BURTON BEYOND

A Day at the Library

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by Judd Burton

Some experiences in life require immediate recording.  There is simply no moral justification for evading a narrative sketch of some inescapable moments in one’s life.  I take note of the small things that are detrimental to American society…the unnatural forces that erode the bedrock of all that is good and right.  As a society, we aren’t necessarily burning books……yet.

 

 I visited a high school library library recently and decided to look in the card catalog.  The name of the library is inconsequential.  With great horror, I noted some disturbing things.  There are some fairly quintessential works missing from the library.  Prepare yourself....you won't find any works by Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle.  You will not find the orations of Cicero.  Absent also are the works of Karl Marx and Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf).  You will not find Democarcy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville (a frequently cited work on American society).  You will not find Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, the defining work on capitalism and free market economy.  You will not find the Anti-Federalist Papers, which spoke out against creating a wealthy ruling elite in America's infancy (but you will find the Federalist Papers, which did creating a wealthy ruling elite in America).  None of the works of C.S. Lewis are in the library...not even the Chronicles of Narnia (but you will find every Harry Potter book).  Absent is Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, and The Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad.  One will not find The Prince by Machiavelli, or The Art of War by Sun Tzu.  You are able to find four of Mark Twain's novels, but none of his political or satirical writings.  Don't look for John Locke's works--they're not there either. 

 

You WILL find....books on Imperialism and Progresss, books on Julius Caesar, Attilla the Hun, Alexander the Great, and Nero.  There are plenty of books about doctor assisted suicide.  Thirty two books are available on crime.  A staggering and, dare I say, disproportionate 530 books on war are available for consumption.  Thirty five Stephen King novels.....books on feminism.....Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care Book....books on and by Alexander Hamilton (including the aforementioned Federalist Papers), who supported the creation of an aristocracy in America and wanted to install a President for life.

 

From my little glance I have concluded two things:

 

1)  This library has few or none of the books that teach psychology of your opponent, equality, economics, justice, reason, fair government, democracy, rhetoric and eloquence, imagination, compassion, the truth about American history, conduct in war, honor, wit, humor, responsibility, appreciation for artistry, and the human condition.

 

2)  The library DOES offer books that teach elitism, imperialism, conquest, unequal distribution of wealth, not disciplining children, unoriginality, idiopathy and corrupt medicine, warmongering, exploitation, oppression, that the family is not uniform or important, debauchery, and the glorification of death.

 

I sit and wonder how characteristic this little slice is of the high school library system as a whole.

 

EPILOGUE

 

I have been back to this library a few times since my initial visit, just to keep tabs.  I report with no small amount of sadness that there have been a substantial number of shelves removed from the main stacks.  Books have been removed, but I see no replacements.  In place of the shelves is a large, comfortable sectional couch and coffee table.  Entire volumes gone, either given away, sold, or destroyed.  How close are we to living in an Orwellian reality when school libraries discard books with such abandon, replacing their space with comfort?

 

 

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