I don’t believe in banning books. In banning one book, we take the first step down an immediately slippery slope that leads to another banned book and then another banned book until free speech is in great danger of being suppressed altogether.
I’m not saying middle schoolers – or even high schoolers – should be expected to handle literary curriculum involving swear words, sex scenes and other elements above their maturity level. But governments shouldn’t have the right to say what we can or cannot read either.
Why bring this up? Because Germany’s “Mein Kampf” is being returned to bookshelves in Germany after a legislative ban since the end of World War II.
Ok, yes: “Mein Kampf” is one of the most disturbing works ever written. But guess what? It wasn’t written in a vacuum.
“Mein Kampf” was the product of a disgusting mind forged in a mix of political, economic and social situations. For one thing, Germany was trying to recover financially and psychologically from World War I, and it increasingly turned to socialism as the answer. That’s why “Nazi” is short for the German title for “National Socialist German Workers’ Party.”
Do you know what socialism teaches? That there’s an enemy; there’s an “other.” It’s a way of inspiring people to step past their comfort zones to achieve great things… by tearing down anyone who isn’t like them.
Another factor that spawned “Mein Kampf” was Germany’s increasing push toward evolution as the end-all and be-all of scientific theories. Because evolution teaches that people morph into physically superior creatures, with the strong surviving by somehow taking from the weak, Hitler and the Nazis were able to justify their classification of certain races as automatically inferior.
Those factors – that kind of depression and obsession – can lead to some dangerous mindsets and subsequent behaviors, where books like “Mein Kampf” are easily accepted because their content has already been too widely adopted… not because they introduce anything brand new to society.
Understanding that, people can learn a lot by reading that piece of hatemongering history… such as how too much of what’s being taught societally, politically, educationally and religiously today smacks of the kind of propaganda Germany accepted as truth in the decades leading up to the Nazi regime.
So I’m all for unbanning “Mein Kampf.” Maybe if more of us read it, we’ll wake up and realize what we’re really striving for.