Books Republicans love to hate

Here’s an interesting list: “The Ten Most Harmful Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries,” put out by the obviously conservative group called “Human Events.” Pretty funny list. The “usual suspects” are there– The Communist Manifesto is number one, The Kinsey Report is number four, and The Feminine Mystique is number seven. The commies, sex, and them “damn feminists,” that seems consistent with the right.

But then there are some surprises. There’s Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which I suppose they put on there because Hitler is everyone’s number one “bad guy” of the twentieth century. But considering the fact that Pat Buchanan recently said that the U.S. and Great Britain should have been with Germany during World War II to fight the commies, I’m sure there are a few conservatives saying “hey, hey, wait a minute: lay off the Nazi.”

And then, oddly at number five, there’s John Dewey’s Democracy and Education, which I suppose is on the list because of the word “Democracy” is too close to “Democrat.” And then there’s a bunch of philosophers on the list that are pretty much “common reading” in graduate programs in this country: Nietzsche, Foucault, Adorno, Gramsci, etc.

Via Maud Newton’s blog, I came across this article, “Better read than dead,” which was published in the Toronto newspaper, Eye Weekly. Here’s my favorite paragraph:

Likewise, the harmful nature of many books on Human Events’ shit list — selected by a “panel of 15 conservative scholars” — can’t really be quantified in the loss of human life or destruction of property; rather, the selected books have been deemed most harmful because they dared to question the individual’s God-given right to accumulate maximum wealth despite the social consequences and to go home and be cared for by a dutifully subservient wife. (However, none of the books is so harmful as to escape the grasp of capitalism; the list comes complete with purchase links to

3 thoughts on “Books Republicans love to hate”

  1. Books don’t harm people…

    Seriously, though, the interesting thing about this list is that it is not really conceivable to do a similar list from the perspective of the left, for a good reason: we don’t think books are harmful!

    Isn’t the fact that Hitler or Marx or Betty Friedan put their ideas out in the open, no matter how distasteful they may be, the very thing that makes it possible to deal with them?


    Good motto, right wing assholes! “We hate books!”

  2. Your explanation of the objection to Dewey’s work may be spot on; I was reading a student evaluation from my American Studies course that complained my class is unfairly “biased” and that “the professor needs to understand that we do not share her liberal viewpoints and democratic values.” I guess I need to work on making fascists feel more welcome in the classroom.

  3. That’s a fun summer reading list. Some of them are a bit odd though. I can understand why they wouldn’t like Marx, but The Communist Manifesto? I would think it’s too simplistic to warrant such hatred, and their discussion of Capital is a bit weak too. It seems as though they never actually read it. As for Foucault making the honorable mention list, I would think they would find Discipline and Punish or The History of Sexuality more troublesome.

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