To make sure I don’t always exist inside of my own bubble 24/7, I do try to tune into 50+-year-old white people news, erm, I mean … conservative media … at least once a day. Ninenty-nine out of 100 times I glance through the headlines, perhaps start reading an article, and then finally ‘X’ it out with my blood boiling.
Mostly, it’s not even to balance my views. I’m an independent thinker and I don’t need to manufacture balance. If anyone has something interesting to say, I’ll consider it, and store it away somewhere in my brain for future use. Rather, I visit conservative media so I’m prepared if I ever find myself in a debate with someone and they catch me off guard by bringing up whatever the latest conspiracy theory that’s floating around.
But conservative media is rarely interesting. Instead, they’re more intent on criticizing the “radical left” and amplifying cultural wars because they know that’s what their readers want to hear. For white people who wish to maintain the status quo, reading coded racism as opposed to having to say it out loud and explicity being racist is their version of watching porn.
In all seriousness, if I do want an articulate conservative viewpoint on an issue, I usally read Wall Street Journal Op-Eds. I rarely agree with them, but they always at least make their arguments substantive.
Anyway, a talking point I’m hearing more and more on the conservative side is comparing protestors tearing down statues to Nazi book burning.
First of all, book burning in the ’30s and ’40s was an effective means of erasing history because there were fewer options at the time to educate oneself.
Now, we have the Internet. So if someone truly was engaging in 21st century “book burning,” they’d not only have to burn books, but would have to delete every educational website in the world. Information is ubiquitous. Not even the most narcissistic person thinks they have the ability to rewrite history.
Wikipedia literally eradicated book burning.
Also, introduce me to a single person who actuaally relies on statues for information? Even I’m a history buff and I get bored within seconds of reading a plaque. If you’re not someone who goes to a historical site with good intentions, only to become bored within five minutes, make an Instagram post to show the world how cultured you are, and then start looking up the nearest neighborhood dive bar on Google Maps, then we probably won’t be friends.
Secondly, removing statues isn’t like killing Lord Voldemort’s horcruxes. Killing them all doesn’t erase the originator. Removing a statue of George Washington does not suddenly mean George Washington wasn’t our first president and that he never existed.
However if that was true, it’s a horrifying thought that Harry Potter probably couldn’t even accomplish that if he tried. Who would’ve thought that hordes of angry white conservatives oversealously expressing their second amendment rights would be more daunting than the dark-arts-wielding Death Eaters?
As I wrote last week, there’s a stark difference between rewriting and reframing history. Of the hundreds of George Washington statues that exist in this country, who can argue that replacing a bunch of them with underrepresented figures in our history is a bad thing?
If the goal is to expand people’s horizons so they can gain new perspectives on our history, isn’t that the total opposite of book burning?
Also, let’s stop pretending that conservatives read. I’m sure they all own the Bible, but the idea that they’ve kicked off their shoes on a lazy afternoon and took on Dickens, Tolstoy or heck, even Dan Brown, is quite laughable.
That being said, I’m sure Dan Brown would be quite OK if we burned all the books he’s written post Angels and Demons and Da Vinci Code.