The Great Othering

Where they burn books, so too will they in the end burn human beings. – Heinrich Heine

This last week there was a mild kerfuffle in the world of those bloggers who love and often write books, and who also love history. This was caused by a marginally-literate screed published on a personal blog by one Sofia Leung, who professes to be a feminist and a librarian of the totally-woke/social-justice/critical-race-theory variety. Said screed was amplified in the twitter feed of the Library Journal, until the tweet was deleted, (possibly at the urging of someone with a lick of sense and professionalism). I suspect that the Library Journal is a publication which was once much more respected and authoritative; like Time, Newsweek, Scientific American, Harper’s, Smithsonian and National Geographic once were, before being overtaken in a flood of semi-coherent woke/social-justice/critical-race-theory nonsense. Quoth Ms. Leung –

“Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten…”

I swear, those two sentences alone encompass ignorance of such pure, stainless density as to drop into the center of the earth and emerge on the other side. (A close rival this week, is the Twitter feed of a painfully ignorant SJW who insisted that white people shouldn’t be permitted to learn Spanish because it wasn’t properly a ‘white’ language.*) However, the phrase which raises the hair on the back of the neck of any historically-knowledgeable of whatever color or shade of whiteness is her complaint that such materiel – presumably papers, publications and books which reflect that so-called “whiteness” “… are physically taking up space in our libraries.”

Taking up space in our libraries. Reflect on that for a moment. Our libraries. Taking a rather royally-possessive attitude, here, aren’t we, Ms. Leung? Considering that these tenuously United States are still inhabited largely by citizens whose national origins were somewhere north of the Mediterranean, and west of the Ural Mountains and thus are to be ‘white’ by the standards of this current century. (The definition of ‘white’ is curiously elastic; depending on the point to be proven. Americans of Oriental descent, and those whose origins are in South America are frequently also lumped into the ‘white’ category, for purposes of allocating places at prestigious universities or for inflating/deflating categories of certain crimes with regard to the ethnic background of the convicted.) Are we not supposed to be educated and diverted by volumes of whatever – poetry, history, philosophy, drama – in our own tradition? What is it that you are proposing to do with that which you so magisterially disapprove of, Ms. Leung? Remove it, as something unclean? Perhaps you have an auto-da-fe of books in mind, if you have thought that far ahead, when you consider a condemnation of stuff physically taking up space in libraries?

Additionally, I am also fairly certain that – depending on the nature of the library in question – that many of those institutions so casually dismissed by Ms. Leung contain extensive collections of material in the original language or in authoritative translation from the ancient world, from India and the Orient. Indeed, wherever there was a written language, there must be material, both original and informed commentary – from a direct source which in now ways could be considered ‘white’ and layers and layers of comment which perhaps might be …

In any case, Ms. Leung is considered by me to be a disgrace to her profession – a dangerous and bigoted one, with delusions of adequacy far beyond her intelligence, as it is displayed in her blog post. Is this expressed wish of hers – to cleanse “our” libraries of the dreaded taint of “whiteness” a kind of harbinger when it comes to fashion among the woke set? How seriously should we take it? Are we – us ‘normies’ and flyover citizens – now past the second or third marker on the road to be erased, in having our history, what we value intellectually being thrown down the memory hole?

Discuss as you wish.

*Can’t find the link for this – but I know I saw it.

22 thoughts on “The Great Othering”

  1. “Tabaqui, more than anyone else in the jungle, is apt to go mad, and then he forgets that he was ever afraid of anyone, and runs through the forest biting everything in his way. Even the tiger runs and hides when little Tabaqui goes mad, for madness is the most disgraceful thing that can overtake a wild creature. We call it hydrophobia, but they call it dewanee–the madness– and run.”

    or an older description

    “the beginning of his talking is folly and the end of it is wicked madness.”

  2. What does she propose to replace them with?

    While writing about political correctness a few days ago, I came across something that changed an idea of mine.

