Where they burn books, they will also burn people. ( If you are frightened to burn their books, they will burn you.)


By Anthony Posner
November 9, 2010
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This quote from Heinrich Heine has been used as a justification for not burning books. At first glance, it appears to serve as a prescient insight into the Nazi book burnings, which ironically enough, included Heine's own publications.

However, since the fall of the Third Reich, a new form of totalitarianism has emerged (Islamofascism) which supports the burning of books like Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses", but violently condemns the burning of the Koran. This totalitarianism is essentially an attack on secular Western civilization, and those who collude in it from the side-lines, cleverly use Heine's dictum to support the PC Islamist view that nobody should burn their copy of their Koran.

It is crucial to understand that in modern secular democracies, the individual is at liberty to burn his own books. He is not at liberty, however, to burn his neighbour's books and he is certainly not at liberty to burn books in a public library. These are important distinctions. But the right to burn your own books does not contravene any law and should be given the full support of anybody who loves liberty. Ironically enough, support for this freedom is essential to a love of books because without it, Mullahs and other religious authorities will determine what you can and cannot read. Of course, one only has to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran to recognize this self-evident truth.

Moreover, as I have also stated on this blog, there is no evidence to suggest that The Nazis ever burnt Korans. The reason for this is quite simple.The Nazis did not wish to alienate their Muslim allies who supported the extermination of World Jewry. However, of course, if anybody can supply any evidence to suggest that The Nazis did burn Korans, they should post it on this blog.

In today's increasingly totalitarian climate, it takes some courage to even write the above blog. I await a fatwa. However, whilst people are being tortured and imprisoned in Iran, I will continue to use the freedom that some of us still have to express such ideas. I sincerely hope that others will be encouraged to do so.

COMMENTS

Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 08:48

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I will inevitably be condemned as an idiot, a charlatan, and as an Islamophobic Nazi, for having posted the above blog.


Yoni1

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 09:15

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Only by idiots and charlatans, Anthony. Those who resort inappropriately to Heine in order to prohibit a lawful (and as you say, fundamentally libertarian) act must be one or t'other. The distinction you draw above between your own books, those of your neighbour and a library full of books is so self-evident to anyone with a modicum of intelligence, that I find it astounding that it needs to be drawn explicitly at all. But thank you for doing so.


Avraham Reiss

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 11:37

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"I await a fatwa"

Anthony, you don't even rate a thinwa! :-)


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 12:48

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Yoni,

Let's see whether they will soon rock up with their usual nonsense.


Dan Judelson

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 13:09

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Anthony is quite right in the purely libertarian aspect of book burning. A few years ago, an artist publicly, over a period of several days destroyed all of his personal possessions. We can debate whether this was an act of vandalism or one of artistic expression, but there was no accusation that the act was one of illegality or of of being a harbinger of totalitarianism - because it was not.

But I think Anthony is being hugely selective in his interpretation. To begin with, Heine's words do not relate exclusively to the act of book burning, but of perception of threat and what that perception may lead to.

The Nazis did not burn books as an expression of their personal liberty - quite the contrary. It was an explicit denial of liberty.

(And yes, it does feel utterly bizarre having to explain this anywhere in the early 21st Century, let alone on a JC blog.)

The Nazi destruction of books was not of books per se, but of the ideas deemed degenerate to the German brand of fascism. It was not restricted to books either but to property, art and, of course, to millions and millions of people.

That's the problem with book burning, whether it be of The Satanic Verses or the The Qur'an. Just like the Nazi's, both these book burning factions are afraid of ideas and, idiotically, think that burning a book will eliminate the ideas in it that scare them. When they discover that people still retain those ideas, however afeared, however secretly, that's when they start to think about burning the people instead of the books they might have read.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 13:32

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Dan,

I don't think that you understood my blog. It is a pity because I really did my best to keep it simple.

I am not justifying the Nazi book burnings. As far as I am aware, they did not own the books that they burnt. And I specifically excluded public libraries.

Now let's assume that an Islamofascist says that they will kill you if you burn the koran. In such circumsatnces, might it then not be cowardice, not to burn it?


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 13:52

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But Anthony, they did own the books they burned. They owned everything in the state if they so decreed it.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 13:52

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Let's assume :

I go out in the garden and burn my copy of the bible. I video the ceremony. I put the video on You Tube.

