In Defense of Book Burning. (Will's World)

By Manley, Will | American Libraries, March 2002 | Go to article overview

In Defense of Book Burning. (Will's World)


Manley, Will, American Libraries


If you want to make a strong statement about something, it's hard to find a stronger image to use than fire. When God revealed himself to Moses, he did so as a burning bush. When Jesus attempted to describe the pain of hell, he conjured up a terrifying portrait of eternal flames. When the white-hooded thugs of the Ku Klux Klan rode menacingly through the rural South to stir up the hatred of racism, they burned crosses on people's front yards. When anti-war dissidents protested U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, they burned the American flag. When Buddhist monks protested the corrupt Diem regime in South Vietnam, they burned themselves. When the Nazis wanted to rid Germany of dangerous and undesirable ideas, they burned piles and piles of books.

Unfortunately, book burning is back in business, but not in Germany. It's happening right here in the U.S., and, oddly, it has nothing to do with our worldwide war on terrorism. In fact, there's probably been a book burning at a church or school near you. The target is Harry Potter, hero of millions of children. Harry is a fictional young boy who can perform extraordinary feats of magic. The fact that he has captured the hearts and imaginations of children has driven some clerics and parents into fits of frustration and rage. It's the kind of rage that bursts into fire.

The whole book-burning phenomenon is actually quite difficult to understand. You would think that Harry would be a cause for celebration by anyone sincerely interested in young people. With a wave of a wizard's wand he has done the utterly impossible. He has turned kids away from television, videos, and computer games and back into books. I never thought I'd see the day when kids would line up outside of a bookstore just to buy a book! Miraculously, that is what happens whenever a new Potter title is released, and that is precisely why Harry is driving his enemies crazy.

He's so popular that they think that he might mesmerize young children, turning them away from God and toward the black arts. Never mind the fact that Harry is a force of goodness and courage in a world that is creeping with evildoers. …

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