Cancel Culture and Book Burnings

We have NOT learned the lessons of history:

Censorship is now alive and well in the West. Whether it involves refusing or shouting down unpopular speakers at college campuses, or banning or shadow-banning unwanted content on the social media, it is now everywhere to be found. And guess who are the main ones being targeted here?

I happen to have my books for sale on places like Amazon. Although you can find them there today, there is no guarantee that they will still be there tomorrow. That is because Cancel Culture is running amok, especially among our Tech Giants and Woke Corporations.

We used to have to worry about Big Government when dealing with ugly censorship. Now we have a whole range of other bodies also to be alarmed about, be they universities, the mainstream media, or other mega-groups that now control the flow of information.

The Tech Giants are certainly among the worst of the lot here. Whether Facebook or Google or YouTube or Pinterest or Twitter, they have all decided to become hardcore censors, keeping the public from seeing, hearing or reading anything they deem to be unacceptable.

This morning for example when I opened my Facebook page, I found not one but SIX of these messages: “We removed a post you liked that had false, potentially harmful information about COVID-19.” Um, let me translate that for you: “We are just like the Fascists of old, and we are now into high-tech book burning. Anything that we disagree with will be removed. Only secular left propaganda is now acceptable.”

Of course the Rona is just one area where they are ramping up censorship. Anything from climate alarmism, to sexuality, to politics, to history, to race, to culture, to whatever – it is all now the subject of strict censorship. And when these groups have near monopoly powers, then we really are living in a dictatorship run by the leftist elites.

You dare not speak truth on any hot potato issue today or you WILL be shut down and silenced. Conservatives and Christians are of course the number one targets in all this. Your chances of freely sharing truth on these platforms are shrinking rapidly.

As but one example, I mentioned recently how Amazon has just pulled one of the most important books so far on the trans revolution, Ryan Anderson’s When Harry Became Sally. Go ahead, try to find it there – it no longer exists. Those who dare to speak the truth about the trans tsunami – and about biology and reality – WILL be censored.

Lessons from Germany

All tyrants and dictators are especially keen to ban, censor or radically rewrite history. They know that if they can separate a people from their own past, they can much more easily control them. And to be unaware of history means you will be unaware of past censorship.

Consider the issue of book burnings. The Nazis were infamous for this of course. But as more and more Westerners grow up clueless about history – even recent history – that means they will not realise just how dangerous this current round of censorship is.

So let me speak more to this matter. The Holocaust Encyclopedia has a good article on book burning, so let me share some of it here. It begins:

Book burning has a long and dark history. Book burning refers to the ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials. Usually carried out in a public context, the burning of books represents an element of censorship and usually proceeds from a cultural, religious, or political opposition to the materials in question….

In 1933, Nazi German authorities aimed to synchronize professional and cultural organizations with Nazi ideology and policy (Gleichschaltung). Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, began an effort to bring German arts and culture in line with Nazi goals. The government purged cultural organizations of Jewish and other officials alleged to be politically suspect or who performed or created art works which Nazi ideologues labeled “degenerate.”

In an effort to synchronize the literary community, Goebbels had a strong ally in the National Socialist German Students’ Association (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, or NSDStB). German university students were among the vanguard of the early Nazi movement, and in the late 1920s, many filled the ranks of various Nazi formations. The ultra-nationalism and antisemitism of middle-class, secular student organizations had been intense and vocal for decades. After World War I, many students opposed the Weimar Republic (1919–1933) and found in National Socialism a suitable vehicle for their political discontent and hostility.

On April 6, 1933, the Nazi German Student Association’s Main Office for Press and Propaganda proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit,” to climax in a literary purge or “cleansing” (Säuberung) by fire. Local chapters were to supply the press with releases and commissioned articles, offer blacklists of “un-German” authors, sponsor well-known Nazi figures to speak at public gatherings, and negotiate for radio broadcast time.

The piece continues:

In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933, university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of “un-German” books, presaging an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in most university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators….