Is there anything wrong in doing that? Should I stop myself from doing so, because it offends some religious people?

Let's assume that I also burn a copy of Darwin's " Origin of the Species". Should I stop myself, because it might offend some natural selection fanatics?

I would argue that the more people that it offends, the more obligated I am to burn it. Particularly if they actually threaten me with death for doing so.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:10

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tsam,

As I said, I explicitly excluded public libraries. Read my blog carefully.

The Nazis ransacked public libraries. I am opposed to that,


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:17

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Anthony, if they so decreed it-and decreed it they did-they owned everything in your home, too. If they felt like it, they could, on a whim, take what they wanted as their own. Private property had a very different meaning then. Read Hans Fallada's Alone in Berlin.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:22

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tsam,

I have read Fallada's book.

I reiterate, I explicitly excluded public libraries. But I will not repeat it again for fear of boring my readers.


Jon.

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:29

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@tsam. Kind of what I was driving at in the other post...

@anthony posner Whether someone has a legal right to do something and whether they should are two very separate things.

Lets take a concrete and fairly clear example; Pastor Terry Jones.

Do you believe that he was right (not that he had the right) to organise a Koran burning? Is this what you feel to be 'fundamental to civilised society."


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:34

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I would only support Pastor Terry if people were threatening to kill him once he publicized it. If nobody did, then I certainly wouldn't support it.

In that respect it is much more than "fundamental to a civilized society". It is probably the sole protection of a "civilized society".


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:40

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Anthony, yo, there was no private property in the Reich.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:44

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To put it simply.. books are only best burnt when their burning solicits death threats.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:45

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Of course, when the Nazis burnt books, they did not receove death threats from Jews. And that is another reason why I don't support the Nazi book burnings.


Jon.

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:49

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What a silly thing to say Anthony.

You would have supported the Nazis book burning had a single Jewish person said: "I'm going to kill you."


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:50

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So these are my "Posner Book Burning" guidelines.

(1) No books from public libraries.

(2) Only burn books if the burning solicits death threats.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:53

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Silly? Ich don't think so.

Is there any evidence that Nazis were threatened by Jews when they burnt books?

I have read widely, and can find no evidence whatsoever.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 14:55

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Oh, do get a life, Anthony.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:00

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Jon,

It is pertinent at this stage in the discussion to ask yourself a simple question..

"Why is there no documented evidence that Jews threatened Nazis during the book burnings?"

I will like you to ponder this question on your own and to try and see if you can work out why it is relevant.


Dan Judelson

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:00

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Anthony, you are defending book burning as representing an essential element of a liberal society. Notwithstanding your specific and explicit exclusion of public books, it is the burning, rather than the liberty that are foregrounded.

With respect to your question about Qu'ran burning and cowardice, I think it would be an act as mature as those "anarchists" who smash windows of city banks and are then surprised when the police respond aggressively (not that I am defending specific police tactics here).

I'm not trying to be insulting to you, but you have simply put the age old question of whether liberty includes the right to run into a crowded theatre and shout fire into a different context. And answered the question erroneously, I think.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:02

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tsam,

If you feel that you have lost the debate, please say so.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:08

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Dan,

I am not insulted.

I think that your "fire in the theatre" analogy is inappropriate. I really don't see it's relevance. Of course, others might.

But I will once again leave it to our readers to decide who is writing sense, and who is writing nonsense. After all, that is what blogging is all about.


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:18

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Anthony, dearest, you have no argument, so how can I have lost it?


Jon.

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:19

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@Anthony Posner

Loads of reasons I would imagine. Fear being one of them...

Sorry but I find your argument ridiculous. Oh well, onto something more interesting.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:21

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Dan,

And just by the way, I will let you into a secret. Smashing the windows of city banks is illegal.


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:24

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Jon,

Yes "fear". Well done! Follow that line of thought and you may get somewhere. Of course, you may not. It just depends how hard you try.

But thanks for rocking up. Enjoy "more intereting".


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:50

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To adapt Heine for the third millennium:

"If you are frightened to burn their books, they will ultimately burn you"


Anthony Posner

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 15:59

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tsam,

Once again, in the words of Del Trotter... "I did you up like a kipper"


telegramsam

Tue, 11/09/2010 - 16:05

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In the words of Del Trotter, Anthony: "You plonker".

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