You Can’t Kill a Concept

The destruction of culture and history is running rampant in America.  We have Black Lives Matter and Antifa activists demanding the removal of statues, the renaming of streets, and, in fact, the very erasure of history. 

“Decolonize Your Bookshelf” has become popular.  Certain books are not being republished, and libraries are choosing not to stock them. Private citizens are being attacked for the books they have on their shelves. What is to become of these poor books that are no longer socially acceptable? They will end up on the fire.

Book burners and history deniers are rife in the distant and not-so-distant past. The idea that you can destroy a book and still be on the correct side of history shows the activists for what they really are: ignorant of history. Examining the past brings understanding. It is not less history that we need, but more. It is not fewer ties to the past that is required. It’s more.

You Can’t Kill a Concept.  Books are a reflection of a writer. Destroying a book is never enough to silence an idea.  Books are the messenger, not the message. So, what comes next?

We don’t need to guess to answer this question. We saw the answer in Nazi  Germany, in Warsaw, in Communist Russia. It’s only one step away. And if these closet fascists took the time to learn history, maybe they would not be so eager to begin the short journey down this dark path.

German university students were among the vanguard of the Nazi movement, and in the late 1920s, many filled the ranks of various Nazi groups. Middle-class, secular student organizations had expressed an intense and vocal ultra-nationalism and antisemitism for decades. After World War I, most students opposed the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and found in Nazism a suitable vehicle for their political discontent and hostility.

On April 6, 1933, the German Students Association’s Main Office for Press and Propaganda proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit,” to climax in a literary purge or “cleansing” (Säuberung) by fire.  On April 8, the students association drafted its twelve “theses” of declarations and requisites of a “pure” national language and culture.  

Placards publicized the students’ “theses,” which attacked “Jewish intellectualism,” asserted the need to “purify” the German language and literature, and demanded that universities be centers of German nationalism. The students described the proclaimed “action” as a response to a worldwide Jewish “smear campaign” against Germany and an affirmation of traditional German values.

On May 10, 1933, in a symbolic act of ominous significance, the students burned close to 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. That night, in most university towns, Nazi affiliated students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.”  Rituals scripted for the event called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. At the meeting places, students threw the pillaged and unwanted books into the bonfires with great joyous ceremony, band-playing, parades, songs, and “fire oaths.”

In some places, notably Berlin, radio broadcasts transmitted the speeches, songs, and ceremonial incantations live to countless German listeners:   “German men and women! The age of arrogant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end! . . . You are doing the right thing at this midnight hour—to consign to the flames the unclean spirit of the past. This is a great, powerful, and symbolic act. . . . Out of these ashes the phoenix of a new age will arise. . . . Oh Century! Oh Science! It is a joy to be alive!”  Joseph Goebbels

If the persistence in tearing down statues and destroying books continues, how long will it be before those who oppose this madness start playing by the same rules?  

Those who live by the sword die by the sword.  Karl Marx defended slavery; there goes the Communist Manifesto.  The Islamic prophet Mohammed kept slaves; isn’t the Quran a book of his words?  Gandhi considered blacks inferior.

This is an unwinnable war because you can’t use an eraser on select parts of history. The past must be accepted, learned from, and the people of today made stronger and more resilient by those lessons.

Source: Book Burning: Antifa and BLM Can’t Erase the History They Hate, Mark Angelides,  Liberty Nation; ‘AGAINST THE UN-GERMAN SPIRIT’, Modern History

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