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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

April 5, 2014

I usually find political correctness to be a sometimes amusing and generally harmless activity. Then I saw this.

I'm currently reading my way through Ian Fleming's James Bond novels in the sequence in which they were published (which is not the sequence in which they were filmed) and these books show the casual racism of the 1950s in a way that makes much of the text very uncomfortable to read. Looking at this from 2014 and remembering that Fleming lived in Jamaica among the people he seems to deride and belittle probably adds to the nastiness.

I would not, however, want these books rewritten to today's standards. I was horrified to read that some of Enid Blyton's children's books are being reissued in bowdlerised form, just as I was to see that "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn" have been either banned in schools or rewritten to today's standards.

The first Bond book came out in 1953. Another book published in that year was "The Go-Between" by L. P. Hartley. Most people have not read that book, but everyone knows the opening line: "The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."

Then there's George Santayana ...

[This article originally appeared in The Millenium Project.]

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