mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
NGO To UN: Ban Dante

A United Nations advisory NGO has made a startling discovery: great historical works of literature may contain prejudices that were common currency at the time of their writing. Thankfully, when it comes to Dante’s Divine Comedy, reports The Telegraph, they’ve decided to do something about it:

The classic work should be removed from school curricula, according to Gherush 92, a human rights organisation which acts as a consultant to UN bodies on racism and discrimination.

Dante’s epic is “offensive and discriminatory” and has no place in a modern classroom, said Valentina Sereni, the group’s president…

It represents Islam as a heresy and Mohammed as a schismatic and refers to Jews as greedy, scheming moneylenders and traitors, Miss Sereni told the Adnkronos news agency.

If this is the sort of expertise that brings in the NGO dough these days, Via Meadia would like to cash in. Here are some suggestions for what else should go on the censorship docket:

  • The Bible. This deeply problematic tome has incited full-fledged religious wars and been used to justify slavery, anti-semitism, homophobia and countless other injustices. It should be banned posthaste, along with any works which make reference to its contents, such as Paradise Lost, Dr. Faustus and the collected writings of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Pride and Prejudice. Far from being a harmless romantic tale, Jane Austen’s novel is an offensively heteronormative work that implicitly privileges the so-called traditional family and marriage over alternative social arrangements. (We recommend substituting the morally superior Pride and Prejudice and Zombies on your syllabi.)
  • To Kill A Mockingbird. Promotes cruelty to animals.
  • The Qur’an. Rejects other religions as inferior. Frequently misread by a small but rambunctious minority of readers as a call to wage holy war on modernity and various national landmarks. Has something against pork, threatening livelihoods of many innocent farmers.
  • No Country for Old Men. Ageism.
  • Sherlock Holmes. While ostensibly centering around the exploits of the sleuth of Baker Street, this sinister series in fact promulgates anti-Mormon and anti-Jewish bigotry along the way. Case closed. Permanently.

To the United Nations: You’re welcome.
To rich NGO benefactors: We look forward to your donations.

Features Icon
show comments
  • ptet

    You are totally right, of course…

    But you can find insane self-censorship closer to home. Look at the moves in some US Southern States to re-write history to make sure America is only ever seen in a positive light…

  • Wifman

    I find it interesting that Dante called Islam heresy rather than heathen. I have recently read a paper from an Islam scientist from northern Germany (unfortunatley, to the best of my knowledge in German, only) making the case that Islam is a spawn of Christianity, and the Koran really just a commentary on the Bible.

    One of the arguments he makes to support his case is that Moslems (meshlem = the believers of the writ) were seen as heretics(people who disagree with the codified teachings of the church) by the Byzantines. Also, he says that if you translate the writing on the inside of the rock dome, it reads “Honourable servant of God, Jesus, son of Mary” (Mohammed ikb Allah, Iesue ibn Maria).

    A minority opinion, to be sure, but interesting nonetheless.

  • WigWag

    You could have added Macbeth (presents witches in a less than flattering light; Hamlet (promotes hostility between Norwegians and Danes); Merchant of Venice (not exactly flattering to Jews) and Merry Wives of Windsor (doesn’t seem right to make fun of Falstaff just because he’s fat and he likes to drink too much).

    And then there’s Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Isn’t it etymologically incorrect?

  • Stacy

    I would say our march into a Brave New World continues, but I believe we should ban it as well.

    Ptet – As to Southern states shaping history into the “positive”, keep in mind that many Northern school districts won’t teach Huck Finn because of the languge. Talk about cowardice.

  • Tom Gates

    Re Ptet: As opposed to history books written by those from elitist Ivy league and northeastern universities imposing the values of those dollar obsessed carpetbaggers who swell their endowments. Regards.

  • Aron Matskin

    Gherush 92 clearly refers to the Spanish Expulsion of the Jews in 1492 (‘Gherush Sefarad’ in Hebrew), but for some reason they do not mention it on their website.

  • gs

    1. The intelligentsia has no problem with malicious bigotry if the target is Western culture.

    2. WRM sez, I looked for money to open my own think tank, and all I got was some lousy blog comments.

  • J R Yankovic

    Personally I see nothing wrong with either Northern or Southern states rewriting, sanitizing or demonizing whole histories, purging and anathematizing literatures, etc, to suit their chosen fancies, dreams, schemes and utopias. He who controls the past controls the present. And he who controls the present controls the future.

