They're Burning Books in Georgia

They're burning books in Georgia.

I'm supposed to write something witty here, to hook you and get you to read the rest of the column but I don't think I can.

Because they're burning books in Georgia.

Students at Georgia Southern University — whose motto is apparently "Combustum Scientia" (that's Latin for "burn knowledge") — were upset after novelist Jennine CapĆ³ Crucet made some remarks about white privilege during a recent talk, so they set fire to one of her novels.

Crucet was visiting Georgia Smoldering University in Statesboro to give a lecture about her recent book, Make Your Home Among Strangers. The book is about a young Hispanic woman who attends a prestigious mostly-white university and how she struggles with being in an environment different from the one she grew up in.

According to an article in the George-Anne, the school's student newspaper, one student said during Crucet's talk, "I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged. What makes you believe that it’s okay to come to a college campus like this when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we’re taught. I don’t understand what the purpose of this was."

"Promoting diversity" does not mean "not talking about race to white people."

Crucet responded, "I came here because I was invited and I talked about white privilege because it’s a real thing that you are actually benefiting from right now in even asking this question. What’s so heartbreaking for me and what is so difficult in this moment right now is to literally have read a talk about this exact moment happening and it’s happening again."

This apparently upset several white students, because if there's one thing white people hate, it's being told they have benefitted from white privilege.

And so they angrily squash that notion so it is never uttered in public. They bully and shout at people of color so they can make people understand they don't have white privilege.

How do I know?

Because they're burning books in Georgia.

Crucet's book was part of the school's Freshman Year Experience, a program that most universities have where the school selects a book they urge the freshman class to read.

Administrators choose the book because they want the students to experience new ideas and see they are part of a world that extends far beyond themselves.

This year, Georgia Smoldering chose Make Your Home Among Strangers.

Which students promptly burned.

To be clear, only a few people burned Crucet's book. Many of the rest of them were very supportive. Crucet even tweeted about her experiences, thanking those students.

She said, "Also want to say: I met some very amazing, brilliant students at
@GeorgiaSouthern tonight.
Many of them were the ones disrupting the aggressive & ignorant comments during the Q&A. At the signing, we hugged & cried. I‘m happy to know them and also legit worried for their safety."

Why is she worried for their safety?

Because they're burning books in Georgia.

According to the George-Anne, some students gathered outside a barbecue grill and started burning their copies of Crucet's book. One student said they did it because ". . .race is bad to talk about."

The point of the book is to get people to talk about race. That's called "promoting diversity."

Another student, whose Twitter bio says, "Do justly | Love mercy | Walk humbly," endorsed the book burning by tweeting, "Maybe that wouldn't happen if you spoke about your book instead of dissing white people the entire time."

I'm confused: Was that tweet more merciful or just?

Of course, the student deleted that particular tweet, hopefully out of a deep sense of shame.

Other students, who gleefully aired photos and videos of Crucet's book burning, deleted their entire Twitter accounts once their actions were seen in the cold light of day.

This is America. We don't burn books. That is literally something the Nazis did in the 1930s. Do not use Nazi tactics when you disagree with someone.

Why would you be so afraid of new ideas that you want to destroy their very existence? This country is founded on the principle of free expression and the ability to share your ideas without having them burned by a rampaging fascist mob.

Nearly eighty years ago, Hitler's student Nazis burned books that were subversive or shared ideas that were opposed to Nazism. They burned books that were racial, religious, liberal, pacifist, or discussed gender and sexuality.

And now, they're burning books in Georgia.

Georgia Southern is supposed to be a seat of higher learning, a place where you go to have your worldview challenged, to hear new ideas from new people, and to learn how to disagree with those ideas in a constructive manner.

It's shouldn't be a place where people destroy ideas because someone made them feel uncomfortable.

I hate to think what will happen when they learn the sun does not revolve around the Earth.

Photo credit: Unknown (Wikimedia Commons; Source, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Public Domain)

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