Conservative Paranoia Over Books

I generally avoid responding to arguments which are limited to the conservative blogosphere as opposed to more prominent conservative politicians or writers but I cannot resist this considering the attention it is receiving and the absurdity of it.  Say Anything is publicizing this picture of books selected by Michelle Obama for the White House library. They use the presence of books mentioning Socialism and Communism in the titles, along with many other bogus conservative arguments raised in the past, to further the right wing meme that the Obamas are conspiring to establish Communism in the United States.

The books might include words like Communism in the title but that hardly demonstrates anything about Michelle Obama’s beliefs. As Matthew Yglesias pointed out, “Nathan Glazer, author of the book on Communism depicted on the picture, is a well-known anti-communist intellectual from the original ‘neoconservative’ social/political circle with Daniel Bell, Irving Kristol, and Patrick Moynihan.”

I imagine that by their logic it is liberals who should be concerned that Michelle Obama is secretly a neoconservative.

Of course the presence of books in one’s library tells nothing about one’s political or economic beliefs. This would be true even if Michelle Obama’s book on Communism was in support as opposed to opposition. A photo of my home library would show books by Karl Marx as well as Friedrich von Hayek and Ayn Rand, along with books by authors with views in between.

The books pictured do not demonstrate any support for Marxism but the conservative reaction does show a lack of respect for freedom of expression, along with suggesting a possible reluctance of conservatives to read books other than those which support their own narrow views. This would explain the widespread ignorance of history and economics in recent conservative writing and the frequency with which conservative bloggers repeat right wing talking points which are counter to fact.

Update: Here is yet another example of how the right wing blogosphere repeats items which are contrary to fact to support their world view. These books weren’t even chosen by Michelle Obama as claimed. They have been in the White House library going back to 1963.

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  1. 1
    Leslie Parsley says:

    As a former librarian, this angers, offends and scares me. Sounds like Palin and the Birchers are on the march.

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    This is purely the warped opinion of one blogger but it was repeated by several other conservative bloggers. So far Sarah Palin hasn’t picked up on this line, but such nuttiness often does move around the conservative blogosphere to propaganda outlets like Fox, and to their politicians. Actually in Palin’s case she is also part of Fox, leaving one less step.

  3. 3
    Ron Chusid says:

    Conservative Paranoia Over Books. This might explain the ignorance of other views seen in their writing. #obama #p2

  4. 4
    cognitive dissident says:

    Like you, communism and libertarianism sit shoulder-to-shoulder on my shelves: Marx and Engels are bracketed by Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman. Since I tend to group my books by subject matter, Pat Robertson and Tim LaHaye share a shelf with Osama bin Laden—they’re all fundamentalists, after all—and my Bibles sit between Graves’ Greek mythology and the Arthurian legends.

    While I admit to a certain fondness for pairing books with their rebuttals (Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind and Lawrence Levine’s The Opening of the American Mind; Bernard Goldberg’s 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America and Jack Huberman’s 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America; Ann Coulter’s Godless along with Soulless and Brainless; Robert Bork’s Slouching Towards Gomorrah and Dan Savage’s Skipping Towards Gomorrah) I generally try to be more subtle that merely putting Al Franken and Rush Limbaugh side-by-side…although I did that, too.

    It’s fun to watch people’s expressions as they scan my bookshelves, looking for a clue…

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