Sofia Leung, Teaching & Learning Program Manager and Liaison Librarian at MIT.
The Radical Left’s pathological animosity toward Western Civilization and everyone of European descent, dead or alive, is having a destructive impact on our culture and institutions far worse than any single fire.
Rod Dreher yesterday lost his temper over two extreme, but entirely typical, examples.
this below is what it means to have barbarians march through our institutions.
The Teaching And Learning Program Manager at MIT libraries, Sofia Leung (â€œI believe that social justice work is library work and that we should all be collectively engaged in our liberationâ€), has detected impurity in the stacks. She writes:
If you look at any United States libraryâ€™s collection, especially those in higher education institutions, most of the collections (books, journals, archival papers, other media, etc.) are written by white dudes writing about white ideas, white things, or ideas, people, and things they stole from POC and then claimed as white property with all of the â€œrights to use and enjoyment ofâ€ that Harris describes in her article. When most of our collections filled with this so-called â€œknowledge,â€ it continues to validate only white voices and perspectives and erases the voices of people of color. Collections are representations of what librarians (or faculty) deem to be authoritative knowledge and as we know, this field and educational institutions, historically, and currently, have been sites of whiteness.
Library collections continue to promote and proliferate whiteness with their very existence and the fact that they are physically taking up space in our libraries. They are paid for using money that was usually ill-gotten and at the cost of black and brown lives. In the case of my current place of employment, the university definitely makes money off of the prison industrial complex and the spoils of war. Libraries filled with mostly white collections indicates that we donâ€™t care about what POC think, we donâ€™t care to hear from POC themselves, we donâ€™t consider POC to be scholars, we donâ€™t think POC are as valuable, knowledgeable, or as important as white people. To return to the Harris quote from above, library collections and spaces have historically kept out Black, Indigenous, People of Color as they were meant to do and continue to do. One only has to look at the most recent incident at the library of my alma mater, Barnard College, where several security guards tried to kick out a Black Columbia student for being Black.
She hates old books because white people wrote them and loved them. Thatâ€™s what it amounts to. This woman is not some SJW kook beavering away in the basement of Evergreen State, or a dyspeptic grad student in Grievance Studies. She is an important librarian at MIT. Whatâ€™s more, the venerable trade publication Library Journal tweeted her blog entry. The blog entry in which she calls for the purging of library collections because white people wrote them and loved them and collected them. Their existence offends her sense of justice.
Do you not see whatâ€™s happening here? Those who control a cultureâ€™s memory control its people. Sofia â€œSocial Justice Work Is Library Workâ€ Leung wants to throw certain books down the memory hole because they are racially impure. If this catches on, then some sane institutions stand to inherit some valuable books tossed out by woke universities â€¦ unless Sofia Leung Thought requires the burning of those whiteness grimoires so they canâ€™t pollute the minds of others ever again.
Why canâ€™t universities simply expand their collections to include books and documents from a greater diversity of writers, scholars, and artists? If Leung was calling for that, who could possibly object? Not me. But sheâ€™s not calling for that at all. Sheâ€™s calling for getting rid of books and documents that incarnate â€œwhiteness,â€ whatever the hell that is.
Or how about this thread of SJW responses to the Notre Dame fire compiled by Andy Ngo (of Quillette) on Twitter?
Even a Canadian Progressive like Tama Ward can be made a little uncomfortable with the role of Post-Colonial Parent.
At breakfast, in the glass-towered city of Vancouver, five-year-old Abigail looks glumly at her half-eaten bowl of cereal.
“What is it, honey?” I brush the bangs back from her face.
She lets out a big sigh. “I wish I wasn’t white.”
I start. Nothing in the parenting manuals has prepared me for that.
“All we’ve ever done is hurt people,” she continues. “I wish my skin was dark and that I had a culture.”
We live in a part of the city where immigrant families abound. Our neighbours are homesick, first-generation Mexicans, which means that salsas and pinatas and Aztec legends feature prominently at shared social gatherings. Our family regularly eats in Little India where we gush over the flavours of curry and dhal, and every February, we attend the Chinese New Year parade in the slanting rain. Plus, my husband and I are children of missionaries and harbour an acute guilt for the cultural imperialism of our forebears. To compensate, we’ve raised our children with a deep appreciation of non-Western cultures.
So when Abigail laments the colour of her white skin, part of me is programmed to protest. Is it not my moral obligation to tell her that her feelings of poor self-worth are nothing compared with the psychological ruin of real racism? Girl, everything about Canadian culture weighs in your advantage and you have no right to snivel!
Instead, I feel a sadness settle over me. We thought we were raising the enlightened child of the 21st century. We thought we were doing our part in setting the history record straight. Yet, in doing so, it seems we have robbed our oldest child of something primal to psychological health, something elemental to her well-being as a human being: cultural roots.
I don’t know what to say.
I consider the you-are-Canadian spiel: “part of a new society made up of the vibrancy of many cultures, etc.” Yet, “Canadian” is precisely the problem. What is Canadian? Her best friend is Canadian and Mexican. Her cousin, Canadian and Bengali. Even our Indigenous neighbours have a First Nation before they have Canada. To play the Canadian card will further neuter her culturally when what she’s looking for are deep roots that ground her to a people and place.
