Sunday, April 14, 2024

Web Log for 4.12-13.24


It's not new or radical for public libraries to make big displays of opposition to censorship. It's traditional. If you don't see annual displays of the library's collection of "banned books," which should include the loathsome Turner Diaries, (at least some of) the brain-dead works of Judy Blume, and the seemingly endless Atlas Shrugged, you should be complaining. And if you can't find a shelf or two full of "topical political" books from both sides of every presidential administration, dating back at least fifty years, you should be complaining about that too. It needs to be easy for the young to document the historical fact that every President, including John F. Kennedy, worked with opposition and criticism from people who had no interest in killing him or even in sabotaging the next election. (People who thought JFK was wasting tax dollars on a silly "space race" cried real tears when he was murdered.) 

Your local public library probably needs to have a lot of things it doesn't have. Unacknowledged censorship, in the form of librarians' associations steered and publications edited by people with an agenda opposed to helping poor people educate themselves, has been going on for a long time. Basically, if it's a public library, nearly all of its books should be donated by members of the community it serves. Its collection should not resemble other library collections so much as it resembles its community. That means it should probably have books in several categories that it probably doesn't have:

* books written at the college level, including the Best American Essays series, which many public libraries used to collect but were encouraged to "weed out" early in the present century, and including textbooks and books on college reading lists, which even university libraries have been encouraged not to stock because heavenforbidandfend that students be able to read the books and pass the exams without paying for the course

* primary historical texts such as the Federalist Papers and the memoirs of U.S. Grant, which disappeared from public libraries as the original copies wore out, but have not been replaced

* books about, at a minimum, each of the religious traditions represented in a community, including the works of the founders of the denominations even if--like Luther and Calvin--the founders have become a bit of an embarrassment to the churchgoers

* books that explain how to do things, not only cookbooks and kindergarten-level craft books, but books that explain how to repair cars and build houses

* books that are provoking, revolutionary, reactionary, extremist, impractical, even insane, because in order to understand why Marxism and Nazism failed we need access to Das Kapital and Mein Kampf

* lots and lots of silly but not bad children's books, in a separate section or corner of the library where children can curl up by the window and read quietly when they need to decompress after school, and wait for parents to take them home

* songbooks and sheet music

* and not a lot of new fiction for adults

Using public libraries is a way of supporting them, and book lovers should be rewarding libraries for having diverse collections of real books chosen by members of the community. Instead, libraries have been pressured, for years, to get rid of books in the categories listed above, spend tax money to buy bestsellers and discard them when "everyone" in the current generation has read them, and downsize their book collections overall to replace books with faddy electronic "items," for some of which the reading equipment is already obsolete. But that's fine with too many librarians, because "Today's libraries aren't just full of old paper--they're community centers!" "Community centers" were part of the Johnson Administration's "Great Society" fantasy; they used to be funded in their own right, and in their own right they fell apart because they served no real purpose. Book lovers should not be encouraging libraries to try to replace something that was not actually useful. We should be demanding that libraries be places where people read books. Activities that are incompatible with reading, like "children's programs" where children listen to music, eat and drink, and run about, are all very well but they don't belong in the library

We've allowed libraries to deviate from their original purpose, to receive federal funding for following an agenda that actually works against the goal of making it easy for poor people to educate themselves, for too long. So it's not even surprising that librarians who have opposed blatant political censorship are now facing job discrimination and unemployment. 

I've been saying we need to defund libraries that are allowing funding to sabotage their original mission for a long time now. I love libraries--real libraries. I think the ones that have "become community centers" need to be shut down, and until government scrutinizes the agenda of sabotage and requires libraries to return to their goal of stocking books for those who choose to read them, private libraries or bookstores need to replace the libraries-as-"community-centers" boondoggles.

And I think libraries should be full of content that some people find "offensive." As should the Internet. As should real life. Because being called a frog, if you happen to be a freshman, or French, or mistaken for either of those things, does less harm than censorship does. Because the p.c. police are the people for whom the word "Shuddup!" was made.


The Marmelade Gypsy's Human got an eclipse photo that looks like an eclipse.


As a Christian, I favor reconciliation whenever possible. I don't endorse these views, but I acknowledge them. The way to show due respect to Black Americans is not to disrespect the entire population of the Southern States (which still includes a substantial portion of Black Americans). 

The position of this web site is still that both sides of the American Civil War were wrong, that war is never a good idea and that particular war was extraordinarily wrong from beginning to end, that in the 1860s John Ross spoke for the most intelligent people on the continent, that most Southerners have had better things to remember our ancestors for than whatever they did in the Civil War for a long time now, and that, for that reason, we should not judge those who don't know anything about their great-great-grandfathers except that they fought on one side or the other in the Civil War. 

A few years ago, then Governor Nikki Haley proclaimed that Confederate flags had been dishonored by that fool who chose a church to commit homicide-suicide in. Indeed they had. All of humankind had been dishonored by that vile act. This web site ventured to opine that Colonel William Peters, whose defiance of orders to burn a peaceful settlement in Pennsylvania was what set General Lee on the noble (if un-triumphant) course of not committing acts of war on non-combatants, would have been the first volunteer to shoot the fool. 

However, Nikki Haley subsequently published some displays of contempt for the safety of Americans and the security of America, on the Internet, that have dishonored her, and this web site hereby proclaims that here, at least, no further respect shall be paid to the former Governor and her misguided opinions. Because we liked her, because I for one would have voted for her if she hadn't published a massive demonstration of stupidity, the position of this web site is that Nikki Haley and all statements of hers should be allowed to retire into complete obscurity. 

But not disrespect. Let us be Southern about this. The former Governor may have made some public remarks while under the influence of some sort of prescription medication, and may need to go home and try to earn the forgiveness of her immediate family, but she's still a Southern Lady.

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