In Monday’s Salon.com, Alex Koppelman debunks an e-mail that is circulating that purports to contain a list of books that Sarah Palin wanted banned from the public library when she was mayor of Wasilla, Alaska. According to Koppelman, “The list is fake” and “Palin never seems to have mentioned specific books.”
But while Mayor Palin may not have identified specific books when she asked the city librarian if she would be “all right” with censoring library books if Palin asked her to do so, it is not hard to identify at least some of the books that Palin might have wanted censored.
All we need to do is look at the books (and other materials) that members of her church have publicly burned elsewhere.
Palin was a member of the Wasilla Assembly of God church from the time that she was child (she was baptized there at age 12 or 13) until 2002. She still has close ties to the church and still attends an Assemblies of God church when she is in Juneau, the state capitol.
According to the American Library Association, the Assemblies of God have been publicly burning books for many years, as well as attempting to censor books from schools and public libraries.
In Butler County, Pennsylvania, for example, the Harvest Assembly of God Church in Penn Township held a public book burning that included tossing the Harry Potter books, Disney books, and books advancing the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons into the bonfire. Also consigned to the flames were music CDs of Foreigner, Joe Walsh, AC/DC, Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, and REM, as well as videos of “Pinocchio,” “Hercules” and “Jurassic Park.”
The criteria for burning didn’t seem very precise. Books were burned because they promoted non-Christian beliefs and CDs were burned because “they promoted drugs and alcohol.” The book burners said that they were inspired by the Book of Revelation and a passage in Acts 19:19, describing how former practitioners of magic burned their books in public.
The point, of course, isn’t what specific books and CDs were burned, but that books were burned at all.
As the Rev. George Bender of the Harvest Assembly of God told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as he stood watching the flames crackle, “I think it worked out well…I hope people understand our intentions, though I know some won’t.”
I agree with Rev. Bender – I hope that people understand the book burners’ intentions.
And I fear that some won’t.
I don’t need to see the list of condemned books to understand what people like Rev. Bender – and Sarah Palin – intend to do with our freedom.