Wednesday 16 October 2019

Ian O'Doherty: 'Golly gosh! 'Racist' Enid Blyton is on the naughty step!'

Enid Blyton
Enid Blyton

Another week and another historical figure gets sent to the memory hole to become an unperson and conveniently forgotten.

Enid who?

Yes, as you have probably seen, Enid Blyton was in the news this week when it emerged that the Royal Mint had abandoned plans to issue a commemorative coin because she was - yawn- "sexist, homophobic and racist".

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Of course, by today's standards, everything is sexist, racist and homophobic if it doesn't tick all the right boxes.

There was a time when we'd laugh at the kind of crank who gets their garters in a twist over these matters. But the lunatics have long been in charge of the asylum and they are used to getting their way.

On Tuesday, the UK's "first professor of black studies" went on TV to have a pop at the writer and declared that: "Enid Blyton was racist. Her books were racist. We shouldn't be deifying Enid Blyton, there's (sic) other things to read."

One might have expected a professor, even one of grievance studies, to realise that putting someone's face on a coin isn't making them into a god, as his use of the word 'deifying' suggests.

But much deeper than that is the simple fact that there is a revisionist war on the past that would drag us all into a barbarous Year Zero if we don't start pushing back.

The entire Blyton-coin debate then, quite inevitably, spiralled away from whether she should be given the honour of a coin with her face on it to whether she should even be read in this day and age.

And wouldn't you believe it, some of those campaigners who objected to the coin then admitted she shouldn't even be stocked in public libraries.

Honestly, you'd swear Malory Towers and The Famous Five were Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries the way they were carrying on.

This was a classic example of performative outrage - an arms race of indignation as people jostle with each other to show who is the most aggrieved.

This was never just about Enid Blyton.

This is about control - whoever controls the narrative controls the culture. Every self-respecting activist knows this, of course. They also know that they will be tolerated because they can scream discrimination if people showed them the scorn they deserve.

Enid Blyton isn't a problem, but the cultural Khmer Rouge are.

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