Not all book burnings took place on May 10, as the German Student Association had planned. Some were postponed a few days because of rain. Others, based on local chapter preference, took place on June 21, the summer solstice, a traditional date for bonfire celebrations in Germany.

Nonetheless, in 34 university towns across Germany the May 10th “Action against the Un-German Spirit” was a success, receiving widespread newspaper coverage. In some cities, notably Berlin, radio broadcasts brought the speeches, songs, and ceremonial chants “live” to countless German listeners. The promotion of “Aryan” culture and the suppression of other forms of artistic production was yet another Nazi effort to “purify” Germany.

Today we do not necessarily need large book burnings on city streets. The Tech Giants and others have all that covered. They can simply prevent people from reading or watching or listening to anything they do not want them to be exposed to. It is just as effective.

Beware of eBooks

Much more can be said about all these matters. But consider just one aspect of this: eBooks. They too are actually quite insecure, and the censors can target them just as easily – even more so. Let me quote from an article that appeared last year on this:

Have you bought an eBook of Coming Apart by Charles Murray? Or maybe you bought Gone with the Wind on some video streaming service. Perhaps you’ve paid for Hamilton, The Simpsons, or Shakespeare’s Othello in digital format. Are you ready for them all to disappear from your digital library for being problematic in the eyes of Amazon, Google, or Apple?

That’s a live question in a cancel culture where corporate America seems to be uniformly on the side of the left-wing culture warriors. It’s also a great reason for you to build up your real-life library of books, records, DVDs, CDs, newspapers, and other physical media.

HBO temporarily pulled Gone With the Wind from its streaming service. That’s not a huge deal, especially since they later put it back up. But it’s easy to see the early rise of a wave of cancellations in which Big Tech just erases problematic stories or songs or movies — or any work by problematic authors or creators.

If you tried to pay for the entire run of The Simpsons, you probably found that an episode with Michael Jackson was removed from the supposed complete works. One of the creators had an unsettling defense of that: “I’m against book burning of any kind. But this is our book, and we’re allowed to take out a chapter.”

Unfortunately, similar reasoning applies to the platform owners. Amazon, Google, Apple cannot come to your house and torch your CDs. But as long as you’re using their virtual bookshelf, they can remove chapters that clash with their worldview. YouTube regularly pulls videos for ideological violations or videos that clash with the proclamations of politicized and corrupted multinational entities. Amazon has made similar decisions.

It’s not far-fetched to imagine “your” digital content disappearing. Apple could just decide to erase that Poguessong for a bad word. Poof! Gone. Amazon could remove Mel Gibson works that you thought you owned. Certainly, any and all Charles Murray books could be canceled. Facebook is under immense pressure to take down content just because it’s too Trumpy. Twitter says it will pull down your tweets if you violate their ideological rules.

This is just one area in which we need to be very careful. The same new technologies that make for easy use of media and communication can also be used as instruments of fascist censorship. And this is already happening.

I have made this warning before: there may soon come a time when you look to see what is new on CultureWatch, but when you try to find it, you will discover it no longer exists. This is not alarmism: this is simply pointing out exactly where we are now heading.

Be afraid – be very afraid. Better yet, fight back now while you still have a chance.

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15 Replies to “Cancel Culture and Book Burnings”

  1. I can’t believe how much the world has changed in my 60 years – from my 6th Grade public school teacher praying with us every morning to the cancel culture we have today – Please keep us informed and educated Bill!

  2. If you buy ebooks from Amazon for your Kindle, they have the capability to remove any ebook in your Kindle even AFTER you have bought them.

    So, if you want to make sure your books don’t disappear in future, you should either buy physical books. Or if you are tech savvy, strip out the DRM in ebooks that you’ve already bought. Otherwise, you will not be in control of your own bookshelf.

  3. The Catholic Church did its fair share of book-burning in its day (along with some unfortunate authors as well). The ‘Index Librorum Prohibitorum’ was only abolished in 1966 because dear old Cardinal Ottaviani couldn’t keep up with the sheer volume of new stuff coming out.
    How quaint, almost gentlemanly, the Index seems compared to the iron-fisted-without a velvet glove- tactics of today’s BigTech companies. In view of Dr. Anderson’s book withdrawal by Amazon we don’t need to go to Red China to see how sanity and Faith are being denied to people.

