer to focus on regimes they hate going after minority or radical authors rather than authors they might not mind so much. While we might not exactly burn books, I’m pretty sure a lot of liberals would prefer to live in a world where the Left Behind series and other Evangelical literature doesn’t exist. Likewise, the Right would probably like it if anti-capitalist books didn’t exist or at least came with some rather strong disclaimers about how wrong they are even if they wouldn’t burn the books.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels
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          The quip about history being a lie we agree on is more true than people want to admit.

          But it also is false in that it implies a sort of relativism, where nothing is ever true or false.

          For me, the difference between Good Censorship, which suppresses things that are false and defamatory, and Bad Censorship which suppresses things which aren’t, relies of course on what is true or false.

          If we look at science for an example, a scientific theory is only judged as “proven true” when there is a wide consensus, backed up by data and repeated tests.

          What should give us a red flag about “Bad Censorship” should be when a body tries to suppress speech which doesn’t have that sort of consensus and tests.Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq
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            says:

            Good censorship is a lot harder to pull off than Bad Censorship. It might even be near impossible. Are all those stories where a nerdy boy or young man ends up with a beautiful, caring, and hot girlfriend through the dint of his kindness over the jock love stories for nerdy boys or incel training manuals? How about things like the Secret. Nearly all censors believe they are engaging in good censorship, steering humans to something greater. That never really happens.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels
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              I’m thinking more about things like history, and that line about how even God can’t change the past, so He invented historians.

              The Official History that we teach students is constantly changing. We see it now with the 1619 project, and Trump’s EO response, or climate change, or the term “latinx”. Or how statues of people once considered heroes are torn down as disgraceful villians.

              When a school or university selects its official syllabus of books, changing from one to another, what does it do with the old ones?

              Do they pile them in the courtyard and set fire to them? Well of course not.
              But instead they toss them into a dumpster and literally bury them in a landfill.

              Is this censorship? Not quite. Its not like the writers and readers of the old ones are jailed.

              But it IS very definitely an attempt to shape truth and how everyone thinks. And it IS always a bit disconcerting, to see the shape of reality being changed right in front of our eyes.

              My assertion here is that this process of reshaping reality isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But we should at the very least be clear eyed about what we are doing, rather than engage in platitudes about free speech versus censorship. And it should be done as a collaborative effort, rather than by fiat.Report

          • Avatar George Turner
            Ignored
            says:

            If we look at science for an example, a scientific theory is only judged as “proven true” when there is a wide consensus, backed up by data and repeated tests.

            “And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we know the Earth is flat…”

            That is absolutely not how science works. That’s how dogma works.Report

  16. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Burning books is nuanced, and can mean different things when they do it. It’s not like the “OK” symbol.Report

  17. Avatar Rufus F.
    Ignored
    says:

    I wonder what percentage of her royalties are from books-to-be-burnt at this point.

    I still enjoy Rowling’s comeback from a few years ago, when the MAGA people were burning her books and someone tweeted at her “I will be burning your books and DVDs too.” Rowling’s line was: “Well, the fumes from the DVDs might be toxic, and I’ve still got your money, so by all means borrow my lighter.”Report

  18. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    One thing that I’m wondering is whether we have any historical examples of book burning that was not, like, really bad.

    Like, that we could point to and say “see? Burning Rowling’s books is more like *THIS* rather than the bad kind of book burning.”Report

    • Avatar DavidTC
      Ignored
      says:

      One thing that I’m wondering is whether we have any historical examples of book burning that was not, like, really bad.

      Book publishers destroy millions of unwanted books a year. I guess it really matters they pulp them instead of burning them?

      You know, there’s literally a video review with the gimmick of burning bad comics. Because they’re bad.

      Like, that we could point to and say “see? Burning Rowling’s books is more like *THIS* rather than the bad kind of book burning.”

      I know you’re being sarcastic, but yes. The answer to that question is yes. There are two types of book burning.

      The first is ‘This book is horrible, and people should be denied access to it’.

      The second is ‘This book is horrible, and I used to own it, but I am destroying it because my opinion of it has changed.’.

      The first of those is censorship. The second is…the moral equivalent of flag burning, or bra burning. Or….when conservatives destroyed their own coffee makers.

      There’s a difference between a government (Or societal pressure that is slightly below government level but people are pressured into followed) destroying things, to deny people access to those things…and people destroying their own things.

      I admit, we have a special _symbolic_ concept of book burning, so it looks worse, but…that gets into intended messages vs. perceived message. The voice-over is pretty clear about intent of the message, though. It is not ‘These books should be cleansed from the shelves’, it is ‘My specific followers(1) who as pissed at Rowling’s stance as I am: You need to understand that you cannot just divorce Rowling _from_ Harry Potter.’.

      Which…is entirely reasonable message, whether or not you agree with it, or agree Rowling has done anything bad to start with. Saying ‘You cannot ethically be fans of works by shitty creators’ is…not that controversial a message. It’s not universally accepted, but…it’s not a weird message.

      Now…if this person (Because I only see one person, the other supposedly videos were, for some utterly moronically reason, linked via _deleted Tweet_ at the Newsweek article.) was the leader of a political party or something, trying to get their party to do something about the mere existing of Rowling’s books, we _might_ have a problem. They are not.

      1) We are _really_ good at forgetting that social media is _directed at people_. Conversations are happening. Even when the post is by itself, it’s not some sort of blanket statement to society.Report

  19. Avatar DavidTC
    Ignored
    says:

    A Bible was being burned because some idiot was handing out free Bibles. Just like other things were being burned. I’m sure the protestors were anti-pizza boxes also.

    And when did Tiktok become ‘the far left’?

    This ‘Charlie Evans’ has deleted the Tweets referred to, and the links. So…could we have some sort of source for _multiple_ burnings? Besides a transphobe’s now-deleted Tweets?

    Cause honestly this is looking like…literally two things. One of which was probably not intended as any sort of statement, and one of which seems to be a call the other Harry Potter fans who do not like Rowling’s behavior to stop pretending they can divorce her work from it.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      brother, you have already posted quite a lot of words explaining to a woman about how this wasn’t actually the bad kind of book burning and that anyway book-burning is entirely acceptable in certain contexts and anyway the only people who care are icky conservatives and here’s all these examples of how they didn’t care so nyah nyah

      you cannot take those words back

      someone said “here’s an example of modern-day book burning” and you supported it, you defended it, you approved of the idea

      you cannot take that backReport

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