A year or so ago when a mother from Georgia tried to get Gwinnett County schools to remove Harry Potter books from their shelves because they were an “‘evil’ attempt to indoctrinate children in the Wicca religion,” she became a national laughingstock.
Book banning has a nasty connotation for many, as it evokes images of Nazi book burnings as that party came to power in the 1930s. It’s one thing for a parent to guide her child’s reading choices; it’s another thing entirely when she attempts to keep a book she disapproves of out of the hands of everyone else.
Part of the reason the would-be book banner in Georgia was ridiculed was that she is a Christian. Christians are on the short list of groups that one can still openly mock and treat with derision. Why? My guess it’s because Christians, while they may make their voices heard when something (like the Harry Potter series) clashes with their belief system, limit their weapons to exactly that – their voices are all they use. When an outrageous insult toward Christians is perpetrated in the name of art or literature, there is no violence, no rioting in the streets, no threats to make those who insult Christianity pay.
Which brings us to the tale of an updated version of The Three Little Pigs, one of the most beloved children’s stories in Western culture, being turned down for an award in Britain. It wasn’t rejected because the digital re-telling of this classic tale wasn’t necessarily worthy of winning the prize. Rather, the government education agency that is a leading partner for the annual Bett Award gave it the heave-ho because “the use of pigs raises cultural issues.” They did this despite the fact that no Muslims had complained about the book beforehand.
(Interestingly, they also said “no” to a story entitled The Three Little Cowboy Builders because construction workers might take offense. No construction workers had complained about this book either.)
This is government-speak for C.Y.A. – or in this case, K.Y.H. (keep your head).
Taking the high road to sensitivity may make these culture judges feel good about themselves. But when the self-proclaimed gatekeepers of Western civilization bow and scrape to keep from “offending” every Johnny-come-lately who makes demands of the native population regarding tradition and values – and even when they don’t – what exactly is there to recommend said Western culture? Banks in Britain have already stopped handing out piggy banks to children who open savings accounts, and some British schools are not teaching students about the Holocaust because some in their Muslim population are taking the line from Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and claiming the Holocaust never happened.
Better to ignore history than to offend a handful of Holocaust deniers.
There is good news, however: there is officially no more Islamic terrorism in Britain. The official line is that it’s “anti-Islamic activity,” because bombing trains, planes, and automobiles in the name of Islam isn’t really Islamic. As Mark Steyn so eloquently put it:
Killing thousands of people in Manhattan skyscrapers in the name of Islam does, among a certain narrow-minded type of person, give Islam a bad name, and thus could be said to be “anti-Islamic” – in the same way that the Luftwaffe raining down death and destruction on Londoners during the Blitz was an “anti-German activity.” But I don’t recall even Neville Chamberlain explaining, as if to a five-year-old, that there is nothing German about the wish to terrorize and invade, and that this is entirely at odds with the core German values of sitting around eating huge sausages in beer gardens while wearing lederhosen.
Here in America, we haven’t gotten quite to the point of dumping on books about cute little piggies trying to keep from being eaten by the Big Bad Wolf. However, there have been cases reported of Muslim employees at Target refusing to ring up customers’ bacon and pepperoni pizzas, and Muslim cab drivers wanting to be allowed to refuse service to fares who might be carrying a six-pack or have a Seeing Eye dog.
Last year, when a British schoolteacher was threatened with death in Sudan for allowing her young students to name their class teddy bear Mohammed, the brain trust on ABC’s The View blamed the teacher for not knowing the rules and customs of the country. I wonder if they would say the same about Muslims who come to the U.S. and take jobs at supermarkets where customers purchase pork products and beer… or if they were denied a ride in a cab because they happened to be carrying a bottle of wine.
It would be fascinating to see someone like The View’s Joy Behar try to cope with the rules and customs an Islamic country such as Saudi Arabia. I doubt this outspoken (to put it mildly) woman would be welcome with open arms in a country where men rule and women do their bidding in burqas. It’d make a great Lifetime movie of the week: Behar Behind the Burqa: A Portrait of Courage.
Bending over backwards to keep from offending certain groups of people doesn’t appease them. They begin to feel entitled and start demanding more, like the ACLU, Greenpeace, and the Anti-Smoking league. Sure, condemning a book about fictional pigs isn’t such a big deal… until the books are banned outright because sensitive eyes might see them… or pork is banned from restaurants because some customers may feel offended by its presence on the menu… or pork is banned from supermarkets because seeing it in the refrigerated case causes the vapors – putting hog farmers out of business and depriving food lovers everywhere of bacon, sausage, ham, and other tasty morsels.
Silly, you say? Maybe. But remember the frog-in-water analogy: if you try to put a frog into a pot of hot water, it will jump out; if you put a frog in cool water and heat it slowly, the frog won’t jump out because it won’t notice what’s happening until it’s too late.
Western culture is responsible for a great many good things in the world, including art, science, and modern medicine. It’s a sad day indeed when we choose to bury its legacy – even its children’s stories – in the name of sensitivity.
“Not by the hair of my chinny-chin-chin.” Now that’s a fairy tale.