[NB – I have added a new title to this article, as Turley’s title was quite long]
by Johnathan Turley
We recently discussed how many on the left have discovered the allure of book burning, book banning, and blacklisting of authors. While expressing shock at ISIS and other extremist groups burning books, the practice appears acceptable based on the titles or content.
Now educators in Ontario have held a “flame purification ceremony” for the local indigenous population by burning roughly 5,000 books. The notion of teachers burning books is almost as bizarre as the thought of book sellers embracing blacklisting but both are now part of the realities of our age of rage.
These school officials actually videotaped the celebration of book burning for students at 30 schools with the announcement that “We bury the ashes of racism, discrimination and stereotypes in the hope that we will grow up in an inclusive country where all can live in prosperity and security.”
The announcement even has a type of Maoist cultural revolution feel to it. In addition, Lyne Cosette, a spokeswoman for the public French-speaking Catholic schools of Ontario, told the National Post newspaper, “Symbolically, some books were used as fertilizer.”
The entire demonstration was a disgrace to educators everywhere. The lesson of book burning left with these children will likely be indelible and lasting. I have worried about the rise of a generation of censors but the Catholic schools of Ontario appear intent on raising a generation of book burners.
What is truly chilling is the Orwellian call for children to burn books in order to be a more “inclusive country.”
Commentary by Think for Yourself
While Trudeau and others on the Left are now condemning this action, due to its perceived similarity to the Nazi book burning from the 1930s, book-burning is actually a natural extension of the censorships already practiced by Trudeau and the Left, as exemplified by his many pieces of censorship legislation, e.g., https://spencerfernando.com/2021/06/24/with-bill-c-36-trudeau-government-launches-dangerous-new-assault-on-your-freedom-of-expression/.
The teachers in question, who did this, are being chastised for an action that the Left is already doing in other ways, through social media censorship and by banning certain movies and books from being sold e.g., Dr. Seuss.
Leftism is actually a violent religion (see https://townhall.com/columnists/alliestuckey/2018/11/30/the-religion-of-leftism-n2536798) so censorship, book-burning — and by extension, murder itself — are entirely consistent with its overall trajectory.
Therefore, it’s disingenuous of Trudeau to disavow an action that’s consistent with the censorship he’s already engaged in, in other ways.
The Leftists are not concerned with actual censorship – that is, why it may be wrong (they don’t think it is: their entire worldview is predicated on it). Rather, they’re concerned with how people see them, and that’s why this disavowal has taken place.
Finally, in a sense, the biggest book-burning of all time is the widespread illiteracy created by the Internet – which in the last 20 years has greatly contributed to the growth of a narrow-minded and intolerant society through social media — although ironically, progressivism views itself as morally superior and all that came before it as “problematic.”
When I used to teach, years ago, I noticed that as computer literacy grew, real literacy — meaning, the ability to read a book — decreased.
This is because reading requires mental concentration, whereas computers tend to distract and divert focus with constantly new stimuli. The result has been a growth in what’s called “Technology Attention Deficit Disorder” (i.e., being distracted with smartphones).
I’ve noticed in my own life that since computers came out (really in the last 25 years) I’ve read fewer books than I did before. Moreover, digital publishing has effectively killed the book industry — and also the record/music industry. Authors and musicians can’t make a living as they used to. Thus computers, in their own way, are a kind of book-burning. Self-published e-books are now the norm. But real books will come back into popularity when the electric grid collapses — which it will eventually.
Teens Today Spend More Time on Digital Media, Less Time Reading
by Jean M. Twenge, American Psychological Association
WASHINGTON — If you can’t remember the last time you saw a teenager reading a book, newspaper or magazine, you’re not alone. In recent years, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens report reading a book, magazine or newspaper daily for pleasure, while more than 80 percent say they use social media every day, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
“Compared with previous generations, teens in the 2010s spent more time online and less time with traditional media, such as books, magazines and television,” said lead author Jean M. Twenge, PhD, author of the book iGen and professor of psychology at San Diego State University. “Time on digital media has displaced time once spent enjoying a book or watching TV.” The research was published in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture®.
Twenge and her colleagues analyzed data from Monitoring the Future, an ongoing study that surveys a nationally representative sample of approximately 50,000 eighth-, 10th- and 12th-grade students annually. They looked at survey results from 1976 to 2016, representing more than 1 million teenagers. While the study started with only 12th-graders in the 1970s, eighth- and 10th-graders were added in 1991.
Use of digital media increased substantially from 2006 to 2016. Among 12th-graders, internet use during leisure time doubled from one to two hours per day during that period. It also increased 75 percent for 10th graders and 68 percent for eighth-graders. Usage rates and increases were fairly uniform across gender, race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, according to Twenge.
“In the mid-2010s, the average American 12th-grader reported spending approximately two hours a day texting, just over two hours a day on the internet — which included gaming — and just under two hours a day on social media,” said Twenge. “That’s a total of about six hours per day on just three digital media activities during their leisure time.”
In comparison, 10th-graders reported a total of five hours per day and eighth-graders reported four hours per day on those three digital activities. And all that time in the digital world is seriously degrading the time they spend on more traditional media, according to Twenge.
