The kid has been re-reading Jack London again.
Specifically, Call of the Wild and White Fang.
Call of the Wild has been one of her favorites since she stumbled upon it in her school library when she was six; White Fang she scarfed up a few years later. Just a year ago, she located a fat book at the public library which had, along with Call of the Wild, about fifteen short stories by Jack London.
Well, you know, I'm not opposed to this, exactly. I mean, it's not like she's reading Atlas Shrugged
, is it? Or Orson Scott Card
? How much harm can a little violence porn/Social Darwinism actually do? I read them when I was a kid and I'm (mostly) okay...
When she was six I said nothing.
When she was ten, she had to do a report on an author for school. She had been re-reading Call of Wild at that point too, and beginning to notice London wasn't exactly accurate on wolf or dog behavior. WTF, she asked, though not exactly in that language. I explained a bit about what London was up to. I explained a bit about Social Darwinism. Racism, I said. Politics of the time he lived in, I explained. Eugenics movement, I explained. Not the brightest man who ever walked the earth, I explained, although clearly....
Moo, she said, which has evolved to be our code word for when she has had enough of this particular lecture, Professor Mama, please.
So when it came time to do a report on some author, I ever so casually suggested, hey, why not do Jack London? Then I fiendishly found a couple of excellent (leftist, or as leftist as were available in Pork Smith, Arkansas) kid's biographies for her.
Then I did my best to drop hints while she was writing the report: "Did you read this part in the book?" I would ask. "Did you see this section? What do you think this means?"
So she's reading the books and stories again. And she's asking me questions.
One of the questions she's asked twice now: "Is it okay for me to read Jack London
even though he believes racist things? Even though he's writing about eugenics and Social Darwinism?"
"Yeah," I tell her. "Yeah, you can read him. You should read him, in fact. You need to know what he's saying. But you shouldn't forget what he's trying to do to you. And you shouldn't forget he's wrong."
After a moment, she says, "He's wrong about wolves. That part really bothers me. Wolves don't act that way."
"Well, what does that tell you? If he'll misrepresent those facts, what does that mean?"
"Maybe he thought that was how wolves acted. Maybe they didn't know any better back then."
"Maybe. He misrepresents how dogs act too, though, you said. Right?"
"Which he's doing to make his points about Social Darwinism and Eugenics and which race is superior and how breeding between the races is doomed. He's ignoring facts to score his points," I said. "That's what it should tell you. So, well. You can read the books because they're fun. Just don't forget they're also lies."
Which, well, that's the harm of all porn, I guess: it's based on lies, in order to promulgate some whacked theory, some alternate reality its creator wants to exist. And if he can get enough people to believe it with him -- as the Social Darwinist/Eugenics people did for awhile, as these Teabaggers are doing now -- well, you've got trouble.