A while back, I made a post where I casually pointed out that Roald Dahl was an anti-Semite. Now of course, there were people who didn’t think the quotes I linked to were offensive enough, so here’s a link to the top five most anti-Semitic things Dahl said and here’s one just to make things as clear as possible:
“I am certainly anti-Israel, and I have become anti-Semitic.”
At the time I did joke that I had ruined some people’s childhood, but this was far from my actual intention.
You see, as someone who’s ethnically Jewish, I should be mortally offended by his statements and have no desire to read his work. Yet, I went into his books knowing a lot of these things about him. I’ve read countless books (many of them by favourite authors) who promote the blood libel or say things that make my skin crawl. And still, even as a book blogger, I actively endorse their work. Just the other day, I praised Dahl for his creepy writing.
In my personal opinion, I *don’t* think you should boycott books based on what the author believed. Of course, everyone is entitled to choose what they read and why, but to me this would be too much like cutting off my nose to spite my face. Especially when one considers how many people in history (and presently) that have some kind of prejudice. There is too much to learn to insist on being narrow minded just because other people are narrow minded.
This can be extended to reading books by people whose views I disagree with. True, some people’s personal beliefs might cloud their work, and it’s fair to take such biases into consideration. It’s even fair to debunk or debate every line of a book if we so choose. However, we can’t fight ideas we disagree with by burying our heads in the sand- these ideas exist whether we like them or not- we can’t relegate them to thought-crime penitentiaries simply by name calling. It’s not an effective argument and, ultimately, it’s not how we learn. Frankly, I want to be able to decimate arguments from people whose views I find repugnant (and yes, I’m talking about literal Nazis or Marxists or whatever else extremist-ist you can find). For this reason, I will not limit what I read because of who I am or what I believe.
Forgive me if I’m being repetitive, I know I’ve talked about such things before. This just happened to be something playing on my mind.