The decline in reading print media was especially steep. In the early 1990s, 33 percent of 10th-graders said they read a newspaper almost every day. By 2016, that number was only 2 percent. In the late 1970s, 60 percent of 12th-graders said they read a book or magazine almost every day; by 2016, only 16 percent did. Twelfth-graders also reported reading two fewer books each year in 2016 compared with 1976, and approximately one-third did not read a book (including e-books) for pleasure in the year prior to the 2016 survey, nearly triple the number reported in the 1970s.
While not quite as drastic, television and movie consumption also declined. In the 1990s, 22 percent of eighth-graders reported watching five or more hours of television per day versus 13 percent in 2016. Twenge said she was surprised that the decline in teens going to the theater to watch a movie only happened recently.
“Blockbuster Video and VCRs didn’t kill going to the movies, but streaming video apparently did,” she said.
The researchers were also surprised at the steep decline in reading. “It’s so convenient to read books and magazines on electronic devices like tablets. There’s no more going to the mailbox or the bookstore — you just download the magazine issue or book and start reading. Yet reading has still declined precipitously,” said Twenge.
The findings give Twenge, as a university faculty member, a new perspective on the next generation as they approach college age.
“Think about how difficult it must be to read even five pages of an 800-page college textbook when you’ve been used to spending most of your time switching between one digital activity and another in a matter of seconds. It really highlights the challenges students and faculty both face in the current era,” said Twenge.
“There’s no lack of intelligence among young people, but they do have less experience focusing for longer periods of time and reading long-form text, “ she said. “Being able to read long-form text is crucial for understanding complex issues and developing critical thinking skills. Democracies need informed voters and involved citizens who can think through issues, and that might be more difficult for people of all ages now that online information is the norm.”
I cannot find any photo of the Ontario school book-burning, as they seem to have been scrubbed from the Internet — probably due to the bad image it would bring to Leftists to have that image circulated. The only image I could find was this:
And when you go to the page it appears as this:
In Canada, they burn churches:
“UPDATE: A map of the 65 churches that have been vandalized or burned since the residential schools announcement”
The science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 is about a dystopian future in which all books are forbidden. In the remake of the film (from 2018), some titles are shown being burnt that would offend Leftist / progressive sensibilities.
Original movie poster
Another article on it the Ontario school book-burning:
“Here’s what you need to know about the Ontario book burning“ in BlogTO
A group of schools in Ontario is facing some serious backlash this week following news that they held a book burning ceremony in which thousands of texts were destroyed.
The Conseil scolaire catholique Providence is in charge of nearly 10,000 students across 30 schools in a district in the southwest of the province, and decided to vet its libraries for texts that it considered to have “outdated and inappropriate content” that is racist and discriminatory against Indigenous people and/or culturally appropriative.
(Six Dr. Seuss books are famously now out of publication for similar reasons, which critics called a book burning of sorts, though no actual books were burned.) https://twitter.com/paul_lecrone/status/1435699313393352704
Paul LeCrone “All knowledge is sacred, even knowledge we don’t like. There’s a reason why those who suffered through the holocaust want us to remember it. Not once do you hear: “but the holocaust was bad enough to justify burning every book which references anti-Semitism!”
In total, approximately 4,700 individual books were burnt in a “flame purification” event, the ashes then used to fertilize a tree in a symbolic act of reconciliation.
Titles included fictional stories such as Tintin in America (which has been called out before for its racist stereotypes) and Asterix and the Indians, as well as biography and history books, as selected with the help of Aboriginal knowledge keepers and elders.
Though the event took place back in 2019, it is only now coming to light, stoking controversy and rebuke from writers, politicians, everyday residents and more.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on the topic that he “would never agree to the burning of books,” and that it’s not up to non-Indigenous Canadians to determine how reconciliation should take place.
PC Leader Erin O’Tolle and Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet both likewise condemned book burning, regardless of the intention behind it.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was less staunch, saying that he has “seen negative images, cartoons, and presentation that do not respect the dignity of Indigenous communities. So I think we really need to change our approach to teaching our children.”
The burning of books has never been a celebrated or accepted way to attempt to destroy the thoughts and ideas held within them, as problematic as those thoughts and ideas may be.
Social media is thus abuzz with residents criticizing the board and their actions — even calling them scary — with many saying that harmfully anachronistic content should be put into context and learned from, rather than eliminated.
People are harkening back to pertinent quotes like “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people” from German-Jewish poet Heinrich Heine and “He who destroys a good book kills reason itself” from English poet John Milton.
Others are recalling the burning of “un-German” books by the Nazis during the Holocaust, the ancient Roman burning of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, and the burning of Harry Potter and other books about magic by church groups in the U.S. in the early 2000s.
“Its destruction surprises me and seems excessive,” author Andre Noel said on Twitter of the burning of his book, Trafic chez les Hurons, during the ceremeony.
Though he stated that he feels the historical facts in his book deserve to be noted by children and that the use of fire to withdraw certain books shows a “deplorable lack of judgement,” he also said that he doesn’t want the controversy of this event to distract from “the real scandal… the exploitation of indigenous lands and the oppression of indigenous peoples by Europeans and their descendants.”
