Without mentioning the Nazis and the Soviets, Islamic regimes have problems with books. Erdogan's Turkey has replaced Shakespeare and Brecht in state theaters with Turkish authors. He also threatened books by William S. Burroughs and “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck with censorship. A cache of half a million books was discovered in a hangar in Tehran, including Orwell's “Animal Farm”, George Bernard Shaw and Albert Camus, Homer's “Iliad”. They were not liked by the Islamic Revolution, which had seized them.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is a reader of Bulgakov's “Heart of a Dog”, an extraordinary parody of the Soviet regime, but he dismissed it as "anti-revolutionary". And among the "harmful books", Iran has included Plato's “Symposium”, James Joyce and Kurt Vonnegut. Many Western classics have been banned in Iran, including Dostoyevsky's “The Player”, William Faulkner's “As I lay dying” and Virginia Woolf. Kuwait has banned Dostoyevsky and Victor Hugo's “Notre Dame”.
It is enough to see what is happening in the world of culture, ours, to understand that Elon Musk is right and that we are rapidly approaching the type of censorship that exists in Islamic countries. The Fahrenheit 451 of progressivism?
A century after Joyce's “Ulysses” was banned before having marked the contemporaneity and the 20th century novel, Western academics fear that the novel is "shocking" for students and Joyce's masterpiece has ended up under moral censorship for be potentially "offensive," reveals the Telegraph. At the University of Glasgow (not Tehran) Joyce's 800-page story of a common man's day in Dublin is judged offensive for its references to "race, gender and identity".
“Reading Lolita in Tehran” are the memoirs of Azar Nafisi, a professor from Tehran who chose some female students for a secret book club dedicated to Western literature (forbidden and banned literature). The book is divided into four parts: "Lolita", "Gatsby", "James" and "Austen". But in a West where there is a focus on "mansplaining", "manspreading", "neutral pronouns", "transgender bathrooms", children who change their sex and gender identity, Jane Austen is no longer suitable. Austen's “Northanger Abbey” is taught in the Gothic Literature module at the University of Greenwich, but students are now first provided with a warning that the novel contains "elements which students may find disturbing".
There is no longer a single classic of literature that is saved. I will cite just a few examples: “Ivanhoe” by Walter Scott, Shakespeare's "sonnets", Hemingway's “The Old Man and the Sea”, Daniel Defoe's “Robinson Crusoe”, Gulliver's Travels, Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Dickens…
As late as 1970, 10 of the top 50 universities had a compulsory course in "Western civilization," while 31 offered it to students. Today, according to a report entitled “The Vanishing West” by the National Association of Teachers, no American university offers more similar courses. Two generations were formed in the idea that Western culture was evil. Now, having conquered the leadership positions in the culture, they take action.
Khamenei cheers them on.
Giulio Meotti is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio and writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author, in English, of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter and of "J'Accuse: the Vatican Against Israel" published by Mantua Books, in addition to books in Italian. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Gatestone, Frontpage and Commentary.