The Farce of Banned Books WeekAlex Graham
Today is the first day of Banned Books Week, an annual event that purports to celebrate intellectual freedom and First Amendment rights by drawing attention to books that have been banned or challenged. Its organizers claim to be staunch opponents of censorship of all kinds. The American Library Association, for example, claims to promote “the freedom to express one’s opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular.” The event has gained lots of traction in secondary schools and colleges across the United States.
This must mean that students all across the country are being encouraged to read Greg Johnson’s White Nationalist Manifesto, right? Alas, this is not the case. In reality, “Banned Books Week” is a misnomer, as virtually all of the books held up as examples of censored literature were merely “challenged,” meaning that a concerned individual (often a parent) requested a local library or school to remove the book in question in order to shield young people from its influence. Books are generally challenged on account of containing profanity, graphic imagery, or mature themes such as sexuality, drugs, and abuse. In 2018, about a third of the initiators of challenges were parents (another third were “patrons,” and thirteen percent fell under the category of “administration”). In the vast majority of cases, these challenges are swiftly swatted away, and nothing happens.
Among the most frequently challenged books of 2018 were Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which contains profanity, violence, and references to gambling and underage drinking; Alex Gino’s George, which is about a boy who thinks he is a girl and wants to take estrogen; and Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, which deals with teen suicide.
The list of frequently challenged books is fairly representative of the state of modern literature for young people. Most fall under the category of young adult fiction. One notices a shift away from the adventure-loving spirit of classic children’s books like Treasure Island or The Swiss Family Robinson and toward a suffocating sense of interiority and a withdrawal into the self, best represented by the faddish first-person, present-tense style of narration. (The genre of young adult fiction is a recent phenomenon; perhaps its neurotic preoccupations can be attributed to its origins in the modern tendency to prolong childhood.) The plots of such novels generally center around some sort of domestic or personal drama in which the protagonist is somehow victimized, often because of his or her “marginalized” status. Many writers of young adult fiction today believe they have a moral obligation to educate young people on social issues, which results in novels that are heavily politicized or aggressively sexual.
Young adult novels have pride of place in most schools and many public libraries, and the people who challenge them tend to be conservative. So Banned Books Week’s exclusive focus on books stocked in libraries and schools enables liberals to LARP (albeit rather unconvincingly) as oppressed victims and turn a blind eye to the censorship directed against their opponents. They may dominate the establishment and maintain an iron grip over academia, but they are fond of pretending that they are constantly being persecuted by evil fascists and Nazis.
Of course, this could not be further from the truth. There is a world of difference between challenging books and actual censorship. The majority of those who challenge books are parents or other concerned individuals seeking to protect children in their communities from potentially harmful influences. Young people lack the maturity needed to understand what is actually good for them. In an age in which public education has deteriorated to the point that students barely learn anything and are provided with very little intellectual or moral guidance, parents must take on a greater responsibility for their children’s education. This involves supplying them with a diet of literature that inspires and ennobles them, while restricting their access to literature that does the opposite. In healthy communities, people will care about the well-being of the community’s children at large (not just their own), prompting them to demonstrate greater concern regarding the material offered at local schools and libraries.
Some of the challenges are undoubtedly silly. The furor over the picture book about gay penguins is hard to take seriously. Some evangelical Christians have argued that the Harry Potter books promote occultism and devil-worship, which is ironic considering the books’ grounding in Christian morality and biblical themes. (It would be nice if the Harry Potter books were banned, though, because then maybe people would stop talking about them.) But this is all beside the point, which is that one cannot fault parents (and related parties) for taking matters into their own hands given the derelict state of the school system and the degeneracy that prevails in mainstream culture.
Challenging a book is not an attack on free speech itself; no one is attempting to prevent books from actually being published or sold. Liberals oppose the practice not because they are high-minded defenders of free speech, but because such challenges pose a threat – however minor – to their hegemony. To riff off H. L. Mencken’s famous line about Puritans, they are haunted by the prospect that someone, somewhere out in Kansas might be entertaining a transphobic thought.
