Burning Books

Over the course of human history several groups have made the choice to burn books. And I think ISIS has now done the same. I’m just wondering why this happens.

I understand that during the days before electricity burning books would have been a surefire way to stop people from gaining knowledge. Imagine a town with one central library that was burned to the ground. Would the people just stop learning? No. But not having any books would make it a bit more difficult. But now we’re living in a very different age. We have the internet. We have all kinds of books in the public domain. We can gather information from so many different sources that it really makes no sense to burn books (not that it ever did).

I guess I can see it as an intimidation tactic to demonstrate that nothing is out of your reach, but burning books doesn’t really sway any opinions. Just like burning businesses, historical landmarks, or homes does nothing to change the opinions of people. With the technology that we have today (even in lesser developed countries) books can never really be burned. Printed books can be destroyed, but the information, stories, and everything that lies within the pages of a book cannot be taken away.


On this day in 2014 I published Letter From Character to Author.

 

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20 thoughts on “Burning Books

  1. Ignorance breeds more ignorance and in the past it was done to keep the populace dumb and having to rely on being told what to do by their priests and kings. Hitler did it so he could keep the people from learning from the past seems to be still the case! šŸ˜®
    Rules of taking over a country, people and world. 1. Mess with their education (IE Dumb them down) 2. Get rid of all religions but the one that belongs to the one who is going to take over, 3. Get rid of privately held weapons and tell them it is to protect them. 4. Take over the country, people and world!

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  2. I agree. The people wanting to do it are sort of a throw back anyway, so maybe old scare tactics appeal to them. How bright are they if they want to burn books? Done in the context of other brutish, bullying tactics, I guess it’s just one more scary power play.

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  3. I’m wondering if few people have access to the internet in the places that ISIS is burning books? Maybe burning hard copies is an effective way of destroying knowledge.

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    • I’m not sure. But at some point ISIS will be gone. That knowledge may be temporarily destroyed, but it’s not being wiped from history. Too many other people and institutions know it.

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      • But the information may be inaccessible for a generation or or three and thus an atmosphere of ignorance becomes the breeding ground for religious fundamentalism. ISIS may not be around for forever but that region of the world will always harbour the ideals, or some of the ideals, that ISIS holds.

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      • You’re right. All I’m saying is that this is just the latest way for a group over there to try to restrict knowledge and information. And I don’t think it will be successful.

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      • I think you’re right on that point.

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      • Just read a CNN article about how ISIS controls daily life. They closed a major university and then reopened it under their “law” with certain subjects banned. Just an interesting tidbit. I actually hadn’t heard about this even though it happened a little while back.

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  4. it is actually a failed attempt to show who is in control. They are very primitive. in the old age it mattered because it was hard to find a copy of that certain book, but now it seems irrelevant . It neither shows authority, nor does it show destruction of a culture or civilization. People can now re-write it easily. They can find hundreds of other copies. If not in a book, it could be found on the internet.

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  5. I’m not really privy to the motivations behind ISIS’ actions, but I just wanted to say that I absolutely adore the way you worded that last sentence ā¤

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  6. Scare tactics such as this usually make people rebel and learn even more in secret. Or other countries/towns/religions/sects rally behind the people to overthrow the dictatorship attempting to use bullying such as this. They’re only making things harder for themselves, not the people they’re trying to rule.

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    • Well they’re not really destroying anything. Because whatever they’re trying to destroy by burning books is known elsewhere in world. AND things are already hard enough for them. I read articles every so often about Iraqi and Turkish fighter retaking this small city or that stronghold. Which is why this tactic is even more bizarre.

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  7. Your post reminded me of a book I read, Fahrenheit 451 novel by Ray Bradbury published in 1953.

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