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IJ Reilly
Mar 18, 2005, 10:19 AM
More PC, right wing style.

El Segundo's City Council rejects plans to name two new reading rooms in the town's library after Christie and London.

They say one was non-American. And the other was un-American.

So a plan to name new reading rooms at El Segundo's public library in honor of authors Agatha Christie and Jack London has been ordered shelved by the City Council.

"I'm a great fan of Agatha Christie. Murder mystery novels is what I read. But she's a British citizen," said Councilman John Gaines.

"And I'm also a great fan of Jack London. I read all his books as a kid. But quite frankly, he was a world-renowned communist."

Other council members agreed Tuesday night, ordering library staff and advisory board members to come up with a list of authors' names that might be more suitable for library doors in the beachside city south of Los Angeles International Airport.

"Agatha Christie is a legendary mystery writer. But she has no connection with El Segundo," Mayor Kelly McDowell said Thursday.

"From the modern-day perspective, Jack London's political views would not be seen as mainstream, certainly not in my community," McDowell said. "El Segundo is frequently referred to as 'Mayberry.' This is a conservative city with traditional values."

The names of Christie and London had been proposed for two small reading rooms recently constructed with a $321,000 grant from the council. Library staffers and advisors had recommended naming two other new rooms "Parkview East" and "Parkview West" because they overlook a city park.

"I think the Parkview names are great," Councilman Carl Jacobson said.

The council's rejection of Christie and London shocked city library director Debra Brighton. She told panel members that the authors were endorsed by library supporters who considered numerous other writers.

"Jack London was a California native author, extremely popular and probably the highest-paid author of his time," she said. His books are "on all the classic lists."

Brighton said London denounced socialism "in the latter part of his years."

As for Christie, she's "the queen of crime" whose books have been "only outsold by the Bible and Shakespeare," Brighton said. And "I wanted a woman representative as well as a male."

The name controversy was causing rumbles — and grumbles — in the library's main reading room Thursday. Nearby shelves contained 64 Christie books. Only seven London volumes were on display, however.

Library visitor Randy Hood, an Oakland warehouse manager vacationing in Los Angeles, was studying bus schedules at a table a few steps from what would have been the Jack London Room.

"I'm all for the Jack London name. In Oakland we have Jack London Square. He's a very popular guy up there," Hood said. "Where I'm from, he's revered, not reviled."

At a reading table, El Segundo resident Lee Sevilla was supportive of both Christie and London.

"It's ridiculous. They're both great writers, wonderful authors. People know who they are. If you tried to name the rooms after local authors, people might not know who they were," said Sevilla, an artist.

El Segundo officials may have a tough time settling on suitable alternatives, warned professor David Killoran, English department chairman at Loyola Marymount University, a few miles north of the library.

"You can't do anything these days without offending someone. You really have to do your political due-diligence. Are there any unsullied American authors?" he asked. "It would be hard off the top of my head to name a writer who would be everybody's notion of all-American. Writers by their very definition are troublemakers."

London and Christie might have the last word on the controversy, however — even though they died in 1916 and 1976, respectively.

"If one sticks too rigidly to one's principles, one would hardly see anybody," Christie once wrote.

Could London have been urging library supporters to go with their gut instinct — and fight for it, if necessary?

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club," he once wrote.

El Segundo officials agreed on one thing Thursday. They won't be able to close the chapter on the dispute before the new reading rooms are dedicated one week from today.

http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-library18mar18,1,3539007.story

mactastic
Mar 18, 2005, 10:54 AM
Uummmmmmm yeah.... Aren't most great literary figures people who've come from outside the mainstream? I mean come on, aren't most of whom we'd consider great American literary types more often than not the tortured soul? Steinbeck? Poe? Twain? Hurston? Dickenson? Faulkner? Hemingway? Frost? Thoreau? Emerson? Fitzgerald? I mean come on, None of those that I know of could come close to being called someone who had traditional family values.

I suppose they could call them the Ayn Rand rooms and the PC crowd would be happy.

And FWIW, To Build A Fire and The Call of the Wild are both read by HS students, at least here in CA. I never detected any red-leaning philosophy in either of those stories.

Thomas Veil
Mar 18, 2005, 10:59 AM
"I'm a great fan of Agatha Christie. Murder mystery novels is what I read. But she's a British citizen," said Councilman John Gaines.

"And I'm also a great fan of Jack London. I read all his books as a kid. But quite frankly, he was a world-renowned communist."

..."Agatha Christie is a legendary mystery writer. But she has no connection with El Segundo," Mayor Kelly McDowell said Thursday.Wow...at last a series of arguments which I can answer with a single word:

So???

What a bunch of dumb***es. Maybe on those bases, they could just ban Christie's and London's books outright. Their nice little community could hold a bonfire and burn them, and ethnic, political and intellectual purity would be upheld in their pleasant little town.

miloblithe
Mar 18, 2005, 11:08 AM
When I lived in Russia, I found it incredibly interesting the list of American authors that Russians who grew up in the Soviet Union knew about. Jack London was absolutely at the top. Why? Well, people I talked to said that it was because he was a frontiersman and his writing about Alaska translated very well to the Russian experience in Siberia. Why else? When I mentioned he was a communist, people there said shrugged it off. I mean, he wrote about dogs. This isn't Upton Sinclair we're talking about.

zimv20
Mar 18, 2005, 11:35 AM
they should name the rooms Koontz and King and carry on with their sad little lives.

no, wait, they should seek corporate sponsorship, and end up calling them the Penzoil and Pringle rooms.