The real purpose of Banned Books Week is not to oppose censorship and defend the First Amendment. Would it not be hypocritical for someone to proudly support all forms of freedom and oppose centralized control while simultaneously seeking to dictate the actions of small-town communities? The capacity of communities to manifest their values on a local scale is itself a form of freedom of expression and freedom of association.
Instead, the underlying aim of the campaign is to expose children to degeneracy and to block attempts to prevent this. Indeed, on the front page of the Banned Books Week Website, there is an article promoting storytelling sessions hosted by drag queens: “What better way to celebrate the freedom to read than with drag queens and kids [sic] books?”
This is further underscored by the campaign’s total silence regarding the draconian suppression of Rightist viewpoints. As liberals are fond of saying, silence is complicity.
In the past year alone, Amazon erased seventeen Counter-Currents titles from its Website. Amazon has also banned Jared Taylor’s books and Kevin MacDonald’s Culture of Critique. These are clear-cut cases of censorship: Amazon has actively sought to curtail intellectual freedom and suppress dissenting voices. Its censorship of Rightist authors is a far cry from parents’ efforts (unsuccessful efforts, at that) to remove a particular book from a small-town elementary school or local library. Amazon is the largest bookseller in the world. Where is the outrage over the persecution of Greg Johnson, F. Roger Devlin, James O’Meara, Jared Taylor, Kevin MacDonald, and other Rightist authors deplatformed by Amazon? Why are the organizers of Banned Books Week not demanding that Amazon restock Counter-Currents titles?
YouTube, Facebook, and related sites have banned countless accounts associated with the Dissident Right. PayPal and Patreon have deplatformed several White Nationalist figures. There are very few remaining sites where dissidents can speak their minds freely.
The founder of Banned Books Week, Judith Krug, was a Jewish free speech activist who opposed the Communications Decency Act of 1996 on the grounds that all forms of Internet censorship violated the First Amendment. Few people back then could have predicted that the Internet would become the Dissident Right’s greatest asset in the twenty-first century. Today, Krug’s extreme opposition to censorship would be regarded with some amount of suspicion. Now that Leftists’ views have become hegemonic, defending free speech without reservation no longer benefits them.
Pointing out the hypocrisy of Banned Books Week goes a long way. Ideally, though, people would not have to find themselves challenging books on behalf of young people in the first place. This would entail retaking control over public education and challenging Leftist cultural dominance – in short, metapolitics.
* * *
Celebrate Banned Books Week by buying one of Counter-Currents‘ titles banned by Amazon.com:
- Greg Johnson’s The White Nationalist Manifesto
- Greg Johnson’s In Defense of Prejudice
- Greg Johnson’s Truth, Justice, & a Nice White Country
- Greg Johnson’s New Right vs. Old Right
- Greg Johnson, ed., North American New Right, vol. 1
- Greg Johnson, ed., North American New Right, vol. 2
- Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
- Son of Trevor Lynch’s White Nationalist Guide to the Movies
- Jonathan Bowden’s Extremists: Studies in Metapolitics
- Jonathan Bowden’s Western Civilization Bites Back
- F. Roger Devlin’s Sexual Utopia in Power
- James J. O’Meara’s The Homo and the Negro
- Irmin Vinson’s Some Thoughts on Hitler
- Spencer Quinn’s White Like You
- Michael Polignano’s Taking Our Own Side
- Savitri Devi’s Defiance: The Prison Memoirs of Savitri Devi
- Savitri Devi’s And Time Rolls On: The Savitri Devi Interviews
RE: THE NAZIS BURNED BOOKS
Nazis burned porn, pro-pedo and degenerate filth, and replaced with the classics…
Today, Jews burn the classics and replace with degenerate filth.
They also burned books by the likes of Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Hesse and Huxley. Hell, they even burned books by Jack London, a favorite author of Anglophone neo-Nazis.
The “classics” Nazis promoted in their place were provincial mediocrities, nothing more.
I wasn’t whining, I was stating fact. The vast majority of books burned by Nazis were neither pornographic nor “pro-pedo.” The burned books were also not replaced with classics in the sense Just Joe implied.
Now you name another category of burned books, those “useless to the German nation.” I fail to see how any nation would be better served by its people reading fifth-rate Blut-und-Bloden rather than Dostoyevsky or Hesse, but that’s just me.
