About a month ago, The Atlantic, now a very left-leaning magazine, published a piece by Xochitl Gonzalez titled, “The Librarians Are Not Okay.” The piece, a screed really, was featured in “One Story to Read,” a newsletter that the left-leaning editors there recommend as a “must-read” from The Atlantic.
Now, granted, I have written in this space before about the modern-day shenanigans of librarians and would have ignored this one (I happened to be out of the country when it appeared). But the piece got so much press that I felt it necessary to remind readers just how much simulacra and verisimilitude the left is willing to pass off as truth, even in the pages of the once esteemed Atlantic.
Readers were left to believe that librarians — those coy, shy creatures — were simply minding their own business, protecting Shakespeare, Dryden, Twain, the Holy Scriptures, all the classics in an effort to secure the First Amendment, when a horde, a pistarckle of wild-eyed conservatives attacked them for no reason at all. Hold on there, Cochise.
Readers are alerted immediately by the opening image of a librarian, ostensibly, whose face is replaced with a bull’s eye. Oh my! The author proceeds by remarking on the long and serpentine line of librarians lined up for tattoos even before coffee. This is the first hint, we’re told, of the new librarian rebellion, rebel librarians with a cause, you see. Perhaps in their minds it’s rebellion, but as far as I can tell from my own admittedly unscientific observation, about 90% of all millennials and Gen X, Y and Z (or whatever they call themselves these days) have tattoos. It’s hardly a rebellion when everyone is doing it. It’s highly possible those without tattoos are the real rebels.
Then we get to the heart of the matter: “Republican politicians and right-wing group such as Moms for Liberty have been waging war against books.” No, not against books but precisely against certain books. They have been waging war against books that are not age appropriate. For example, Gender Queer is just such a book that is written in graphic comic book style designed to appeal to children that depicts oral sex between adolescent same-sex partners. Add to this dozens of books on transgenderism and transitioning, and you get a better idea that the attack isn’t an attack on books but a war against a venomous ideology meant to indoctrinate.
It’s most odd, too, because no community following basic collection development standards, with the exception of those in and around San Francisco and New York City, would ever have LGBTQI+ population large enough to beg the addition of hundreds of such volumes added to collections in places like, well, where I live, in Rock Hill, S.C., but so we have. When my local public library was asked to buy books that did not, for example, tout transitioning as the only ideal way for teens to navigate their commonplace angst, it refused after making the requestor wait six months for an answer. Meanwhile, in a community that cannot boast more than 2% of transgender civilians, our public library has purchased scores and scores of such books as if they were in the majority, never wondering if there is another side to this sad story.
This isn’t an aleatory random phenomenon occurring in a few places but designed and forced inculcation. The president to the American Library Association is a self-proclaimed Marxist-Lesbian who has declared war on traditional values. She was elected by a majority of librarians who share her views and her desire for left-of-center ideological indoctrination.
Interviews throughout the article function as if there is nothing new here and that these poor put-upon librarians haven’t a clue what this or subsequent “wokeism” is all about. Apart from the deeply flawed 1619: A New Origin Story (a better title is “1619: A Made up Story”) that has been purchased by literally hundreds of libraries, or the insistence that white people have nothing positive to offer to culture in past present or future, I can’t imagine what the brouhaha is all about. Can you?
Are all librarians and librarians cut out of this liberal cloth? No, of course not. But if there are many fighting it, they are doing so very, very quietly. Meanwhile, the liberal, activist librarians are rushing head long to change the clientele much the same way that Alissa Heinerscheid and gay influencer Dylan Mulvaney attempted to change the Anheuser-Busch clientele. If radical librarians keep it up, the results are likely to be the same as the beer company.
Librarianship hasn’t always been this way, though I wrote a piece early on about the coming liberal watershed more than 30 years ago. Before the indoctrination began, libraries sought a neutral middle ground, attempted to buy materials that showed both sides of a controversial question, and filled collections with the good, the beautiful, and the sound.
When I was completing my masters, the Vanderbilt library carried all the back issues of Playboy. But the issues were not on open shelves and you had to leave an ID at the desk to have volumes retrieved. This wasn’t an act of prudery but an act to keep the dubious material (for the interview and articles, of course, of course) intact. Not a few years later, this was considered purblind and the shelves were open. It did not take long before most of the volumes were tattered (for the articles and the interviews, of course, of course).
The point being that we have recently entered into an era where everyone — librarians, journalists, politicians, ministers — has their axes to grind and they will grind it openly to the detriment of the rest of us, often on our heads.
One point the article does get right, however. Near the end of the piece, Gonzalez quotes a librarian, also named Gonzalez, who fears, “Oh my gosh, they’re coming for us.” No, not for you, but for your faulty, one-sided, partisan, ideological indoctrination that flies in the face of Judeo-Christian values.
In my own town, a councilman has taken on this issue and had strong results, bringing to the foreground just what is going on behind so many once hair-bunned (but now pink, blue-haired, overly pierced and, yes, tattooed) librarians. In the same way that Covid exposed the soft underbelly of left-wing politics in schools, so are age-inappropriate books and events (don’t forget Drag Queen Story Hour for children, some of those queens, I remind you, have been arrested for indecency with a minor) bringing to light the nefarious nonsense that is overtaking what was once a safe and secure spot for reading and reflection.
And we need to shine a very bright spotlight on this cultural erasure. Libraries, like schools, will not change until they are forced to by abstemious funding or other pressures. We do not need libraries that are pushing a left or a right agenda. We need libraries that are bastions of sound research and established truths.
Controversial matters should be balanced against each other for adults with fully formed prefrontal cortexes who can decide matters for themselves and for their children. The books shouldn’t be aimed at children who are still trying to get a handle on puberty, curated by radical librarians with an agenda for destruction who masquerade under the guise of protecting the First Amendment.