  4. Thank you Bill, you have reinforced the fact that we need to learn from history. And that this Cancel Culture needs to be fought; we must not be complacent.

  5. I’m glad I never got into ebooks…I much prefer reading paper books and find it easier for my mind and eyes.. But I also felt something like this might happen one day – where books could suddenly vanish if owned only online.
    No suprise in a sense that Ryan’s book has had this happen. Once they changed marriage laws it was only a matter of time til they came for all who dissent from the gender craziness.

  6. If Fascistbook is being so problematic might something like MeWe be a better platform? I don’t use much social media but it seems like non-Leftists are tending to flee Twitter, FB etc.

    As regards ebook risks, while it is certainly true that relying on an Amazon copy of a book is a risk – they can and have removed books from accounts before, plus Amazon etc can edit the contents thereby changing what you have next time you update, it is possible to make backup (offline) copies e.g. for transfer by USB to an e-reader perhaps. I have also seen it claimed that it may be legal to print off your own copy – but that’s probably predicated on owning a digital copy whereas Kindle books are only rented (licensed) for you to read. And then there’s the issue of digital format shifting – using a non-Amazon e-library application, or shifting it to a non-Amazon format. The problem there is technically, even if you can get around the DRM (Digital Rights Management) it’s not legal for some arcane reason. Frankly you’d need to be a legal specialist to know the specifics of what you can and cannot do under current laws. Worse still, something may be fully legal in one country, but the moment you cross a border you may be a criminal. Physical books are certainly safer.

  7. Many thanks for your latest notes on cancel culture as applied to books that
    are not approved by the elitist promoters of politically correct thought. This
    is like the elitists not wanting ‘unpopular’ speakers at the university as you
    pointed out. The elitists don’t have the plain courtesy to tolerate speakers
    or books that promote alternative lines of thought, in direct contradiction
    to the notion of academic freedom, especially on campus.

    Going beyond your article, we consider the promotion of ‘halal’ food and
    the reluctance of the powers that be to discourage the proper labelling
    of foods certified by religious authorities (not just ‘halal’ food). A few
    years ago, there was an inquiry into the matter of ‘certifying’ food and
    related household items. Nothing has been done to follow up from
    that inquiry which attracted hundreds of submissions. Also, a website
    called Halal Choices used to exist. Is there an alternative website to use
    for the purpose of finding out what is labeled ‘halal’?

    Perhaps foods that are not ‘halal’ might be subject to a cancel culture
    in the future or simply become hard to find?

  8. One thing to consider on eBooks: stop using kindle, and use only PDF format for eBooks. I know that someday that format may disappear too, but I hope enterprising folks will figure out a conversion if it happens. Or I will just keep an old copy of adobe on my computers to run it. Rebuild your kindle libraries in PDF as fast as you can, particularly if it religious or political or economic in nature. I don’t know if history will fall too, but one never knows. This is persecution after all, so plan for the worst. And don’t forget, “Judgement begins at the House of God”, so take time to repent ‘for your people and for the Cities of God, and the Lord do that which seemeth Him good”

  9. Re: Randall & Converting to .pdf.

    I steer clear of .pdf files as and where I can as they’re a pain to use – limited usability, limited compatibility with what I have installed, and I suspect they’re not compatible with e-readers or e-library programs.

    While I appreciate the logic of converting Kindle libraries into other formats e.g. .pub, .rtf, .txt etc, you need the correct software\versions\plugins to do so. As mentioned in my previous post, it is technically illegal to bypass DRM – of course a lot of things are technically illegal, e.g. speeding, yet people do it anyway.

    Bill, I’m not sure you’ll want to post this on your site but since e-book conversion has come up again, the website provides tools and an explanation for how to deDRM Kindle books. I’m pretty sure this is against American law, with Australian law having adopted similar measures so feel free to consider this unsuitable material for publication on your website. 🙂

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