Protesting Toni Morrison’s ‘Beloved”

I am going to make a bold prediction. If President Joe Biden loses either control over the legislative branch of the government, or if he loses the re-election to the Presidency itself, it will not be because of economics or COVID-19. It will not even be because of the environment or infrastructure. It will not even be because of the faults or unlikability of Joe Biden himself. I have even heard or talked to a few “right-wingers” who themselves admit they have nothing against the president himself. It will be because of cultural politics. Now, I understand that this is tremendously unfair. I am not arguing that, perhaps, if people were wise, they might pick material well-being over, say, making getting COVID-19 vaccinations a badge of political affiliation. Yet there is a lot of truth that the fuel that keeps the right wing of the spectrum going is cultural issues. The idea lodged in some hunter’s brain (I mean a man who hunts deer, to be clear) is that the government is going to “take away our guns.” Some of this might not be able to be helped, but I think that there are people on the left who pour gasoline on these hot-button issues, and that if Donald Trump is toxic masculinity itself, the radical fringes of the left make it just as many enemies as fans.

Which is why I decided to bring up a writer I privately dislike, and why though I might not vote Republican over, I do not particularly want taught in the school system any more than hunters want to give up their guns. Toni Morrison. Now I know what the reader will say, “Well, isn’t that awfully prejudiced, Hadassah? Didn’t she win the Pulitzer Prize and all?” Well, if somebody else is out trying to have Little House on the Prairie books; certain Dr. Seuss books; and thinks even Charlotte’s Web (because the beloved spider dies at the end of the book) are all bad for children, then I want to explain why I have never really liked Toni Morrison.

In High School I was in Barnes & Noble and I came across a book, The Bluest Eye. It was about a little black girl who was raped and who hallucinates about her desire to be white at the end of the book. I did not really hate the book at the time, but I did not find it particularly moving, either. I didn’t leave with any real desire to read more. However, I had only just had my first taste of Toni Morrison.

My next was in a night class for High School age kids. They were average kids, not really Honors English kids but alright for all that. However, I remember one girl read Toni Morrison for her book report. She was black and she commented that the book Song of Solomon involved adult incest between a middle class black man and his daughter. Now, I wasn’t quite clear on why Toni Morrison thought there was something perverse about being black and successful. However, from what I know of her books, there is kind of a trajectory: The Bluest Eye, though not well written by Morrison standards, is almost normal compared to the now infamous Beloved, and then she went out onto a pornographic frenzy–from what it sounded like–in Song of Solomon, diplomatically named after a book of the Bible about romantic love. The girl who wrote the book report did not seem to know why the book was written. Neither did our (black) teacher, “I know, when I read it I just could not believe it was on the best seller’s list.” I don’t honestly believe a single soul there knew why Toni Morrison was a writer.

Now, if somebody honestly wants to read Toni Morrison for herself, I guess it is their prerogative. Yet I am not sure I would want my kid to read it if I had one. More, I think maybe the kids in the public school system should have to take a slip home for their parents’ permission to read the book. I can think of a lot more harmless things that I took home permission slips for when I was a kid–one of them being anti-drug rallies. Now, I know that Morrison has the support of whoever gave her that Pulitzer Prize. Yet if I remember right, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind got the Pulitzer Prize, too, and as politically incorrect as that book is now, I don’t know if I CARE that somebody was sick enough to give Morrison an award.

What I am saying, in this acrimoniously written blog, is that before people who are perhaps well-meaning and liberal foist a new standard of ethics on society which it never wanted (one in which, ala Beloved, infanticide is right or wrong depending on the circumstances), they ought to consider that people may or may not choose to adapt to “the New Normal.” I didn’t really like Donald Trump, but the moment he was out of the White House is when a lot of new changes were made that I never wanted. I know this all sounds like an extremist rant, but I guess after watching enough cable television to last a lifetime, I wonder why the polarizing of politics is not just as present on the left as on the right.

Published by hadassahalderson

I am a professional author who lives in Wichita, KS. I went to Friends University and spent one year at Claremont Graduate University. My published work includes: The Bible According to Eve I-IV and Faust in Love.

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