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View Diary: UMass Mao library book story is a hoax (140 comments)

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  •  A Blessing in Disguise? (none)
    This hoax might actually do some good, believe it or not.

    By making the "library investigators" part of a ridiculous story, this news may make grass roots Neo-McCarthyites less likely to do some things they have done in the past.

    Back in McCarthy times, one of the librarians in our town public library took it upon herself, entirely on her own authority to contact parents, if she noticed that schoolkids were checking out books that in her opinion were "questionable," politically or morally. Even high school and college kids.

    In LA back in the mid-1950s, a college student was not allowed to get on a city bus by the driver, because he had a book by Mao in his hand--a book used in a course he was taking at USC.

    A public school teacher who took a summer trip to "Red China" was required by the Board of Education to have a tape recorder on during his classes, to see if he was teaching kids subversive things. If he had refused to allow the taping, he would have been fired immediately.

    He never was fired, but the tape recorder kept rolling in his classes well after Tailgunner Joe McCarthy was finally shot down by his own craziness and alcoholism.

    A lot of McCarthyist repression back then was carried out at the local level by self-appointed bigots and crazies. Decent people were afraid to do anything about it, since they might be accused of being "Pinkos" themselves.

    In normal times, right-wing bigots and crazies who used their positions to abuse people would have been reprimanded or fired. But in those days you were regarded as subversive for defending those accused of being subversive. These local wingnuts could get away with just about anything then, in the name of "patriotism."

    There are people like that around today --fanatical fundamentalists and know-nothings. If they think they can "punish" those they dislike  using the Security State as an excuse, they will certainly try.

    Making investigating some kid's library record seem totally absurd and ridiculous may help reduce actual extremism by self-appointed vigilantes.

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