    And that is, how does the hard left view free speech?

    …free speech is an expression of one’s power rather than a contribution to truth or toward a reasonable settlement. In this notion, speech is more determined by one’s desire to get the better of an opponent or to defeat an enemy than offered as persuasion to an audience.

    We keep assuming “they” simply want to quash contrary thought but don’t know why.

  3. She fully intends to burn it and she will. Mark my words, the books will be removed and destroyed with the cheerful help of the librarians. Once the accusation has been made it can only be followed ti its end.

  4. They already remove the books they don’t like, they call it “curating”.

    But it really comes down to censoring the content of the library; Donate a book they don’t want, and a week later they’ll sell it in a book sale for pennies on the dollar. Literally burning the book would not be a large step from that.

    I’ve had that experience; Found my local library a bit one-sided on the topic of gun control, so I donated a few books on my side of the debate. Even took care to get new hardcovers on acid free paper.

    A week later they showed up in the used book sale for 50 cents. When I complained, pointing out they were new books, and I’d even gotten one autographed, they kicked the price up to 75 cents.

  5. Everybody knows libraries are hives of racism. Hell, the pages are WHITE and they dominate from every book. The down trodden BLACK printed matter gets relegated to the background.

  6. …free speech is an expression of one’s power rather than a contribution to truth or toward a reasonable settlement. In this notion, speech is more determined by one’s desire to get the better of an opponent or to defeat an enemy than offered as persuasion to an audience.

    It is not difficult to read between those lines. It is basically saying, “With free speech, I know I will lose, because the ideas behind my speech do not hold the factual and historical basis, logical coherence, and flat out common sense that will allow them to prevail. Thus I cannot win with free speech, so therefore free speech must be discredited and thus denied to my opponents…. by any means necessary.”

    Charles Krauthammer used to say, “Conservatives think liberals are wrong, liberals think conservatives are evil.” He was right.


    Conservatives are rapidly coming to the conclusion that the liberalism as expressed in today’s academia and much of culture are stone demonic evil of the highest order, that must and will be opposed by ANY…. ANY… means necessary.

    And that does not bode well.

  7. Her blog entry on the above ( explains her “Critical Race Theory” argument for the above stated conclusion.

    Near the end, she states “I still have some thinking to do around this topic, but curious to hear what others think. I’m less interested in hearing that you don’t buy it, so don’t bother with those types of comments.”

    There – that’s all you need to know. She wants to hear only from others who agree with her. A product of our university system that teaches that only corroborating opinions should be tolerated? Probably. Dissenting opinions are scary and must not be allowed. That’s the Left in a nutshell.

  8. ‘’are physically taking up space in our libraries.”

    These books should be in oppressor-skin only libraries available only to those with minds strong enough to withstand oppression. None of the knowledge should leak out to contaminate the minds of oppressed-skin students.

  9. Time wasted, discussing the ramblings of idiots? Unfortunately, many of them seem to be influential idiots. Like AOC? Ignoring them, or just laughing at them and then ignoring them only seemed to have let them thrive and spread even further dangerous idiocy.

  10. “Ignoring them, or just laughing at them and then ignoring them only seemed to have let them thrive and spread even further dangerous idiocy.”

    Of course, the logic of that true statement leads to only one conclusion: it’s time to shoot our way out of socialism. (Check out the prevalence of voter fraud and then tell me we’ll vote our way out. I could use the laugh. And as for the legal system? They ignore that at will.)

  11. I used to believe that all we had to do was to donate alternative viewpoint books, or neutral books. But, thanks to “curating”, it’s clear that we’ve gone beyond that remedy.

    I’m thinking we need to start some local resources – people sign up for participation in a circulating book club. Meet once/twice a month, bearing a few books that others had requested (easy enough to do, with Goodreads/bookshelf apps. Exchange, and enjoy bookish talk and snacks. I’ve long thought that we need to buy some of our political/cultural books in hard copy, to facilitate lending them out.

