by Giulio Meotti
“Very proud to say we got the Odyssey removed from the curriculum this year!” proclaimed Heather Levine, who teaches at Lawrence High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts.It is the Wall Street Journal that tells us about the most grotesque madness of American cancel culture. Under the slogan #DisruptTexts, critical theory ideologues, teachers, school bureaucrats and Twitter agitators are purging the classics, from Homer to Francis Scott Fitzgerald from schools. The prohibition of any literary masterpiece unorthodox on gender and race is invoked in justification..
Thus Seattle English teacher Evin Shinn writes that she “would rather die” than bring “The Scarlet Letter” to class, unless Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel is used to “combat misogyny”. When the “anti-racist teacher” Lorena Germán complained that many classics are affected by their time, writer Jessica Cluess retorted: “If you think Hawthorne was on the side of the judgmental Puritans, then you are an idiot and you shouldn’t be given the title of educator”. An online horde accused Cluess, the author of the popular “Kingdom of Fire” series, of “racism” and “violence” and asked Penguin Random House to terminate her contract.
The publisher did not obey, perhaps because Cluess self denounced on time, saying “I take full responsibility for my unprovoked anger towards Lorena Germán”. But it didn’t stop Cluess’s literary agent Brooks Sherman from ending their professional relationship.
According to this logic, Homer would be only the progenitor of “toxic masculinity”. And it is certainly not the first time. Columbia students asked that Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” be preceded by a trigger warning on the sex scenes; at Brown University the students took it out on the statues of the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Augustus who were “white supremacists”; theThe New York Times asked if “we should erase Aristotle” and Oxford announced that it would review the study of Homer’s Odyssey and Virgil’s Aeneid to facilitate “diversity” in the literae humaniores, the ancient glory of the university.
When Victor Davis Hanson, emeritus professor of classical studies at California State University, wrote “Who killed Homer” in 2001, he never imagined that the father of the Western Canon would be banned in American high schools.
“Anything remotely associated with stereotypical ‘white males’ is cause for cancellation, or rather opportunity for the mediocre to virtue signal their ignorance” Victor Davis Hanson told me. “Homer both creates Western values and critiques them at the same time; his treatment of women, slaves, and the poor show a sensitivity lacking in any other culture of the time.”
“The university is not a serious place and its reputation is eroding under massive student debt, ideological attacks on the First Amendment, and general mediocrity. Paying 75 thousand dollars for tuition to zoom in on classes is not sustainable. Those who cancel Homer usually never read him. How can you say Odysseus or Circe or Polyphemus is toxic when you have no idea who they are?
“The Left tries to wipe out the past to create a new future, but has nothing but nihilism to offer in place of what it destroys. Western youth suffers from prolonged adolescence; an entire generation is struggling under student debt, lack of adequate education despite being credentialed, not marrying, childlessness, and living at home. It lacks any formative challenges—buying a home, caring for a spouse, raising a child—that direct attention away from the self, or at least tend to make one more traditional and conservative. Without any positive referents or achievements it can only destroy or cancel in its nihilist madness”.
In the last few years, I have written hundreds of articles on this American political correctness, which is now affecting and corrupting also Europe’s cultural life. As a conservative Catholic author, I look at this American madness with sadness and concern.
Because I believe that it’s not funny at all, but that this “systemic anti-racism”, the new Achilles heel of Western culture, along with civilizational multiculturalism and pathological self hate, if not stopped on time will bring America to its knees.