Books are now the target of “cancel culture”

My Turn: What 'I'm not politically correct!' really meansI’ve talked previously about “revisionist history” and the whole changing the world outlook from the “PC” police. It’s not a good sign when everything is wrong in movies, television, and now books. In an article published on July 3 in the Washington Post, While offensive TV shows get pulled, problematic books are still inspiring debate and conversation, book critic Ron Charles said…

“The great reckoning now sweeping across pop culture has been working through the stacks of literature for far longer. The effects of time are twofold: Most books have fallen into dust, along with the racist values they imbibed. And those few texts that survive have been subjected to rigorous — and ongoing — debate.”

So now its books. Books! Are we going to have a good ole book burning, like we saw at Nazi rallies or even in movies like Footloose, where religious zealots burned books like Fahrenheit 451 because of its content. In the article, Charles mentioned books like Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn  and Shakespeare’s Othello as examples of racist language not fit for today’s society. Oh course it’s not, but that’s not the point.

As I’ve said before, I’m all for racial equality across the boards. That’s been my mantra for my entire life, and I lived through the 60’s and 70’s in the South. But I draw the line at banning books. Free speech is free speech. It is an essential part of our life as American citizens. I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it with every fiber of my being. That said, I draw the line at book banning or censorship of any kind.

Books are the reflection of our life in this world. The stories of every generation can be found in the books written at that time. Yes, they can be crass, profane, and definitely not politically correct by today’s standards, but they are a reflection of the time they were written in. Books are the chronology of our life written by the authors of the time.  When you read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Huckleberry Finn, The Invisible Man, and other novels, you see the progression of our country through the racial divides. It speaks to the power of literature.

OUR DEFINITIONS OF UNPOLITICALLY CORRECT & POLITICALLY CORRECT ...

“Under the best circumstances, that’s the enriching conversation that literature can inspire: the alchemy that transmutes authors’ moral and artistic flaws into insight and understanding. I don’t mean to suggest that we’re under any super-sophisticated obligation to tolerate plainly racist books. But if cancel culture has a weakness, it’s that it risks short-circuiting the process of critical engagement that leads to our enlightenment.” ~ Ron Charles, the Washington Post

That’s the rub. If we start going after everything one group of people consider offensive (i.e. Gone with the Wind), then where does it stop? What purpose does it have if we “cancel” these novels and no longer discuss or engage in dialogue along these lines? Silence… Nothing but silence. Books allow us to have these constant discussions on race, culture, and society as a whole. It’s what helps us progress and move forward, not backwards.

Take The Great Gatsby for example. In this one novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald lays out everything from race relations to capitalism, alcoholism and class warfare. It is a model of society in that era, the wrong and the right, and opens the door to discuss what changes we could make in our world. This one novel opens up a wide range of discussion on many different topics. To get rid of it would be a great loss to us all.

Are there offensive books out there? Absolutely. There are many that I find offensive and would never read myself, but I’m just one person. We can’t let one person, or one group, dictate to the rest of us what we can or cannot read. Then, we start treading into fascism and communism, one government  rule, and then the next thing to go is our freedom. I don’t want to live like that, do you?

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available from Austin Macauley Publishing.

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