Seized by maternal panic I go in search of our oversized National Geographic Atlas and hoist it up onto the breakfast table. Abigail sits up and she leans in. “It was almost 200 years ago that your people came to Canada from this island.”
Abigail’s face brightens at that word: island. I know what she’s thinking. Islands are places of primal innocence and cultural distinctiveness, such as Haida Gwaii or Never Never Land.
But then when I speak the name of her island, Abigail’s full-body slump returns.
“Great Britain?!” she pouts accusingly. “Aren’t they the bad ones?”
Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things
Cream-colored ponies and crisp apple strudels
Doorbells and sleigh bells
And schnitzel with noodles
Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things
Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes
Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes
Silver-white winters that melt into springs
These are a few of my favorite things
“You dirty racist!”
Do you like warm fires, candles, generalized coziness, intimate gatherings with family and friends, even pumpkin lattes and warm socks? Beware! you are guilty of fondness for Hygge, a Danish kind of reactionary thinking that Slate deplores.
Christina Cauterucci last Fall, in response to last years publication of several books on Hygge, mocked the hankering for candles, doubted that Hygge was even achievable for American residents of “drafty apartment[s] with no fireplace, no grandma, nothing but sweatsocks, and an understuffed sofa,” and described Hygge as essentially a yearning for a return to the uterus. She didn’t come right out and say so but, back in the uterus, there are no bearded Muslim refugees looking to cut your throat, shoot you full of holes, or blow you up.
More recently, Alex Robert Ross identified the sinister connection between a liking for candles and warm socks and Racism and Populist Xenophobia.
This all makes sense. A collective craving for childlike comforts in response to social trauma is a psychoanalytic classic. It was Carl Jung who wrote in The Practice of Psychotherapy, â€œThe patientâ€™s regressive tendency[…] is not just relapse into infantilism, but an attempt to get at something necessary[â€¦] the universal feeling of childhood innocence, the sense of security, or protection, or reciprocated love, of trust.â€ He was a half-sentence away from extolling the virtues of homemade yogurt, eye contact with close family, and a deep, abiding hygge.
Hyggeâ€™s turning inward against the world outside comes with a more sinister edge, however. As Charlotte Higgins pointed out in her deep dive for the Guardian last month, hyggeâ€™s ties to the far-right in Denmark are remarkably strong. Pia KjÃ¦rsgaard, the leader of the right-wing, anti-immigrant Danish Peopleâ€™s Party, has publicly extolled the virtues of the lifestyle, insisting that her office remain cozy and hyggelig at all times. Denmarkâ€™s welfare state and reputation for tolerance may be admired by progressives in the U.K. and U.S., but, as Higgins points out, the countryâ€™s love of hyggefied thatched cottages with closed doors suggests a conservative undercurrent. â€œAnything that threatens that safe community, including alien values and ideologies, cannot be tolerated,â€ she writes.
The journalist and author Michael Booth had the same sensation when he moved from England to Denmark. â€œHygge can seem like self-administered social gagging, characterized more by a self-satisfied sense of its own exclusivity than notions of shared conviviality,â€ he wrote in The Almost Nearly Perfect People: The Truth About the Nordic Miracle. Bloom says that it falls in line with a â€œpostcolonial drawbridge theoryâ€”the â€˜What was lost without [will be found within]â€™ way of valuing what little cultural and economic capital Denmark had left after the loss of its empire.â€
Indeed, Denmark has been struggling with its colonial legacy lately; a rise in the number of refugees over the past two years has uncovered the limits of Denmarkâ€™s famously progressive outlook. The government can now seize any item worth more than $1,450 from a refugee in order to pay for their sustenance and upkeep in the country. And after slashing refugee benefits last year, the government advertised the news in Lebanese newspapers, just to be sure that the country didnâ€™t seem quite so attractive to newcomers. The far right Danskernes Parti, or â€œDanesâ€™ Party,â€ handed out â€˜Asylum Sprayâ€™ in the port town of Haderslev in September. Pepper spray being illegal, they filled the cans with hairspray instead, but the message remained hideously clear. â€œWe wanted to figure out a way for Danish people, in particular women, to protect themselves,â€ party leader Daniel Carlsen said. â€œIn the short run we want to provide solutions to make life better and safer for the Danish people.â€
If his words sounded a little hyggelig, itâ€™s no coincidence. Poured into hyggeâ€™s candlelit sweetness, like a cloying cream filling, are inevitable and explicit cases of xenophobia and racism. In their recent study of online communities in Denmark, Ahmad Beltagui and Thomas Schmidt explored the hygge of the closed chat room. In one instance, this sense of community was fostered with â€œwhat one [user] referred to as a â€˜â€˜little Hyggelig racist jokeâ€™.â€ This online interaction had an unsavory conclusion: â€œThe rapid escalation saw the opponent being addressed in upper case text and accused of both not speaking Danish and being homosexual.â€ Though such bullying, the researchers write, would not ordinarily be particularly hyggelig, the abuse came â€œfrom a user with the word Hygge in their username.â€ With racist, homophobic abuse online being a cornerstone of right-wing populism today, this little hyggelig anecdote should raise doubts about just how apolitical hygge can claim to be.