Monday, August 23, 2010

Burning Books Instead of Reading Them

In one of the low moments of our current interval of xenophobic exhuberance, it seems that a church in Florida is planning to reinstitute a centuries-old tradition of small-minded people throughout the ages: burning books they don't like.

In 1821, the writer Heinrich Heine wrote: "Where they burn books, they will end in burning human beings." We regard the Nazi book-burning rituals with horror: one of my favorite lines from the last Indiana Jones movie has Sean Connery telling one of the evil Nazis that "goose-stepping morons like yourself should try reading books instead of burning them". And Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451 gave us a vision of a futuristic society where the authorities institutionalized the practice of burning books they deemed unfit to read. I find it depressing that in the 21st Century America---the Land of Liberty and home of the First Amendment---we are facing the prospect of another round of book-burning.

JEFFREY CAMINSKY, a retired public prosecutor from Michigan, writes on a wide range of topics. His books include the science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the exciting second volume in the Guardians of Peace-tm series, The Sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the acclaimed Referee’s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating. All are published by New Alexandria Press, and are available on Amazon, as well as directly from the publisher.