Taft
Mar 18, 2005, 11:56 AM
First and foremost, I'd like to say that Jack London was NOT a communist. He was a socialist. There is a big difference between the two and it really gets my goat when the right wingers get the two (intentionally?) confused. Communism is a form of socialism (an extreme form, IMO, what with its lack of private property and all).

Second, I agree with Thomas Veil: why should it matter? Are we not a country of opposing viewpoints? And if those viewpoints don't advocate hate, violence, etc., why should we shun those who hold them? Isn't dissent a vital part of our democracy?

I fear this is just another attempt by the right to reform history to their own skewed perspective.

Taft

IJ Reilly
Mar 18, 2005, 12:11 PM
they should name the rooms Koontz and King and carry on with their sad little lives.

no, wait, they should seek corporate sponsorship, and end up calling them the Penzoil and Pringle rooms.

I like that suggestion, considering what El Segundo has going for them (oil rigs and the roar of climbing 747s). They also fail to mention that Jack London basically drank himself to death. Not exactly the best role model for the kiddies.

I wish the El Segundo City Council luck finding any great authors who are associated with the city. At this point, they'd be fortunate to find any who are actually being read there.

Xtremehkr
Mar 18, 2005, 03:04 PM
"From the modern-day perspective, Jack London's political views would not be seen as mainstream, certainly not in my community," McDowell said. "El Segundo is frequently referred to as 'Mayberry.' This is a conservative city with traditional values."


I didn't realize that there is a requirement for views to be "mainstream." Whatever that means these days it is completely stupid to describe a place as being both "mainstream" and 'Mayberry.'

Exactly what and whose traditional values are being quoted here. The political right have become very bad at Democracy, not so good with sharing.

Democracy to me is not all that much different from socialism. In fact, it's considered to be a form of it in some circles. Just another name, but more palatable apparently as it does not have the same connotations as socialism.

Why Socialism, by Albert Einstein (http://www.monthlyreview.org/598einst.htm)

Is it advisable for one who is not an expert on economic and social issues to express views on the subject of socialism? I believe for a number of reasons that it is.


Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.


But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called "the predatory phase" of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.


Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.

Sayhey
Mar 18, 2005, 03:30 PM
First and foremost, I'd like to say that Jack London was NOT a communist. He was a socialist. There is a big difference between the two and it really gets my goat when the right wingers get the two (intentionally?) confused. Communism is a form of socialism (an extreme form, IMO, what with its lack of private property and all).

Second, I agree with Thomas Veil: why should it matter? Are we not a country of opposing viewpoints? And if those viewpoints don't advocate hate, violence, etc., why should we shun those who hold them? Isn't dissent a vital part of our democracy?

I fear this is just another attempt by the right to reform history to their own skewed perspective.

Taft

Great post, Taft. Not only wasn't London a communist, but in many areas he was a reactionary. He may not have coined the term "Yellow Peril" but he was one of the most well know advocates of restricting immigration from China. London may or may not have been a great author, but his mixed bag of politics is hardly germane to the discussion of his literary legacy.

As to Christie, what does her citizenship have to do with anything? Since when should library reading rooms only be named after the native born? Maybe we better chuck that Billy Shakespeare guy. I hear he may not be a real american too.

IJ Reilly
Mar 18, 2005, 04:21 PM
Great post, Taft. Not only wasn't London a communist, but in many areas he was a reactionary. He may not have coined the term "Yellow Peril" but he was one of the most well know advocates of restricting immigration from China. London may or may not have been a great author, but his mixed bag of politics is hardly germane to the discussion of his literary legacy.

As to Christie, what does her citizenship have to do with anything? Since when should library reading rooms only be named after the native born? Maybe we better chuck that Billy Shakespeare guy. I hear he may not be a real american too.

I fear you are seeking logic and reason where it cannot be found...

Ugg
Mar 18, 2005, 09:41 PM
As to Christie, what does her citizenship have to do with anything? Since when should library reading rooms only be named after the native born? Maybe we better chuck that Billy Shakespeare guy. I hear he may not be a real american too.

Next on El Segundo's agenda is to ban all books not written in America by American authors, then of course will come the cleansing of those written by authors who don't agree with their "conservative values" which will lead to one book left in the library, the bible. Well, maybe a few of coulter's and limbaugh's and joe mccarthy's bile.

Is it really coming to this?

LethalWolfe
Mar 19, 2005, 02:14 AM
This is by far one of the stupidest things I've read in recent weeks. The logic (and I use the term oh, so loosely) going on south of LAX is amazing.


Lethal

mactastic
Mar 19, 2005, 02:14 PM
How about a Bukowski room? He lived down in the LA area....
:p

IJ Reilly
Mar 19, 2005, 02:52 PM
How about a Bukowski room? He lived down in the LA area....
:p

Good thinking! He probably went on a bender in El Segundo at least once. The city could even erect a statue to him, but to be accurate, it'd have to be posed prone or slumped over a juke box.