I am continually frustrated by people's desire to bury awkward mementos of the past like a cat hides its shit.
There is apparently a huge controversy in London about Borders shelving a Tintin book, published in 1931 that has very obvious racist commentary.
The article quotes a lawyer stating that: "The material suggests to (children) that Africans are subhuman, that they are imbeciles, that they're half savage."
Fair enough, I think that the book isn't necessarily appropriate for children; but it should serve to demonstrate ways in which the powerful stay powerful through propaganda. That people will say, do, and believe the wrong thing if it is more beneficial for themselves to do so.
We can't re-write history. Breaking Mammy cookie jars doesn't make it all unhappen, it just wrecks cookie jars. Pretending that there wasn't a problem does not erase past mistakes- but it does make it impossible to learn from them. Let people collect Nazi silverware, maybe it will remind how close we came to speaking German.
Acknowledging our past errors and understanding them is how we prevent them in the future. Does this mean that I want to chow down in a Sambo's? No, but we can't go around burning old copies of books, TV shows, or movies because they make us uncomfortable. They SHOULD make us uncomfortable.
I know I shouldn't get all Godwin (again) and bring up this issue (although I don't believe that this should count) but if you look at the way that Germany acknowledges its war crimes and how seriously people there take racism and then look at Japan's constant denials of wrong doing and look at how ethnic Koreans and the country of Korea are treated, both at the official governmental level and at the average Joe level, you will see a huge difference.
Furthermore I would like to point out something a little more disturbing; according to the article, "In [the book], Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi depicts the white hero's adventures in the Congo against the backdrop of an idiotic, chimpanzee-like native population that eventually comes to worship Tintin — and his dog — as gods."
That reminds of something... what could it be? Oh yea, Pirates of the Caribbean 2. Burn the movie! Keel-haul Orlando Bloom!!!!! Rip out Johnny Depp's deadlocks! Oh my gosh, he's a white guy in dreads and he acts kind of gay- and he's a womanizer! O my precious poopkins will watch this and get all confused! Let's sue!
Or what about Will & Grace, surely that is a forward thinking show. Wait, you mean all single straight women need a "gay friend"- that's stereotyping! Let's storm the studio and burn the film.
If everyone wants to look for racism, sexism, and any other 'ism' one doesn't have to go back as far 1931. It isn't Civil War memorabilia that we should be worried about, it's what is on TV right now, what we teach our kids and confirm to ourselves. That liberated feminist women crave meaningless sex 24 hours a day and should chase it in the same way that men are perceived to, but still be incomplete without a man (Sex & The City). That torture is sometimes good (24). Being pretty and stupid is cute and funny in real life (Simple Life).
Paris Hilton being a role-model is what keeps me up at night, not nearly 80 year old books.