Give the man some privacy

I don’t really have a story, but I do have something on my mind.  I read a book this weekend, one that seemed so perfect for reading to my class. It was on a topic that connected to our study of the American Revolution.  It included famous figures and private figures, heroes and spies.  I was pretty pumped,  until, when I was about 3 quarters of the way through the book, I happened to check the back flap and noticed that the author was also a host on a morning television show.  This surprised me, and I have to admit it concerned me a bit.  It’s not necessarily a reason to drop a book, but it did make me curious and a little nervous. So, I googled this author/tv host, and found more than I wanted to discover about his views.  

I learned that he had said that one problem with America was that we “keep marrying other species and ethnics. Swedes have pure genes, because they marry other Swedes. Finns marry other Finns, so they have a pure society. In America, we marry everybody — we marry Italians and Irish.”   Well, guilty as charged on that mixing thing, but apparently my family is also messing up his Swedish purity thing. I’m part Swedish, but my dad married a non-Swede who is Jewish (gasp), and I married someone who is Irish. Yikes.  We’re doomed.  

I kept reading.  

Author/host also said this in a discussion about terrorism on U.S. soil:  “It wasn’t just one person, it was one religion. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims.” This is not the kind of statement that I want to be reading from an author who claims to know something about history.  Umm, sir, I think I’ve heard stories about a group of people in this country who wore hoods and white sheets and bombed churches and lynched people.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t Muslim. I would call them terrorists, though. And I think they liked to say things about “pure genes,” too. Just sayin’.

Finally, I know there are a lot of different views on immigration policies, but when it comes to separating kids from parents, I find it hard to justify that policy.  Apparently I was missing an important point about those kids, though. Here’s the quote from that same author/host/historian:  “And these are not — like it or not, these aren’t our kids. Show them compassion, but it’s not like he’s doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas.” I’m glad he clarified the situation.

So, I decided that no matter how interesting the book about spies during the American Revolution, I think I’m going to pass on sharing it with my class.  I’ve read great literature by people whose politics I didn’t share, but this book wasn’t great literature, and even if it were, that wouldn’t mean I should promote it in my classroom.  It’s not an accident that I’m not mentioning the author in this post. He deserves some privacy.

6 thoughts on “Give the man some privacy

  1. You have me wondering and most likely off to google – I am hoping it is not who I think it may be … it is too late at night for this post! Too powerful, too upsetting, too intriguing… I guess I am saying you are too good of a writer for me to read at 10pm!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much goes into the calculus of which books for which readers at which times (if at all), doesn’t it? On a connected topic to the one you sliced about, albeit a different angle, I read last week a largely humorous book about family ties by A.J. Jacobs, called _It’s All Relative_. Probably not ideal for class reading either — for different reasons — but also takes a different stance on claims of genetic purity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you’re keeping his identity private – especially from your students. That said, I think this raises interesting questions about whether or not we can separate the artist from the art (inasmuch as the book you read is art). I’ve found I do this more readily with some forms of art than others – and that I am more inclined to link the artist to the art with contemporary artists than with older ones.

    Liked by 1 person

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