On May 10, 1933, students in 34 university towns across Germany gathered to burn more than 25,000 books. The works of authors like Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller went up in flames.
At the same time, 40,000 people gathered to hear the German Minister of Public Enlightenment, Joseph Goebbels, give a speech applauding those who were “commit[ting] to the flames the evil spirit of the past.” The unwanted ideas of Western civilization fueled the bonfires of Berlin.
On May 16, 1966, Mao Zedong empowered his nation’s youth to threaten and silence all who held unwelcome views. The chairman’s “Red Guard,” thus, proceeded to attack and persecute all they dubbed politically incorrect. Books were burned. Several hundred thousand people died. Unwanted ideas went the way of the flames and the grave.
On April 20, 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia. They immediately began burning books and imposing government censorship on all “intellectuals” who posed a threat to the official government narrative. After a mere four years, approximately 2 million people died. Unwanted ideas were buried in the killing fields.
During the week of Nov. 9, 2020, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a cease and desist letter to Big League Politics, threatening “criminal prosecution” if the website’s administration did not take down a video of alleged voting fraud.
On Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, Democrats on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chided Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, CEOs of Facebook and Twitter, respectively, for not censoring the American people more than they already have.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked Mr. Zuckerberg what Facebook had done to quash “the spread of misinformation” regarding the 2020 presidential election.
Sen. Chris Coons urged Mr. Dorsey to go further in his efforts to fight “misinformation,” calling on the Twitter CEO to clamp down on communication Mr. Coons claimed was laden with “climate denialism.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono tossed her match unto the already burning fire of banned ideas by accusing Mr. Zuckerberg of pandering to conservatives by allowing them to serve as “third-party fact-checkers” in assessing content for Facebook.
Not one of these “public servants,” who have sworn an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution (which, last I knew, still included the First Amendment), said a word in defense of free speech.
Not one of these people seemed to care a whit about what history has taught concerning the dangers of censorship and the punishment of ideas.
Not one. Not Ms. Nessel. Not Ms. Feinstein. Not Mr. Coons. Not Ms. Hirono.
No, instead of heeding the warning of George Santayana (“He who doesn’t learn the lessons of history is doomed to repeat them.”), these pandering priests of political correctness presume to tell all the rest of us what we can read and what we can say.
These are the “smarter-than-thous” who apparently think only they have the necessary gray matter needed for being arbiters of what is real and what is fake.
These are the moral-flat-earthers who actually think a female is no longer a biological fact, that a 5-year-old can choose his gender, and that a woman should have to give up her shower, her bathroom, her sport and her scholarship to a man simply because he wants to play dress up and make-believe.
These are the brilliant ones who tell us that critical race theory is a fact, that it’s not racist to label someone because of their race and that judging people by the color of the skin rather than the content of their character is a moral good.
These are the rocket scientists who have no problem perpetuating the fake news about Benghazi and the blatant lies about Russian collusion.
These are the folks who seem to care very little that their Messiah told a big whopper when he said, “If you like your health care, you can keep it.”
These are the Mensa members who want all of us to believe our planet only has 10 years left if we don’t immediately make AOC queen of the universe.
These are the butchers who have the temerity to tell us that a human baby is not a human being worthy of human life and human rights.
These shameless deceivers live in a fairytale, a land of pretend. They deny reality. They deny science. They deny history, and they deny the truth. And now they have the audacity to suggest they should be the ones to tell all the rest of us what we can post and what we can print.
If we don’t tell these petty little Goebbels to go pound sand, we may soon find the words of Santayana to be more prophetic than prose.
History, after all, does have a way of repeating itself.
“Where one burns books, one will soon burn people.” — Heinrich Heine
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery).