A few weeks past the 75th anniversary of the first massive book burning rally in Berlin, John McCain chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate. As one of her first acts as Wasilla mayor, Palin inquired of the town librarian what one would need to do to ban books from the library. When the librarian refused to assist her, the librarian’s job was threatened.
On May 10, 1933, students from the Wilhelm Humbolt University in Berlin, egged on by Nazi leaders, pulled all ‘subversive’ books from their University library, cast them into a lot near university grounds and began burning them.
Germans burning books in Berlin in 1933
For several hours, additional books, mostly by Jewish authors, were tossed into the bonfire to the accompaniment of the singing of Nazi party songs and a speech by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
In what is an amazing foresight, almost a century before the book burning in Berlin, one of the most famous German language poets, Heinrich Heine, was quoted as saying "Where one burns books, one will soon burn people."
Spokespeople from the McCain/Palin campaign have tried to slough off the incident between Palin and the librarian, saying the inquiry about banning the books was just “a rhetorical question”. I cannot imagine anyone asking that kind of a horrific question as a philosophical exercise.
This incident and others have started to earn the serious concerns of many people. Former Democratic New York mayor Ed Koch, famous for his independence (He endorsed and campaigned for George W. Bush in 2004 and was one of the architects of bringing the Republican National Convention to New York in 2004) has said of the Palin book banning incident "Any time someone goes to the library and says, 'I want to ban books,' and the librarian says 'no,' and she threatens to fire them -- that's scary," Koch went on to say:
I have concluded that the country is safer in the hands of Barack Obama, leader of the Democratic Party and protector of the philosophy of that party. Protecting and defending the U.S. means more than defending us from foreign attacks. It includes defending the public with respect to their civil rights, civil liberties and other needs, e.g., national health insurance, the right of abortion, the continuation of Social Security, gay rights, other rights of privacy, fair progressive taxation and a host of other needs and rights.
If the vice president were ever called on to lead the country, there is no question in my mind that the experience and demonstrated judgment of Joe Biden is superior to that of Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a plucky, exciting candidate, but when her record is examined, she fails miserably with respect to her views on the domestic issues that are so important to the people of the U.S., and to me. Frankly, it would scare me if she were to succeed John McCain in the presidency.
If McCain wanted to choose a female running mate, why not choose Kay Bailey Hutchinson or Elizabeth Dole? I’m not going to pretend I like either of their policies, but I know they have national experience. I know they aren’t fanatics. I know that the idea of banning books would never occur to either of them.
If elected as an elderly John McCain’s Vice President, Palin could easily end up as President. The President of the United states commands not only the country’s armed forces, but a powerful, sophisticated and technologically strong cadre of intelligence organizations, the CIA, NSA etc. The thought of a person who would ban books in command of the military and intelligence apparatus of this country is terrifying. Everyone should heed Heinrich Heine and Ed Koch’s words and vote for Barack Obama on November 4th.