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A Smokeless Cathedral Burn

The left really is trying to destroy our civilizational heritage. You think I’m a Chicken Little about this stuff, but this below is what it means to have barbarians march through our institutions.

The Teaching And Learning Program Manager at MIT libraries, Sofia Leung (“I believe that social justice work is library work and that we should all be collectively engaged in our liberation”), has detected impurity in the stacks. She writes:

If you look at any United States library’s collection, especially those in higher education institutions, most of the collections (books, journals, archival papers, other media, etc.) are written by white dudes writing about white ideas, white things, or ideas, people, and things they stole from POC and then claimed as white property with all of the “rights to use and enjoyment of” that Harris describes in her article. When most of our collections filled with this so-called “knowledge,” it continues to validate only white voices and perspectives and erases the voices of people of color. Collections are representations of what librarians (or faculty) deem to be authoritative knowledge and as we know, this field and educational institutions, historically, and currently, have been sites of whiteness.

Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten and at the cost of black and brown lives. In the case of my current place of employment, the university definitely makes money off of the prison industrial complex and the spoils of war. Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we don’t care about what POC think, we don’t care to hear from POC themselves, we don’t consider POC to be scholars, we don’t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people. To return to the Harris quote from above, library collections and spaces have historically kept out Black, Indigenous, People of Color as they were meant to do and continue to do. One only has to look at the most recent incident at the library of my alma mater, Barnard College, where several security guards tried to kick out a Black Columbia student for being Black.

She hates old books because white people wrote them and loved them. That’s what it amounts to. This woman is not some SJW kook beavering away in the basement of  Evergreen State, or a dyspeptic grad student in Grievance Studies. She is an important librarian at MIT. What’s more, the venerable trade publication Library Journaltweeted her blog entry. The blog entry in which she calls for the purging of library collections because white people wrote them and loved them and collected them. Their existence offends her sense of justice.

Do you not see what’s happening here? Those who control a culture’s memory control its people. Sofia “Social Justice Work Is Library Work” Leung wants to throw certain books down the memory hole because they are racially impure. If this catches on, then some sane institutions stand to inherit some valuable books tossed out by woke universities … unless Sofia Leung Thought requires the burning of those whiteness grimoires so they can’t pollute the minds of others ever again.

Why can’t universities simply expand their collections to include books and documents from a greater diversity of writers, scholars, and artists? If Leung was calling for that, who could possibly object? Not me. But she’s not calling for that at all. She’s calling for getting rid of books and documents that incarnate “whiteness,” whatever the hell that is.

Meanwhile, at the University of Tulsa:

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So now they don’t even try to hide what they’re doing. Interestingly, according to this UTulsa professor, this may not be a straightforward leftist reformation, but something to do with Woke Capitalism.

Look: many of us have been grieved over the catastrophic fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, and what it might mean for the loss of irreplaceable cultural heritage (among other things). What the social justice academic left, and neoliberal bean counters in college administration, are doing is a smokeless cathedral burn of our civilization’s collective memory. This matters.

Now is the time to strengthen the educational institutions and libraries that stand against this Dark Age, and build new ones that do.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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