Books of Color

You would think that the late-night show comedians would find all sorts of fodder for comedy in the ongoing campaign to cancel anything and everything that might possibly be the slightest bit offensive, especially such silliness as putting warnings on the Muppet Show and canceling six Dr. Seuss books, but you would be wrong. According to this recent article at the blog Hollywood in Toto, the comedians didn’t find the cancellations worth making fun of. Instead, they mocked those silly conservatives who just don’t see the necessity of eliminating every vestige of racism from our culture and who imagine there is really some sort of cancel culture going on.

It goes without saying that today’s late night comics won’t mock the new Biden administration.

They’ve made it crystal clear their shows are progressive propaganda first and foremost. Speaking “truth to power” comes in a distant second. Some nights it ranks dead last.

When you wait nearly a year to call out a corrupt governor, that’s all the proof you need.

These comedians still could, in theory, pay attention to the culture wars attacking beloved institutions. Take Disney+ inexplicably slapping warning labels on classic episodes of “The Muppets.” Just this week the Dr. Seuss estate decided to stop publishing six of the author’s works because a very select few believe they contain racist imagery.

That’s despite Dr. Seuss’s own stepdaughter swearing he didn’t have a racist bone in his body.

Enter Stephen Colbert.

The far-left “Late Show” host chortled about the Dr. Seuss cancellation, ignoring the decades of joy his books have given children across the globe.

Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

“It’s a responsible move on their part … they recognize the impact of these images on readers, especially kids,” he said. What impact? Kids have read these books for decades without any impact save giggles and hugs from their parents.

So Colbert is firmly on the side of the cancellers and the censors. I guess he is less a comedian than a propagandist. That might be why he is not very funny. Comedy, by its nature, tends to be subversive. Authoritarian comedy is seldom very funny.

But it is this next part that made me stop and think.

He then cued up Fox News clips to mock anyone calling this another “Cancel Culture” moment.

If you’re worried your books shelves just got a bit duller, he advised, why not add tomes written by authors of color to cushion the blow?

“It’s fun to read books written after the ’40s,” he said with a twinkle.

Authors of color? What kind of an idiot selects books based on the color of the author? All last month, during Black History Month, Amazon kept offering me suggestions for Black authors I might be interested in, I wasn’t the slightest bit interested. My reasons for choosing a book to read simply do not include the race of the author. For nonfiction, I want a book about a subject I am interested in learning about and I want the author to present the information clearly and interestingly. For fiction, I want an interesting and entertaining story with characters I can relate to. I do not see how, in either case, the race or nationality of the writer matters at all. I could not possibly say how many of the books I own were written by authors of color. I would have to pull down each book from the shelf and look to see if there is a picture of the author on the cover to get an idea. I am not that interested.

As for the comment about books written since the 1940s, well many of my favorite authors, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, George Orwell, wrote their best works during the 1940s, and most of the greatest books ever written were written decades and centuries ago. I am not sure if there have been all that many books that have been written in recent years that can compare with the great classics, certainly, none that have, as yet, stood the test of time. If the censors and the wokescolds have their way there won’t be any books worth reading at all.

So, what kind of a person chooses books based on the color of the author? Maybe the sort of person who buys Books by the Foot. The sort of superficial person who is not so interested in the ideas contained in books as much as impressing people by seeming to read the correct books. Why else would someone care about the race or color of the author, than to demonstrate that they are woke or politically correct in their reading and thinking? Maybe the sort of person that becomes a late-night propagandist.

As for me, I am going to keep on reading the books I want to read and am going to ignore the suggestions from Amazon and Stephen Colbert that I should read authors because of their color because, unlike the people on the left, I am not a racist.

Dr. Seuss is Racist

I don’t think anyone expected this, but the woke have decided that something as innocuous as Dr. Seuss’s books are racist and must disappear into the memory hole, Unfortunately, Dr. Seuss Enterprises, the company that oversees the publication of the late author’s works rather than standing up for freedom of expression and literary contest, has decided to yield to the small minority of extremists who see racism everywhere and end the publication of six books that are considered to be particularly racist.

