December 1, 2005

Blaming Books

Wednesday June 01st 2005, 3:40 pm
Filed under: Right Watch

The conservative magazine Human Events recently ranked the “Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries.”

They put “The Communist Manifesto” at #1, and “Mein Kampf” at #2.

Terrible things happened under Lenin and Hitler.

But why blame these books?

The Russian Revolution would have happened if The Communist Manifesto hadn’t been published. The Nazis would have taken power if Mein Kampf hadn’t been published.

The Human Events article practically admits that the rise of the Nazis wasn’t dependent on Mein Kampf: “The book was originally ignored. But not after Hitler rose to power. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, there were 10 million copies in circulation by 1945.”

Regarding the rest of the conservative magazine’s list, Greg Saunders of This Modern World writes:

Some of the entries that follow (as well as the runners-up) are so outrageous you’d almost think it was a parody. For example :

The Kinsey Report — Alfred Kinsey

The Feminine Mystique — Betty Friedan

Beyond Good and Evil — Freidrich Nietzsche

General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money — John Maynard Keynes

The Population Bomb — Paul Ehrlich

On Liberty — John Stuart Mill

Origin of the Species — Charles Darwin

Unsafe at Any Speed — Ralph Nader

…The Greening of America — Charles Reich

I’d have a hard time condemning any book as “harmful”, but I can’t imagine a list like this that doesn’t even mention The Turner Diaries or The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. I’d think that the books most responsible for white-supremacist, militant extremism and the last century of anti-Semitic strife respectively would get at least one nomination, but I guess the guys at Human Events have different ideas about what’s considered “harmful”.

The Turner Diaries is a novel which inspired Timothy McVeigh, who bombed a federal building in Oklahoma in 1995 and murdered 168 people.

Then again, McVeigh might have done something similar at a later date if he hadn’t read that novel. I don’t blame the book.

Additional Observation

A couple of the books the conservative magazine chose as the “most harmful” of the past two centuries are feminist (example: The Feminine Mystique, by Betty Friedan) and 14 of the 15 judges are men.

Maybe if the judges consisted of a more balanced representation of men and women, books which promote a philosophy that men and women should be treated equally would have been held in higher regard.

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2 Comments so far

Pandagon has a good analysis of the Human Events list as well.

Comment by Amanda Toering 06.01.05 @ 3:54 pm

I disagree with alot of the book listings here for any number of reasons, but listing Charles Darwin’s “Origins Of Species” is just plain crazy. Evolution is the foundation to biology. This gave us the ability to study diseases, bacteria, and germs with improved knowledge. This is the reason humans live longer and in better health than ever before.
No matter what your religious beliefs are evolution has done far more good than bad. as portions of the United States becomes more religious they have to understand fighting science is bad. Cheating students out of a firm understanding of biology is not only short sighted, but also cheats soceity.

Comment by Peter 06.02.05 @ 6:08 pm

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