BOMB CANADA: THE CASE FOR WAR. Canada’s bans on children’s classics reveals the authoritarianism behind woke censorship.
Ronald Reagan famously said the most terrifying sentence in the English language was “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Maybe that’s why, anytime I hear the word “ministry” — that is, when it refers to a government department rather than a religious congregation — my hackles raise, both as a person and as an artist. So, when I read that the Ontario Ministry of Education has issued a “decree,” I knew it was going to be yet another example of soulless bureaucracy invading creativity and freedom. And indeed it was.
As reported in the Post Millennial, the Ontario Ministry of Education has decided that “all books available to students are [to be] inclusive” and in line with the notion of “equity.” The Peel District School Board took this to their dark, bureaucratic heart, and decided to remove books such as The Diary of Anne Frank, the Harry Potter series, and — quelle horreur — Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s probably useless to ask why Carle’s classic and beloved children’s book would be one of the choices. Perhaps the caterpillar’s eating habits, which lead him to become rather big, encourage fat-shaming.
After the various complaints as well as criticism from Ontario Education Minister, the Peel District School Board reversed the decision, but refused to accept any culpability. After all, they were just following orders as laid out by the Ontario Ministry of Education. And to be fair, given how vague the guidelines were, maybe the librarians shouldn’t be blamed. They were instructed to sift through all of the books published prior to 2008, and determine if there was anything offensive or unpleasant in them, based on an ideology that is deliberately constructed to find everything offensive.
You went full Fahrenheit 451, Ontario. Never go full Fahrenheit 451:
“You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred. Ask yourself, What do we want in this country above all? People want to be happy, isn’t that right?…Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo. Burn it. White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Burn it. Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs? The cigarette people are weeping? Burn the book. Serenity, Montag. Peace, Montag. Take your fight outside. Better yet, to the incinerator.”
—Captain Beatty, fireman Guy Montag’s boss, in Ray Bradbury’s 1953 dystopian novel, Fahrenheit 451, 1953.
As Ryan Holiday noted in a 2015 New York Observer article titled “The Real Reason We Need to Stop Trying to Protect Everyone’s Feelings,” “In the 50th anniversary edition, Bradbury includes a short afterword where he gives his thoughts on current culture. Almost as if he is speaking directly about the events above, he wrote: ‘There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.’”
(Classical reference in headline.)