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Americans for Truth in News

Book Burning
The burning of a book that was censored and banned and then destroyed by fire. Black background.
Book Burning

Americans for Truth in News

As a journalist and author, watching the progression of book banning, and now, book burning, in the United States, is a real cause for concern. While it’s true that many American attention spans have gotten shorter since technology advanced into fast-and-faster moving objects on screens, a certain amount of education can only come from reading books. While it’s true images are impactful in the moment, written words can better express conditions and ideas, especially concerning historical events.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the Feb. 3 edition of The Nashville Scene news magazine reported that Pastor Greg Locke had organized an old-fashioned book burning, “calling it a deliverance from demons.” There was a short clip from the burning on our national television news here in Florida that week, but it didn’t get the long-term attention most journalists and authors would say it needs.

This, folks, is a huge deal, as anybody who has read (or watched) Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, or Michael Moore’s recent “adaptation,” of that, titled Fahrenheit 9/11, already knows.

If not for books, how would the most recent three generations of Americans know that during World War II, Winston Churchill said, “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it?’ Or even know who Winston Churchill was?
I bring that up because Churchill’s words apply here.
We have to be careful about regulating ideas and thoughts conveyed in books. Oh, it isn’t like that’s a brand-new thing here in the U.S. In 1933, Nazi-dominated student groups carried out public burnings of books they claimed were “un-German” in thirty-four U.S. university towns and cities. And during the McCarthy era in the late 1940s and to early ‘50s, when the Communists burned untold numbers of Western books and writings in the Soviet Union, several American libraries burned the works of supposedly pro-Communist authors.
Book burning was a Nazi tool in Germany when they burned famous works by Ernest Hemingway, H.G. Wells, Helen Keller, and other less well-known authors who had pro-Western ideas.

All we need to do is read Fahrenheit 451 or watch its 2018 film adaptation to see where this leads. Once local governments can regulate what their citizens can read, it won’t be long until that idea spreads to larger government.

Books that teach about different ideas and lifestyles educate students about the world they will someday live and govern. They give a well-rounded view that allows each person to develop his or her own ideas, and isn’t that what the concept of a free society is all about? Groups that try to limit that must remember the U.S. deliberately did not form a “national organized religion” like England or Italy. Here, morality and faith are taught by parents and in houses of worship, and history and critical thinking is taught in schools.

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