Thursday, November 3, 2016

Scholastic Totalitarianism

From Crisis:
Scholastic Books, for instance, is peddling some tens of thousands of copies of a book called George, about a little boy who knows that he is “really” a girl, and who finds a way to play Charlotte in his class’s production of Charlotte’s Web, so that everybody will finally know who he is—as the book’s subtitle has it, Be Who You Are. The author, one Alex Gino, a fat fellow with pink hair, refers to himself as “they” and begs to be addressed with the honorific “Mx.,” pronounced “Mix.” His aim is to inject his own dermatitis into the lives of small children: to confuse them, calling the confusion “diversity.” The School Library Journal is all gaga for the book, saying that “it is a required purchase for any collection that serves a middle grade population.”

Let us stop right here. Should we presume that the children have already read all the real books that they can handle at their age? They have already read The Jungle Book, The Call of the Wild, The Last of the Mohicans, Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Black Beauty, The Yearling, The Wind in the Willows, Peter Pan, The Once and Future King, Ivanhoe, Silas Marner, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield, so that they can now go on to greater things—to a silly and noxious little book about sexual confusion, written by a man who cannot decide whether he is a man or a woman, or even whether he is one person or two? And this is a required purchase? Such urgency! The poetry of John Milton, apparently, is not a required purchase or a required anything, because a search of School Library Journal reveals no interest whatsoever in that greatest of English poems, Paradise Lost, except for somebody who is interested in angels. Not to worry: it is not interest in the incorporeal messengers of God, but in the flighty spiritual thingies that people really really might be, subcutaneously, as it were.

My mind returns to that couple and their sons. No one would ever say, “It is absurd to suppose that parents would go out of their way to buy a boy a copy of The Call of the Wild.” That is exactly the sort of thing that parents who are themselves readers of literature would do. The very sentence makes no sense. It is like saying that parents would not go out of their way to take their son fishing. What is wrong about fishing? No one would ever say, “It is absurd to suppose that a parent would read The Wind in the Willows to his small son.” Of course he would—several generations of parents have done so. Why on earth not? (Read more.)

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