Dr. Seuss became the latest target of “cancel culture” Tuesday when six of his children’s books were yanked from publication  because of their alleged racism.

The company that oversees the publishing of Dr. Seuss’s works said  it scrapped the six books — “If I Ran the Zoo,” “And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street,” “McElligot’s Pool,” “On Beyond Zebra!,” “Scrambled Eggs Super!” and “The Cat’s Quizzer’’ — because they “portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.”

“We believed that it was time to take action,” DSE told The Post in a statement.

“We listened and took feedback from our audiences including teachers, academics and specialists in the field, too, as part of the review process.”

The move came on what would have been the 117th birthday of the late author — who has traditionally been feted by schools across the country March 2 as part of “Read Across America Day.”

President Biden even avoided mentioning Dr. Seuss in the traditional annual presidential proclamation Monday marking “Read Across America Day.”

While Dr. Seuss — whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel — remains one of the world’s most popular children’s authors three decades after his death, his books have come under fire in recent years for how they portray black people, Asian people and other groups.

If I Ran the Zoo,” for instance, has been panned for depicting Africans as “potbellied” and “thick-lipped,” as one biography of Seuss put it.

It also describes Asian characters as “helpers who all wear their eyes at a slant” from “countries no one can spell,” notes a 2019 paper on Geisel’s work published in the journal Research on Diversity in Youth Literature.

And “Mulberry Street,” the first children’s book Geisel published under his pen name, contains a controversial illustration of an Asian man holding chopsticks and a bowl of rice whom the text called “A Chinese man Who eats with sticks.”

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families,” said DSE, which works with Penguin Random House  on their publication, in an official statement.

The company — asked by The Post if there were other titles under review to be nixed —  suggested there could be.

“Dr. Seuss Enterprises is committed to identifying how they can make meaningful and lasting change in their catalog and entire portfolio,’’ the group said.’

A racist book

They should probably just get ahead of the curve and stop selling Dr. Suess’s books altogether since there is sure to be something some oversensitive wokescold is going to find in each one. Maybe they should hire some new author, someone chosen to check off as many diversity boxes as possible, never mind if he, she, or xe can actually write, to create new, politically correct books to teach children to read. Of course, children probably won’t be as interested in reading the new politically correct Suess, but learning to read is probably a racist means of enforcing white supremacy anyway.

It occurs to me that if we keep canceling everything that could possibly be considered objectionable or that must be considered in a historical context, we are not going to have much left to read or watch or listen to. Certainly, the great classics of Western literature, theater, music, and cinema will have to be jettisoned. Even if a particular piece is not problematic, its creator has surely expressed a (forbidden) opinion at some point. Besides, any aspect of Western Civilization must be considered racist and white supremacist by default. Probably the classics from other traditions will have to go too. We can’t risk exposing the snowflakes to cultures with very different values and societal norms, at least not without a trigger warning.

All that will be left, if the cancellers have their way will be bland, politically correct works with every word and expression carefully sifted and parsed to avoid any possibility of offending any member of a “marginalized” group, heterosexual White males are fair game. These woke works may not be very entertaining or informative and no one will really want to read or watch them, but at least they’ll show off the producers’ virtue, such as it is in our brave, new world of wokeness.

I think I’ll stick with Dr. Seuss and the old books.

The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible

If you find yourself annoyed by your atheist relative or friend who recites talking points from the New Atheists about the Bible; the Bible is Bronze Age mythology, unhistorical, supports slavery and genocide, Christianity retarded the advance of science, etc, then you need The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Bible by Robert Hutchinson.

Hutchinson begins by showing that the Bible is indeed historically accurate. Many supposed contradictions and inaccuracies are, in fact, the result of not understanding the literary techniques of the ancient world. He goes on to point out that, in a way, the Bible has been too successful. That is, to say, that the Western world has become so used to Biblical morality that we are often unable to understand fully the cruelty of the ancient world. Many advances in morals that we consider enlightened and modern had their beginnings in the Bible and the Hebrew culture that created it.