    Remember: Better simple, sweeping ideas and agendas (“final solutions” is what I believe one ambitious, visionary fellow called them) than complex realities. Ideas make reality bite-size and digestible. They draw us away from the mystery and unsearchableness of real things, excessive focus upon which can tempt us into a “watchful” – i.e., lazy – dependence on the God Who made them for their elucidation. Ideas are also man-manipulable, and so subject to endless revision acc. to the needs of our ever-widening schemes of power and control. They put US at the center, and God on the sidelines, as at most a recipe or blueprint. Or a slogan. Which is exactly where our modern god (AKA History) wants us to be, right? Hasn’t he finally made himself one with the historic process, going wherever it flows (as opposed to being the One Who bounds and closes and SEALS it, as in those antiquated Scriptures)? Doesn’t he want us to graduate beyond primitive images and parables of helpless sacrificial lambs, and little children trustingly receiving the Kingdom of Heaven (wouldn’t he much rather we seized it for ourselves, like men and proper adults – Eve TAKING the fruit: now there’s an ADULT’s relationship with God!) In short, doesn’t our MODERN god want us to stand finally on our own two feet, and take supreme command of our destinies (and his too, if need be)?

    And in the unlikely event that our endless quest for power – over both nature and man – finally blows up in our faces (Oh but how could it? Man is a contemptibly tiny, frail, ineffectual creature [hence his NEED for power] – check Genesis 11:6 if you don’t believe it) – well, what if it does? We can still applaud ourselves for the boldness and heroism of our efforts. Only a loser would fault us for trying.


  • Luke Lea

    You forgot Shakespeare.

  • ptet

    Tom Gates @ 5

    Discussing slavery, corruption, illegal bombings and civil rights is “elitist”. Riiiiight. Gotta watch those smart edumakated people, right?

    gs @ 7

    Malicious bigotry? See above.

    J R Yankovic @ 8

    Word, brother.

  • Engineer

    Dr. Mead, your error is that you’ve made your recommendations before getting the cash, unless this proposal is be your portfolio to solicit the loose change of lefty plutocrats.

  • RSC

    Wifman @ 2, Even more interesting, Dante puts Mohammed in the hell for schismatics, who are not even as bad as heretics. (Heathens don’t believe in God, heretics believe in wrong doctrine about God, schismatics have the right doctrine but for one reason or another cause disunity among believers.) And it’s certainly not surprising Mohammed was familiar with the Judaism and Christianity of Arabia’s neighbors.

    In Dante’s schismatics’ hell, a devil sliced you open with a sword and you walked around a big circle and just as soon as your wounds healed you reached that devil again.

  • Eurydice

    I don’t understand – Ban it, how? From all over the planet? And the UN is going to accomplish this? Sounds like a skit for Saturday Might Live.

  • Eurydice

    Of course, I meant “Saturday Night Live” – but the typo’s an interesting alternative. πŸ™‚

  • Kris

    And let’s not forget that horrible Eric Blair fellow, who not only incites anti-Semitism (Emmanuel Goldstein), but also promotes biphobia!

    Eurydice@13-14: heh.

  • Externality

    I would suggest that we also ban the collected works of Susan Sontag. Her infantile screed as to how “[t]he white race is the cancer of human history” certainly qualifies as racist.

  • Gary L

    They accuse me β€” Me β€” the present writer of
    The present poem β€” of β€” I know not what β€”
    A tendency to under-rate and scoff
    At human power and virtue, and all that;
    And this they say in language rather rough.
    Good God! I wonder what they would be at!
    I say no more than hath been said in Dante’s
    Verse, and by Solomon and by Cervantes…

    – Lord Byron, Don Juan, Canto VII

  • J R Yankovic

    @ ptet (#10):

    Anytime, brother. And may the Nonforce be with you (oh [heck], anyone but that godforsaken Spirit of History).

  • Corlyss

    Well, if Dante goes (not that anyone reads him anymore today – not secular enough), then Shakespeare will have to go to because of his belicose Henry V and his overtly racist Merchant of Venice.

    @ Externality #16

    No. She has the right kind of racism. She can stay.

  • ptet

    Corlyss @ 19

    “Well, if Dante goes (not that anyone reads him anymore today – not secular enough)…”

    Of course students people Dante, just as they read Shakespeare.

    It’s hard to tell sometimes if people are joking in the comments on this blog. The anti-intellectualism and made-up-facts run deep…

  • Jim.


    It’s not anti-intellectualism you’re noticing here; it’s difficult to imagine anyone without intellectual leanings being the slightest bit interested in what this site has to offer.

    What is shocking you is the fact that intellectuals aren’t uniformly politically correct, secular Leftists. What you’re seeing is, to be hoped, the core of a Renaissance of intellectual curiosity about what the world has been, and now is (rather than what Leftists make believe it was, and is) centered around an author (WRM) who has done more homework than the entire Harvard faculty on what has made the Anglosphere (and US) great.

    WRM continues to apply that illuminating point of view to current events, making for interesting and intellectually profitable reading.

    You’re welcome to come along for the ride. Hopefully you can get beyond your narrow ivory tower prejudices, and learn to value and to apply the wisdom and example of past generations over the novelty-obsessed nihilists that pass for “intellectuals” these days.

  • Ptet


    Of course intellectuals aren’t uniformaly correct, secular leftists. My complaint. Is that much of the whining in the comments here – that no one reads Dante & Shakespeare any more, for example, is complete gibberish.

    Maybe you can move beyond your own prejudices and consider that I might be nothing like the ludicrous cartoon you’ve painted in your head.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service