The Germans didn’t ban Dostoevsky.
He’s made every list I’ve ever seen of books burned by Nazis. Whether his works were officially banned is another matter.
It is difficult to find such information; the famous book burning was, as far as I know, a single public event staged in May of 1933 to show through this act that certain books were considered harmful and destructive and symbolically rejected. It was certainly a drastic measure, but it was an event in a country that had just barely escaped dissolution of public order and the long arm of Communism’s headquarters. Which were banned and which were removed from public libraries? Perhaps you have a list. That Dostoyevski was banned is entirely new to me, but perhaps your sources in Eastern Europe have something on that. Jack London?
Incidentally, the most extensive measure of book burning and censorship ever occurred also in Germany, after it had been occupied by Allied forces. About 46000 titles were put on a list and all copies removed from public libraries, and from private libraries, should circumstances have allowed to do so.
Just to be clear, I’m not outraged at the notion of a book burning. Some people seem to have read more into my comments than they should have. My only intention was to counter Just Joe’s gross simplification of the nature of the books burned, and also the books promoted, by the Nazis.
For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says there were book burnings in 34 different cities. I’ve no idea how any lists of books burned were compiled, but if books were taken from libraries it shouldn’t have been hard to determine at least some of the titles. Probably, also, the participants in the book burnings were more than happy to share which works they had burned so as to attain maximum propaganda value for the event, no?
Additionally, people need to realize that not all books burned by the Nazis were officially banned.
I’m still not seeing any evidence of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or Huxley being attacked. Even if you can find such evidence, if one student burned a copy of War and Peace, that does not ipso facto mean that the NSDAP were engaged in an effort to remove said literature. I’m going to have to call bullshit on your assertions here. “provincial mediocrities” and “fifth rate blut-und-boden” are pretty vicious charges, do you have any facts to back that up?
Obviously my “pretty vicious charges” were expressions of subjective aesthetic judgment. What need do I have of facts to back them up? Read a handful of the books for yourself, or seek out the consensus of critics.
Where did I assert that “the NSDAP were engaged in an effort to remove said literature”? I specifically said to you, “Whether [Dostoyevsky’s] works were officially banned is another matter.”
I won’t be presenting you with evidence of anything. The fine details are irrelevant to my original comment, which countered Just Joe’s idealized image of Nazis burning porn and “pro-pedo” filth, and promoting “classics” in their place.
Seems undergrads have been visiting Counter Currents over the past few days.
According to Wikipedia, “authors, living and dead, were placed on the list because of Jewish descent, or because of pacifist or communist sympathies or suspicion thereof.”
Absolutely. Todd is also why they held the Exhibit of Degenerate Art. (Of which I have photos of the entire collection). It was too showcase how disgusting and pathetic the modern art movement was becoming, and the damage it was doing to classical art and society as a whole.
You do have to burn books to get rid of them. You can’t just bury them. When I was in Boy Scouts, one of our scoutmasters had a rural retreat, a wooded area of maybe 20 acres with a small hunters’ cabin in the middle. He and other parents would bring us to camp there a few times. The last time I was there, I noticed a tag of burlap sticking out of the ground near my tent. I pulled on it and it wouldn’t budge, so I alerted another scout, and we dug out a big sack full of dozens of paperbacks from the 50s and early 60s. All of them seemed to be porn (written, no pics). As I looked through them, I realized I was in danger, not from the books’ content, but from whoever buried them, which was probably my scoutmaster, who was on the premises then. I told my friend we had to rebury them quick and get the hell away from the spot, toot sweet. We did, but those books might still be there. I don’t know when they were originally buried (it was 1979 when we found them), but they were in remarkably good condition. Paper, even cheap pulp, can last a very long time.
My head spins whenever I think of protests against Twain’s Huckleberry Finn because it contains the N word. Anyone who reads it knows that Jim is a great character, one of the best in our literature. Yet, both “conservatives” and the expected “liberals” have called for taking this classic out of schools. It’s like the court case over Naked Lunch. In Boston, a judge supposedly considered banning it because of its indecency. Burroughs, no matter what you think of him, was definitely not promoting bad behavior. His book, for anyone who can read it, strongly puts off anyone from engaging in the activities described.