In ancient times, infanticide was a universal practice, except among the Jews and later the Christians. No one questioned slavery but the law of Moses softened and ameliorate the practice among the Jews by insisting masters treat their slaves justly and freeing them, with supplies to live on, after seven years. This is a marked contrast with the Roman conception of slaves as moving, talking tools, and living at their master’s whim. Later the Christians questioned slavery and ultimately Christians were responsible for abolishing slavery in the West.

It is a common belief that the Middle Ages were a time ruled by faith in which everyone was completely ignorant and science was at a standstill. Only when the Enlightenment philosophers shook off the restraints of religion was humanity able to progress. Hutchinson shows that this belief is entirely false. Science had its beginnings in the very religious and Christian Middle Ages. All of the founders of modern science, Galileo, Newton, Boyle, Pascal, and many others were devout Christians. In fact, there is a strong possibility that the Judeo-Christian worldview was especially conducive to the development of modern science. After all, it only arose in Christian Europe.

Our concepts of human rights come from the Bible. If you believe that God created man in His own image and that His son died for all of us, then it follows that each human life is precious and has the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you believe that humanity was an incidental creation of the gods or evolved from primordial muck, then you might have a different, less exalted view of the rights of man.

I can do no more than suggest the arguments that Robert Hutchinson uses in his defense of Christianity and the Bible. I recommend it highly so that as Peter commanded,

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1Peter 3:15)

 

 

The Byzantine Empire

I have just finished reading “The Byzantine Empire” by Charles Oman. I gave it five stars in my review at Amazon.com.

This relatively short book is an excellent introduction to the history of the Byzantine Empire. The author, Charles Oman, seems to have been among the first western historians to get away from Gibbon’s dismissals of the Byzantines a corrupt and cowardly and to present them in their true light, the defenders of the West from Islam for 800 years. There is a lot Oman skips over, that is unavoidable, but there is more than enough here to whet the appetite for more.

Obviously I liked it a lot.

God’s Battalions by Rodney Stark

    The premise of God’s Battalions is that everything you think you know about the Crusades is simply wrong. No, the Crusades were not an act of Christian aggression against the Muslims. The Crusades were, in fact, a belated response to centuries of Muslim aggression against Christendom. No, the Crusaders were not ignorant barbarians attacking a far more civilized enemy. The supposed golden age of Islam was not as much a high point of learning, as is generally supposed, especially since most of the learning was the work of non-Muslims. On the other hand, Europe, even during the so-called Dark Ages, was already beginning to pull ahead in practical technology. Anyway, as Stark points out, the concept of the Dark Ages is not particularly accurate and historians have largely abandoned it.

     Yes, the Crusaders did sack Jerusalem. This was standard practice against cities that resisted a siege. In any case, Muslim atrocities exceeded Christian. No, the Crusaders did not slaughter Jews on the way to the Holy Land. German peasants did that. The Crusaders were forbidden by the Pope to harm Jews and many times bishops protected the Jews from the mobs.

    Stark makes a strong case for the Crusades. They were, as I have said, a reaction to aggression. The Crusaders acted, for the most part, from the highest of motives. They did not expect to get rich from their endeavors. Many Crusaders went bankrupt. They truly believed they were God’s battalions.

     We, their descendants, have nothing to apologize for. Indeed, we should be proud of the men who marched across half the world, and won stunning victories against a foe who vastly outnumbered them. Their deeds were glorious.

     I did take issue with his description of the Byzantines as treacherous. The Byzantines had no reason to trust these armies who were marching across their territory, especially since their leaders included some of Byzantium’s deadliest enemies. The sack of Constantinople cannot be as easily defended as Stark does. It may have been standard practice and the Angeli emperors bore most of the responsibility for the events, nevertheless, it was a crime, it that Byzantium was permanently weakened and it tended to discredit future crusades.

    Overall, God’s Battalions is a noble work and well worth reading.