What’s up with anti-book sentiment in the Carolinas these days? Last week I wrote about a library director who got rid of a book she found yucky and then pretended to explain why while not explaining why. Now there’s a North Carolina congressman who doesn’t want a community college library to get the books from a federal grant it applied for.
The grant is called Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys. It’s an NEH grant in collaboration with the ALA to get 25 books and a few videos about a wide range of Islamic topics into 1,000 libraries. It’s an interesting array of books, from histories and biographies to novels and books about art. Seemed like a well rounded collection, being given to a small library that probably couldn’t afford them otherwise.
So why oppose the grant?
Why he opposes it is hard to say for sure. It’s hard to pin down politicians on anything. Because he’s a politician, I assumed he was lying because I saw his lips moving in the video, but that’s probably not fair, so let’s take a look at what he says.
He wants to claim it’s not because he doesn’t like Islam. He’s fine with Islam, because “[fellow congressman] Keith Ellison from Minnesota, he’s a friend of mine, and he’s a Muslim.” He obviously patterned that after the popular, “I’m not racist. I have a black friend. You wouldn’t know him. He lives in Minnesota.” It sounds pretty persuasive to me!
Maybe he realized that made him sound kind of suspicious to people who aren’t fools, so he came up with a much better argument.
“It is appalling to me that a federal agency like NEH is wasting taxpayer money on programs like this,” said Jones. “It makes zero sense for the U.S. government to borrow money from China in order to promote the culture of Islamic civilizations.”
That’s actually pretty good. That “borrow money from China” line is amusing and accurate. The only problem with it is that it can be applied to just about anything the government does.
For example, Members of the House of Representatives, who apparently have ceased to function as a governing body, still get paid. It makes zero sense to borrow money from China to pay Members of Congress to not get any work done.
For that matter, North Carolina gets $1.08 from the federal government for every dollar it contributes in federal taxes. It hardly makes sense to borrow money from China to give money to North Carolina. They should just support themselves like good hard-working Americans and quit sucking so much from the federal trough.
Anyway, he then undermines his best argument with a complete lie. He says he’d rather see the $150 million spent on other things, like remodeling or building schools in his community, because remodeling a school is a good example of the humanities.
The problem is, the book grant isn’t $150 million. That’s actually the entire NEH budget, including its operational funds. So either he foolishly believed the NEH was spending its entire budget on Muslim books, or else he’s lying to score political points.
Or maybe he just wants to shut down the NEH and spend the money remodeling schools in his district. My vote? No more federal pork for NC. Remodel your own darn schools!
It’s true that for this year $9 million of that $150 million is for “Bridging Cultures” initiatives, but they include many other projects.
So what did Muslim Journeys cost? I couldn’t find a figure, but the books provided cost approximately $627 retail, that’s in total, not each. There were 842 grants awarded of a possible 1,000. Thus, the books alone, provided they were bought at full price, cost $527,934.
Since it’s the government, and government is inefficient (a fact proven by Congress every day), let’s up the total for the book and overhead to an even $600,000. That’s a lot of money, but it’s nowhere near $150 million.
In addition to the funny math involved, he also makes the dubious claim that Christianity is treated unfairly in America, and this grant is another example of it. The majority of Americans and American politicians nationwide are professed Christians, ⅔ of the Supreme Court Justices, Christian churches are tax exempt despite participating in politics, and, um, Christianity is treated unfairly?
Okay. I guess if “treated unfairly” means “not everything is about me” then it is. Otherwise, give us a break, unpersecuted majority religion. Poor babies.
Because of the alleged unfairness, he wants the library to receive an equal number of books on Christianity if it accepts the 25 books on Muslim issues. For fairness and balance.
The kind reader who sent me this apparently checked that community college library catalog for books on Christianity and Islam (assuming a keyword search here). Results: 126 for Christianity, 76 for Islam.
Uh oh. So he can work up the proper moral outrage at the lack of fairness, someone should tell him that even with 25 more books, there are still more books about Christianity than Islam in the library. Thus, he should probably donate yet another 25 books on Islam.
Here are a couple of books he might like, written by “an internationally recognized [by religious right end-of-times wackos] speaker and expert on Biblical prophecy and the Middle East.” Sounds like just the thing to inform the inquiring minds at that college. Based on the comments, most of the readers are crazy people, but crazy people go to college, too. Don’t they deserve books to read?
Then he couldn’t even make his dubious complaint that having a book about something Muslim is inherently “promoting Islamic civilizations.”
Another problem solved.