There’s nothing quite as intellectually eye-opening as the puritanical, self-righteous virtue-signaling of a contemporary collectivist.
Except, perhaps, when said virtue-signaling is tied to the blindly prejudicial tendency of collectivists to infuse every nuance of life with “identity politics,” subsuming individual thought and expression -- even individual preference -- beneath postmodernist assignations of group identity, group characteristics, and multi-generational racial or “systemic” guilt.
So, on this ridgeline of prejudicial precipices, it’s not a surprise to see that one of the most concentrated redoubts of self-righteous collectivism, identity politics, and Cultural Marxism, the famously fatuous National Public Radio, just lifted its rocky shoulders above the rest and used tax-supported speech to tell white Americans (and white males over 40, in particular) they should purge their bookshelves of “Wrongthink.”
Yes. It’s book-burning by another name, and it’s brought to you by the government-subsidized NPR. Here’s a sample, as long as you’re still allowed to read it:
You may have seen the phrase ‘decolonize your bookshelf’ floating around. In essence, it is about actively resisting and casting aside the colonialist ideas of narrative, storytelling, and literature that have pervaded the American psyche for so long.
Which, of course, offers a mightily presumptuous foundation: that “colonialist ideas of narrative, storytelling, and literature have pervaded the American psyche for so long.” How long, one can’t be sure, because this is one of those prejudicial throwaway lines that, it seems, that many collectivists just assume to be true, and don’t define or explicate.
The NPR author, Juan Vidal, doesn’t explore things like Aristotle’s Poetics, nor divine the “colonialist” formulae somehow hidden therein by the Athenian philosopher. Nor does he look at the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh, or Hindu legends, or Asian myths, or Norse, or African, or Hebrew (technically non-white), or American Indian folklore, that, somehow, conform to the same pattern of narrative structure and storytelling as many of the most popular, most enduring creations in Western Literature or even popular fiction.
No. He seems to have his own narrative to project.
If you are white, take a moment to examine your bookshelf. What do you see? What books and authors have you allowed to influence your worldview, and how you process the issues of racism and prejudice toward the disenfranchised?
Who are the “disenfranchised”? What is this “prejudice”? Is he not guilty of prejudging people, as well? After all, prejudgment is the clockwork ticking in the twin timebombs of identity politics and unwarranted shaming that leftists so often employ to gain political power.
Have you considered that, if you identify as white and read only the work of white authors, you are in some ways listening to an extension of your own voice on repeat? While the details and depth of experience may differ, white voices have dominated what has been considered canon for eons. That means non-white readers have had to process stories and historical events through a white author's lens. The problem goes deeper than that, anyway, considering that even now 76% of publishing professionals — the people you might call the gatekeepers — are white.
Of course, what Mr. Vidal doesn’t bother to mention is that the vast, vast, vast, vaaasssssst majority of those “white” people are…
We’re talking nearly 80 percent, and that’s just the traditional publishing market.
As Alison Flood, of The Guardian (not exactly a bastion of right-wing conservatism), writes:
A survey of American publishing has found that it is blindingly white and female, with 79% of staff white and 78% women.
But Mr. Vidal doesn’t seem concerned with women dominating the publishing gateways of the old houses. And he certainly doesn’t ask why a “colonial narrative tradition” that somehow reflects “whiteness” -- and, one can infer, racism, sexism, and the “evil” capitalist structure that has “kept the disenfranchised down” for, as he so precisely writes, “so long” – possibly could see females (and how DARE The Guardian ASSUME GENDER!) completely dominate the halls of the big publishers.
Curiously he also doesn’t bother to mention that females dominate self-publishing as well. But, once more, that bastion of conservatism, The Guardian, offers us a journalist who actually bothers to report the information. Writes Maggie Brown:
Alison Baverstock, an associate professor in publishing at Kingston University, Surrey, said her research showed a clear gender split, with 65% of self-publishers being women and 35% men.
But staring at these superficial numbers is, in a way, to buy into Vidal’s nonsensical leftist nursery rhyme that, somehow, reader preferences and market popularity are driven by “colonialism” and other prejudicial labels he can assign to some group that happens to be the preferred leftist target of the year.
It turns out, individuals in a market who are free to show what they like end up doing so, and sellers can find all kinds of niches to prosper.
For twenty years, I spent spare time working at a bookstore, a store that saw, as my employer informed me when training me, at least 75 percent of sales coming from romance novels, and females comprised almost all buyers of said product.
Strangely, dear Mr. Vidal, of the all the romance genres, including Historical, Contemporary, Urban, Paranormal, and Romantic Suspense, there was only one – ONE – male author whose work was on those shelves. His name was Leigh Greenwood, he wrote Western Historical Romances, and many women didn’t know he was male.
Should bookstores have “purged” their shelves of the women to somehow create a balance of male and female authors? Or should the readers have been left the hell alone and not been accused of being sexist or prejudiced against men?
Likewise, one of the best horror/suspense/sci-fi authors I know – a multi-winner of the Bram Stoker Award -- put together an anthology a few years ago, and he said he would (as most editors do) strip names from the story submissions and judge them by their merit.
Can’t have that. Leftist social-justice-warriors swarmed over him like fire ants, telling him there had to be “better representation of women,” and, of course, telling him that, as a man, he had “ingrained biases.”
But that prejudges a man, eliminating his own identity as an individual.
How about they let him do whatever the heck he wants and then let readers do whatever the heck they want and leave people alone without accusing them of “inherent racism” or “unrecognized privilege”, especially when the leftist magistrates don’t know the first thing about an individual's background or the interests of readers?
As actor Morgan Freeman has noted more than once, at a certain indefinable point, media and political obsession with race and identity politics ends up fueling racial divides, magnifying problems, and making them easy pickings for race-baiters and opportunists of every kind. At a certain point, folks might want to pull back and see whether areas of life that people like NPR’s Vidal claim are reflections of “colonialism” and dominant “white male” invasion actually can be set aside and not used as ammo in racial politics.
And while they’re at it, they might want to ask NPR’s editors how they can look themselves in the mirror as publishers of this “colonialism” drivel, when it is NPR itself that colonizes American airwaves and invades our wallets every year, as an essential part of its tax-fueled, propaganda-filled existence.