Message about Words
On the day I write this, April 24, 2022, it is the anniversary of the founding of the Library of Congress in 1800. A dozen years later, the British
came and burned the collection (and a lot of other stuff in Washington DC) and they had to start all over, buying ex-president Jefferson’s personal
library (it was a time when presidents read books).
Throughout history, burning libraries has been a popular activity of invaders. Qin Shi Huang when founding his dynasty burned the Xianyang Palace library in 206 BCE. Christians burned the Great Library of Alexandria in 391. Conservative imams burned the Library of al-Hakam II in Cordoba Spain in 976. Book burning for religious and political
reasons such as Friar Savonarola’a bonfire of the vanities in 1497, and the German 3 rd Reich in the 1930’s. Libraries have been destroyed this year by
the invaders of Ukraine. Back in the U.S. book burnings are rare (but
exist), however banning of books from schools and public libraries has increased. For decades political groups have successfully banned books by both well-respected authors such as Mark Twain to math books in Florida.
To search freely and responsibly for truth & meaning is one of UU’s principles. Democracy cannot exist without writing being tested in the
“marketplace of ideas” and thus we all play a role in opposing the suppression of books. -Patrick O’Neill, PhD