OK, I admit: I have not read them, but millions of others have. The much-loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie novels are under attack by the PC censorship brigade. The books are deemed to be racist and bigoted, and must now be censored and added to the list of verboten literature.
Of course these books and others have been under attack for decades now as the PC brigade gets more and more brazen and irrational. These novels are said to portray blacks and Indians in a bad light, and therefore must be rejected. As an example, the Association of Library Service to Children recently voted to rename the ‘Laura Ingalls Wilder Award’ to the ‘Children’s Literature Legacy Award’.
Good grief. My wife, who has read some of the books, and seen the television series, and is a voracious fiction reader, scoffed when I told her about all this:
What rubbish. People today are imposing their values on another time and place, deliberately disregarding how people thought back then. That is ridiculous. By today’s PC standards, most of the great writers of the past would be accused of being racist or sexist or anti-Semitic, etc, be it Shakespeare or Dickens or Austen.
They were all brilliant writers. Some content in their works might be called sexist or racist by today’s standards, but it does not mean we are at liberty to erase that content. Judging historical works by today’s standards is arrogant – and poor scholarship. Works from different times and cultures should be judged with an understanding of those times and cultures, rather than with a narcissistic disregard of anything except the current politically correct point of view.
She mentioned some other classic volumes that then should also be banned or censored. I told her that many of them already have been! She was not alone in expressing outrage at all this silly nonsense and patent PC foolishness. Plenty of others have weighed in on this.
Let me run with a few other bits of commentary here. I begin with Karol Markowicz. She begins:
Should writers who wrote long ago, describing life in the past, be held to 21st century standards of political correctness? The question has arisen many times – most recently about Laura Ingalls Wilder, who was born in 1867 and died in 1957. She is best known for writing the “Little House on the Prairie” children’s books, which became the basis for a popular TV series that aired in the 1970s and 80s.
And she concludes: “If we continue to impose our modern-day sensibilities on historical figures we’ll eventually fail to celebrate any of them. No one will be woke enough; everyone will need to be erased. Laura Ingalls Wilder is just the latest to go.”
Yes, the list will be never ending. As Thomas Williams writes:
Based on these anachronistic criteria, any author writing prior to the 1960s would be ineligible to be looked to as a literary exemplar. Or as Michael Taube noted in the Wall Street Journal Thursday, “If we judge past luminaries by today’s standards, who’s next to go?” Wilder, in fact, is just the latest literary casualty to fall prey to the PC thought police and joins the ranks of American greats such as Mark Twain and Harper Lee, who have had their books banned from student libraries for their “dated cultural attitudes” and “offensive” ideas.
Holly Scheer has also weighed in on this. She writes:
Her writing about her life, her feelings, and those of her parents and siblings in the 1800s are being judged against the views that people hold today. Fans of Wilder and her work aren’t defending racism. The outcry over removing her name and legacy isn’t one of cheering on racism, but rather one of recognizing the talent and legacy of a female American author. Wilder’s books capture the breathless American exceptionalism so lacking in current culture….
For many kids, the Little House series is also one of their first introductions into the personal life of someone with a disability. Laura’s older sister Mary goes blind in “By the Shores of Silver Lake.” This fundamentally changes not just Mary’s life, but that of Laura and the whole family. She learns compassion, and takes on her sister’s role, and works hard to save money to help send her sister to a special school so she can succeed as a blind person in the 1800s.
Debra McDonald Birzer said this:
The ALSC’s renaming of the Wilder medal to the Children’s Literature Legacy Award erases the fundamental role Wilder played in creating the genre of juvenile fiction. Wilder’s work and its lasting impact on every generation of children since the publication of Little House in the Big Woods (1932) served as the impetus for the establishment of the award. It would be more honest for the ALSC to just scrap the award altogether and start afresh. The stated “core values” are vague enough to allow the group to take this award in any direction the wind happens to be blowing. What is “responsiveness” in children’s literature, anyway? Responsiveness to what? And just who is included when “inclusivity” is touted as a core value? Whatever happened to children’s literature that told good stories that sparked children’s curiosity about history? Wilder’s books have certainly done this and more, inspiring a multitude of related works, both fiction and non-fiction.
She looks at the brave new world implications of all this and then concludes:
The rejection of the author and the rejection of her semi-autobiographical novels produce the same result: In favor of safe spaces and trigger-free zones, this country’s professional librarians seek to destroy the literary heroine that millions of American girls (and boys) identified with and aspired to emulate. In doing so, they seek to destroy us all and re-make us in their own image, based on their core values of inclusivity and responsiveness, rounded out by respect (properly placed, of course) and their version of integrity. Join me in being naughty on the inside (one of my favorite aspects of young Laura’s character) by refusing to accept the Association of Library Services to Children’s version of Laura Ingalls Wilder. We know better.
Alice Lloyd said this: “Wilder’s greatest offense against modern sensibilities is less personal. The reality of the world the Little House books depicted in such clear and vivid prose was too cruel for the political tastes of today’s librarians. Which is a shame, because it was an honest representation of Wilder’s world—the American frontier West—and Wilder’s world helped make ours.”
Thankfully I and my wife are not alone in being shocked by the mindless PC stupidity that is taking place here. Plenty of others are rightly concerned about the dumbing down of our culture and the increased censorship and straightjacketing of our society.
Today it is Wilder. Tomorrow it will be CultureWatch or FoxNews or even the Bible. Welcome to the endgame of political correctness.