Sunday, May 15, 2016

Leftist Writing Expunged From The Norton Reader Between 1973 and 1980

I think there will eventually be a Part 2 of this post, and perhaps a part 3, 4 and 5 as well. I have 4 copies of The Norton Reader, obtained over the years at thrift stores or lawn sales or giveaways. I have the 2nd and 10th unabridged editions, published in 1969 and 2000, and the 3rd and 5th Shorter Editions, published in 1973 and 1980. I've spent a lot of time thumbing through the 5th Edition, Shorter, and being disappointed. I've spent the time because in some important ways -- the thinness and strength of the paper of the pages, the size and heft of the volume -- it's Goldilocks Just Right for me, while in a more important way -- content -- it's very disappointing, very heavy on right-wing bullshit.

I had to come here right away and write this post because today I finally got around to checking on the changes between the 3rd and 5th Shorter Editions, and almost right away I saw that Eldridge Cleaver (American Black revolutionary), Adrienne Rich (feminist), Huey Newton (American Black revolutionary, one of the founders of the Black Panthers), Simone Weil (critic of the traditional Catholic Church), Dee Brown (historian of US crimes against Native Americans) and George Jackson (American Black revolutionary) are in the 3rd and not the 5th. Some time between 1973 and 1980, someone saw to it that these six writers were removed from the Shorter Edition, while the 5th edition has some of the aforementioned right-wing nonsense which is not in the 3rd, like Ben Stein asking, "Whatever Happened to Small-Town America?" (Can you imagine, now, in 2016, someone claiming in 1980 that small-town America had disappeared, or claiming, as Stein does, that no travelers were ever fleeced in America's small towns, as depicted in that Leftist plot, the TV show "The Rockford Files"?) and some men's-rights bullshit from Herb Goldberg.

I just betcha I'm gonna find some further evidence of a lurch to the Right between 1973 and 1980 in the Norton Reader, 5th Edition, Shorter, read by who knows how many American schoolchildren. (That's what makes this historically significant: the huge numbers of students who have read selections from the various editions of the Norton Reader.) I mean, the above instances took me about 5 minutes to spot. Stay tuned. Finding more examples of this shift to the right, and then assessing whether things moved back Leftward by 2000, may turn out to be much easier than finding out just exactly who decided to make these changes and why. But you know me -- I'll try.

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