All I wanted was a book to explain the history of Chanukah to children. Was it so much to ask? I know Judaism is a small religion in this country, but I had been to a very big bookstore.
The children’s section took up most of the second floor. An entire library was devoted to the Gruffalo, one to the Hungry Caterpillar, and another to Dr. Seuss. Fair enough. Then I found the reference books. As you might expect, it was full of dinosaurs, animals, nature, anatomy, and maps. Most of it, however, has been devoted to politics.
It was not labeled as such, perhaps because the Conservatives did not recognize that was what it was. There was a section of biographies of people who were clearly meant to be role models. Several were uncontroversial – Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Rosalind Franklin – even though the text inside was a load of poorly written slag.
But among them were texts about the life of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Vice President Kamala Harris, whose primary qualification for inclusion appeared to be that they were women, Americans and leftists. What has this to do with the interests or educational needs of a normal British child, I couldn’t tell you.
Then there was what I’ll call the Greta Thunberg section. You can buy seemingly countless hagiographies of the Swedish teenager, as well as a variety of books explaining why children should become activists because “silence is not an option!” There were books about the “heroes” of the NHS, a deeply irritating shelf of cod feminism with titles like Rebel Stories for Rebel Girls and books praising Black Lives Matter.
There was a book which I think must have escaped the fiction section, but which could have made a good political tome, called Calm down, Boris! (Blurb: “Boris is a very endearing monster. If only he hadn’t gotten carried away …”)
And then on the floor, occupying a modest half-shelf, I found the books on religion: a few children’s Bibles, a book on Islam and a few Christmas stories. That was it.
An assistant searched the store – Hatchard’s on Piccadilly – and all surrounding Waterstones stores, including the nearby 200,000-pound, five-story Monster branch. If I wanted a children’s book on recent political fad, I was in luck.
As for the Hanukkah books, they had several, she found, but they sold out. Since there is a demand, they might be able to restock one, if the child indoctrination section has room. It’s just an idea.
I couldn’t help but feel that my visit to the bookstore was part of a scheme in which we subject the most vulnerable and impressionable part of society to our most radical experiences.
Comic book crusade ideology, unnecessary vaccination of adolescents, and compulsory masks in schools when not required in offices or bars: these things speak of a civilization with unhealthy neuroses and without the will or power. common sense to protect our children.
The promoters of this sort of thing are probably fooling themselves into thinking that they are passing a sense of responsibility on to the next generation. What they are really doing is using children as a dumping ground for all their guilt and fear. But the kids don’t vote, so it doesn’t matter.