It is of the nature of modern secular ideologies that they can’t ignore the least deviation from their lengthening list of what counts as culturally unacceptable. In America, new racial and gender ideologies are now affecting even children's literature.
In an article in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon, who writes a weekly column on children's literature, gives a litany of incidents just this year in which the cultural totalitarians who now control our institutions quelled any deviation from the Party orthodoxy on matters of creative literary thought.
The Thought Police at Scholastic Books earlier this year swung into action to deal a blow for the cause of narrow-mindedness everywhere when it pulled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, because (prepare yourself) Washington's chef, Hercules, a slave, was portrayed as excessively jolly. Never mind that the book glorified Hercules or that it was written by an Iranian-Trinidadian woman and was illustrated by two African American women.
[Illustration from A Birthday Cake for George Washington, Scholastic Books]
This was reminiscent, said Gurdon, of an earlier incident in which (strap yourself in) a book called A Fine Dessert created controversy by depicting “an enslaved mother and daughter in 1810 enjoying themselves as they make and taste” a dessert.
The young adult novel When We Was Fierce was recalled by book publisher Candlewick. What was it about this book that triggered the intervention of the Tolerance Police? It contained (sit down for this one) “invented” urban dialect that was “deeply insensitive.”
In addition, Harlequin Teen Books delayed publication of Kiera Drake's The Continent for its portrayal of “‘uncivilized’ warring peoples.”
“That a mother and child, even in bondage, might enjoy a tasty dessert; that a father and daughter in the same historically cruel circumstances might experience happiness and pride—who will now dare depict such nuance? Yet it is a strange means of enforcing diversity, to prevent its real expression.”
Fewer and fewer schools include books like George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, or Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, books that portray societies run by the same kind of cultural bullies that are now running ours. It’s no wonder these books are dropping from school reading lists. Better that our students not be encouraged to ask too many questions about the real meaning of the “Tolerance and Diversity” our cultural elites are always talking about.
In fact, despite the fact that the chief theme of Fahrenheit 451 is censorship, it has been repeatedly censored. This is, of course, both ironic and laughable. The trouble is, the culturally illiterate ideologues now stalking the landscape on patrol for the slightest deviation from their PC dogmas have not only rendered themselves incapable of appreciating the irony of their own intolerance, but are unable even to laugh at themselves.
But it's okay. We’ll do it for them.
Martin Cothran is the editor of Classical Teacher magazine, published by Memoria Press, and the director of the Classical Latin School Association.