I wish Comstockery was still a used word.
Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy aren’t on the list. London was a favorite of the Soviets, so that’s no surprise. My father was in the CPUSA in the early Cold War era, and he once mentioned to me how popular London was in the Party.
If you wish to cite Wikipedia, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_book_burnings
Not all books burned by Nazis were necessarily banned by the Nazis. It’s a distinction that seems lost on many people.
One or some few book burnings took place , and they were symbolic in nature. Especially symbolic if there was a one night burring and the books were not banned and were therefore available otherwise.
This is a standard tactic in the Kulturkampf – to critique the centre-left mainstream from the more extreme left. I am surprised that it was not covered by Evola in his classic essay on Occult War.
For example: any reporting of immigrant crime, however circumspect and timid, is evidence of ‘demonisation of minorities by the Right-Wing Press’. Or the continual plaint that all institutions, no matter how superficially ‘Right-On’ (or as we now say, with the characteristic illiteracy of Ebonics, ‘Woke’) are saturated with mysogyny, islamophobia or racism. Or again that rape is becoming more prevalent on Campuses owing to leniency towards ‘the Far-Right’!
The intention of this stratagem is to exploit cognitive dissonance: the masses are aware that something is wrong: communities are being eroded by incomers, violent crime is rife, institutions are unjust and dysfunctional. Therefore an opportunity presents to persuade them that solution (not the cause) lies further to the left.
An additional irony, as this fine piece correctly highlights, is that the avant garde and radical left agenda, far from being brutally repressed, is increasingly given a hearing — and funding — from corporate and non-governmental sponsors. As an example I cite the last couple of years, wherein ‘gender fluidity’ succesfully transitioned from being abject nonsense to an enforceable Human Resources Department orthodoxy.
We in the dissident right of course, are the true heretics: for to openly confess the inequality (or even the existence) of races, or of the sexes, is to invite contempt and ostracism, endangering livelihood if not yet one’s family and person.
The Left project to deny natural kinds on ideological grounds will surely ratcheted further. What shall be the next ‘Liberation Struggle’? Justice for those who imagine themselves to be infants, pets or imaginary beasts, whether from insanity — or the better to prey upon our children?
Here’s an idea: send copies of works by Greg Johnson, F. Roger Devlin, James O’Meara, Jared Taylor, et alia to the organizers of Banned Books Week, and to the various libraries where they conduct their exhibitions. Attack the contradictions by challenging them to put these books on the shelves.
There’s an advertising angle. Publicize The White Nationalist Manifesto with the slogan: “Read a Banned Book.” This can also include the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain and other authors who are under fire. Instead of the PC annotations and bowlderizations, explain their worldviews in nationalist terms and how they relate to the current crisis of Western Civilization.
Great article. Does anyone see the irony of deeming a book to be banned while putting it up on a shelf for people to view? It’s almost like saying war is peace and freedom is slavery.
It would be funny if someone tried to donate white nationalist books to a library, and when the librarians refuse them, demand that they put them on display for banned books week. The media would probably not cover it though because it would help white nationalists. There’s always additional context for everything, and that context is political correctness and Jewish hegemony. It’s the creepy backdrop to everything we’re allowed to believe while still participating fully in society. It’s reason why things don’t make sense.
Many of their supposedly “banned” books are some of the most widely and readily available books ever written. What they really mean is that some parents have objected to some books being incorporated into the school curriculum (and of course only a select few books can enjoy such favorable promotion).
David McCalden, one of the founders of the Institute for Historical Review, once tried to set up a display of Holocaust revisionism books at a library for banned books week. He said they were supportive until they saw what kind of books they were. He recounts this story in the first few minutes of the interview below.
Practically speaking, we now have amazing access to books. We can get countless out-of-print books for free, many of which are quite based and nearly impossible to find in hard copy (meaning they were in essence as good as banned a few years ago). And even with all the censorship, a lot of ideas are still getting out there. But it makes it very difficult to make any MONEY producing (truly) politically controversial material. We can hardly even get books out, much less any of the more capital intensive media like, say, high quality film and television.
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