He continued on the platform: “The destruction of books in Ontario is worth a debate, but that it does not make us put aside other debates and other more important scandals and which should mobilize us urgently.
A representative for the board told the National Post that they now
“regret that we did not intervene to ensure a more appropriate plan for the commemorative ceremony and that it was offensive to some members of the community,” adding that “we sincerely regret the negative impact of this initiative intended as a gesture of reconciliation.”
Fully tweet by André Noël, the author of one of the books that was burned.
[NB – Noël’s tweet, below, strikes me as being an example of virtue-signalling and trying to make the case that book-burning is permissible as part of a larger program of ‘reconciliation’ – but that his book should not have been on the list because it’s really about social justice. Much like the scene from the movie Delta Force when Islamist terrorists are selecting Jews from among the passengers and one passenger who’s chosen says “They’re making a mistake . . . I am not Jewish . . . Ask them. Tell him I am not a Jew.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2EUyjV2zpVQ]
Mon roman pour enfants, « Trafic chez les Hurons », publié à la Courte Échelle il y a 20 ans, fait partie des livres détruits par des écoles en Ontario, apparemment dans un effort de réparation et de réconciliation avec les peuples autochtones. Qq réflexions. Des postes de radio m’ont demandé mes commentaires. J’ai refusé, car je crains que cette affaire ne soit instrumentalisée à des fins regrettables. Voici pourquoi. Mon petit roman porte notamment sur un pan peu reluisant de notre histoire, soit le recours à l’alcool par des marchands de fourrure qui faisaient la traite avec les autochtones dès le début de la colonisation, un fait historique qui mérite d’être connu par les enfants. Sa destruction m’étonne et me semble excessive. Mais je crains que cette controverse ne nous distrait du vrai scandale dont on n’a tjrs pas pris la mesure: la spoliation des terres autochtones et l’oppression des peuples autochtones par les Européens et leurs descendants, y compris au Canada et au Québec. La révolte grandissante des autochtones et les efforts de réparation sont les bienvenus. Toute remise en cause de l’ordre établi comportent tjrs des excès. La dénonciation des inévitables excès sert souvent à discréditer des discours et des revendications justifiés. La destruction de livres en Ontario vaut un débat, mais qu’elle ne nous fasse pas mettre de côté d’autres débats et d’autres scandales plus importants et qui devraient nous mobiliser de toute urgence: Manque de logements décents, absence d’eau potable, mortalité élevée dans plusieurs réserves…
… racisme ds les services de santé, absence de contrôle sur des territoires non cédés (comme les droits de coupe donnés à des cies forestières ds le parc de La Vérendrye ou des barrages en territoire innu), refus de reconnaître les infamies du passé, etc. Le retrait de certains livres des bibliothèques scolaires est souhaitable (même Hergé a fini par déplorer ses anciens préjugés). D’autres titres méritent d’y rester (dont les miens 🙂 ?). Le recours aux autodafés reflète un manque de jugement déplorable. Mais j’espère que cette affaire ne provoquera pas un nouveau déluge de commentaires ridiculisant les nécessaires prises de conscience. Ds ce cas comme ds d’autres, la parole devrait être donnée surtout aux premiers intéressés, en l’occurrence les autochtones.
My young person’s novel, “Trafic chez les Hurons”, published by Courte Échelle 20 years ago [“The Trafficking of the Hurons” https://www.amazon.com/Trafic-chez-hurons-Roman-Jeunesse/dp/2890214362%5D is among the books destroyed by schools in Ontario, apparently in an effort to make amends and reconcile with Aboriginal peoples.
Some thoughts. I have been asked by radio stations for my comments. I have refused, because I fear that this case will be used for unfortunate purposes. Here is why: my little novel is about a bad part of our history, the use of alcohol by fur traders who were trading with the natives from the beginning of the colonization, a historical fact that deserves to be known by young people.
Its destruction surprises me and seems excessive. But I fear that this controversy will distract us from the real scandal that has not yet been taken into account: the dispossession of native lands and the oppression of native peoples by Europeans and their descendants, including in Canada and Quebec.
The growing indigenous revolt and efforts at redress are welcome. Any challenge to the established order always involves excesses. Denunciation of the inevitable excesses often serves to discredit justified discourse and demands.
The destruction of books in Ontario is worth a debate, but it should not make us put aside other debates and other more important scandals that should mobilize us urgently: lack of decent housing, lack of drinking water, high mortality in several reserves, racism in health services, lack of control over unceeded territories (such as logging rights given to forestry companies in La Vérendrye Park or dams in Innu territory), refusal to acknowledge past infamies, etc.
The removal of certain books from school libraries is desirable (even Hergé ended up deploring his former prejudices). Other titles deserve to stay there (including mine 🙂 ?). The resort to self-destruction reflects a deplorable lack of judgment. But I hope that this case will not provoke a new deluge of comments ridiculing the necessary awareness. In this case as in others, the floor should be given mainly to the first concerned, in this case the natives.