CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Little House on the PC Prairie

Jul 8, 2018

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.”
www.foxnews.com/opinion/2018/06/27/do-have-to-erase-name-laura-ingalls-wilder-to-fix-history-and-who-will-be-next.html

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.
www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/07/06/library-association-rejects-laura-ingalls-wilder-political-incorrectness/

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.
thefederalist.com/2018/06/27/scrubbing-laura-ingalls-wilder-is-a-dangerous-step-toward-ignorance/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

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.
www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/laura-ingalls-wilder-alsc-award-removal/

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.”
www.weeklystandard.com/alice-b-lloyd/laura-ingalls-wilder-v-the-librarians

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.

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12 Responses to Little House on the PC Prairie

  • I’ve read the whole series and absolutely loved them for their solid heart-warming traditional family values, meeting adversity and faith in God. Heaven help us if the PC brigade win.

  • So now Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books are deemed to be ‘politically incorrect’? Obviously that means most of the classics from the 20th Century are also unsuitable. And yet these teen/adult novels were in a class of their own, not to be compared with the p/c rubbish that is now available! Mary Grant Bruce, Louisa May Alcott, L.M. Montgomery, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens really knew how to tell a story that had all the ingredients of a successful novel: Appealing characters, the odd villain, suspense, a compelling story, and a believable setting were ingredients that did much to ensure success. And autobiographies such as ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ by Anne Frank made the world a richer place. It could be said that, according to today’s insistence on ‘political correctness’, none of the abovementioned novels would escape censorship – and yet, without them, the world would be all the poorer. Perhaps we need to start libraries of censored books, to ensure their protection for posterity!!

  • I’m just glad I have read a lot of these books they are targeting, I enjoyed every page of them and my life is the richer for it!

  • Dear Bill, Why should the ‘thought police’ have free run to ride roughshod over the West in imposing their views on all of us and our children today? A nefarious abuse of everyone, especially our young people! Our local council libraries hold copies of the Koran but no copy of the Bible, and they shun conservative authors and their work. However they did eventually buy in an excellent conservative work when we requested it – and all residents in the shire may now be enriched through reading it. For a long time this book request was ignored, until we challenged the library’s bullying position of being ‘thought police’ – and then it was quickly purchased by their book purchaser.
    Please let’s all be courageous, as Bill is, in not just rolling over to the relentlessly determined destructive march of cultural marxism.

  • Bill, maybe the ‘librarians’ can conduct public bonfires, burning all the verboten books.
    They could celebrate it on May 10 to commemorate the 1933 burnings and to be PC accurate they could call it ‘gleichschaltung.’

    They could even hold a rally in Nuremberg every year, called the ‘Joseph Goebbels rally for cultural improvement.’

    I assume they have some predetermined standard, a list by which ALL books can be measured as permitted or banned?

  • “Today’s standards” will someday also be rightly recognized as highly bigoted, sexist and racist. Those traits are symptoms of human fallenness, a moral condition which no amount of uber-progressive Progress can cure.

  • When you read books written in a different era from your own, you soon notice two things:
    (1) People in the past had different views and priorities from ours, and
    (2) nevertheless, some things never change.

  • No doubt a prelude to the attack on the Holy Bible as it could be seen as the ‘Gold medal’ of the Politically incorrect book of all time especially when it condemns the act of homosexuality, adultery, bestiality and the dishonour of ones parents parents to death.
    How can the lewd and corrupt which, is most of society, ever rest in peace while the Holy Bible openly condemns them to death and when we believe that God has inspired or set about the written word of the Holy Bible then God himself becomes politically incorrect.
    Where is all this going? God, the Bible, the Christ and his Church must be erased into non existence.
    What will stop them from so erasing? True Christians and true followers of God’s word must set about to explain that the Word of God and the Holy Bible/scripture is not written to attack but to inform, protect and correct and it is for each Christian or follower to first set about to understand the message and then become the messenger at whatever cost, effort or sacrifice for that is the true meaning of Christianity.
    The holy church did not grow because it is weak but because it was strong strong and recently that has been somewhat diluted for fear of being politically incorrect. We are not here to win a popularity contest as the Christ did not set out to win a popularity contest but to challenge each and every wrong without fear or favour. True that the Christ was crucified for his efforts but that was to give us an example of what God expects from each of us to sacrifice at whatever end to stand firm to God’s edicts as he stated to Moses: “if you do not do my edicts I will turn my face from you”.
    With all this, I now ask that those who want to be politically correct please raise your hand and let God know who you are.
    John Abbott

  • Hi Bill,

    I have not read any of the books, but our family has almost all the Little House on the Prairie TV series on DVD (10 seasons). It is a wonderful show depicting family life with good old fashioned values. There is actually an episode I remember that denounces racism. It starred Louis Gossett Jr.

    The 1970s (and 80s) Dukes of Hazzard TV series has had the same fate because of the confederate flag painted on the roof of their 1969 Dodge Charger.

    Bill, on another different note (or maybe not ), I just read that Lauren Southern has been denied entry to Australia by the Turnbull Government.

  • The books such “book banners” will be championing will be about such luminaries as transgender children, LGBTIQetc teenagers and clever cross-dressers. These are the qualities they laud in society rather than those of Wilder’s culture.

  • Joyce Mitchell, the 3 things you’ve mentioned above are ALL shunned by today’s modern society.

    Traditional Family Values – what are they?

    Meeting Adversity – we must protect NOT allow our children to hear The Truth or experience natural consequences of bad decisions/behaviour?

    Faith in God – which God or who is He?

    Probably read and re-read the series a least 2 dozen times…..keep your hard copies – they will be hard to find one day soon…..

  • The absurdity of this “political correctness” has arisen in the United States in various forms. Most tragically it has been expressed through the destruction of all Civil War monuments that depict the Confederate side (1) because the Confederate side lost the war and (2) because remembrance of the Civil War has made African-Americans think about the slavery that is part of their heritage. The fact of the matter is that overly sensitive people simply cannot accept the truth in any situation or the truth about any past era. Such people need to wake up to reality and admit unfortunate things have happened throughout history, and they need to realize that both sides of an issue have a right to express themselves and be represented.

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