    This is best done locally – keeps down the cost of getting books from hand to hand. Maybe work with your neighborhood watch, local associations?

  12. @Linda Fox
    Maybe HOAs could do some good, and find a local building.

    (HOAs are the lowest true level of government. We need to treat them as such, and put them to use pulling back power toward the citizen. IMHO)

  13. Perhaps time lost is more accurate than time wasted. Like being laid up with necrotizing fasciitis for a month…or a year…or a decade….or…..

  14. To Linda, Brian, and Brett,

    Not all is lost! There are still a few like me, and a few of my colleagues (the daily-mass Catholic, the huntress, and the repentant Obama voter) who are still trying to uphold the ancient values of the profession; e.g., Truth, Justice, and the American Way. (No, I’m not at all equating librarians with Kryptonians in exile. [Nudge-nudge, wink-wink.]) Seriously, my department still believes in objectivity, access, and the marketplace of ideas, even the liberals among us. I hope that after the inevitable shakeout, we will be able to salvage our collective reputation – oh heck, SANITY.

  15. People of Color as they were meant to do and continue to do. One only has to look at the most recent incident at the library of my alma mater, Barnard College, where several security guards tried to kick out a Black Columbia student for being Black

    I saw that. The black Columbia student refused to show his ID when he entered the library in order to deliberately provoke security into a response. He had previously observed that they were often lenient about checking IDs. He allegedly thought security was letting white students slide while strictly checking people of color (whatever that means).

    Things didn’t go according to plan. The campus cops actually let him in without ID, throwing a wrench into the guy’s history-making moment, so he proceeded to start a ruckus at the entrance in order to get attention. The cops still didn’t kick him out. They just took his ID, probably to sensibly check to see if he was a real student, and then the guy screamed about the injustice of having his ID taken away. Had he kept his big mouth shut, he would’ve had his ID and walked in with no incident.

    It’s actually amusing. All throughout the video, this lunatic is screaming like Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon or something, while the campus cops are calmly and routinely defusing the situation in a professional manner. It’s a portrait of two different segments of America – one living in a fantasy world and the other back in reality picking up the pieces.

  16. I don’t like to get conspiratorial, but the Purging of the Libraries may have already started here in Atlanta, often called “a Chocolate City.” Starting around Saint Patrick’s Day ad continuing until the anniversary of the Easter Rebellion in Dublin, I get in touch with my maternal roots by reading about Irish history and culture, (In late April, around the time of Shakespeare’s Birthday and through the Marry Month of May I get in touch with my paternal roots by reading about English history and sulture.) This year I noticed that the county library no longer has a lot of the books on Irish history and culture it has had for many years. Seamus Out, Shaniqua In?

  17. It began decades ago, back when my Mother-in-Law still worked at a suburban library west of Chicago. They remaindered any books older than 30 (maybe 40) years, remaindered spare copies of all books, and worked to expand the video section at the expense of the book collection (reason given–community demand; nobody read books and everybody rented videos). The community was heavily black, and when the school-kids were assigned “The Autobiography of Malcom X” they found that the library had only one copy left.

    I gathered that the reason for only keeping new books is that old books told of old bad ways, and only the new books had appropriate attitudes. On the other hand, the debacle with the duplicate books suggests that garden variety stupidity can’t be ruled out.

  18. A surprisingly positive experience to the run-up to the 2012 election, I noticed that a local library had a ‘politics’ shelf, with all of the books being clearly pro-Dem. I asked to talk with whoever was in charge, fully expecting an unpleasant conversation with an unpleasant person, but thinking I ought to at least give it a try.

    But out came this really beautiful young woman, who listened to my explanation of what was wrong, and promised to fix it. And she did.

  19. In the only Library Science course I ever took, I learned that removing documentary evidence and cultural artifacts, like books, are key parts of that delightful practice called ethnic cleansing. It’s the intellectual equivalent of salting the earth, so the Cleansed can’t reconstitute.

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