Political Correctness/Totalitarian Humanism

The Narcissism Of Woke Totalitarianism

“Anyone who thinks the terrifying trend of posthumous censure will end with Roald Dahl is dreaming”

The publisher of the late British children’s author, Roald Dahl, has changed hundreds of words and passages in his books to make them politically correct. “Language related to weight, mental health, violence, gender, and race has been cut and rewritten,” reported The Telegraph, whose journalists compared 10 of Dahl’s books from 2022 to their 2001 versions. “Remember the Cloud-Men in James and the Giant Peach? They are now the Cloud-People. The Small Foxes in Fantastic Mr. Fox are now female. In Matilda, a mention of Rudyard Kipling has been cut, and Jane Austen added.”

The racially sensitive censors even removed the word “black” as a descriptor of inanimate objects. “In Fantastic Mr. Fox, a description of tractors, saying that ‘the machines were both black,’ has been cut. In the new Dahl world, it seems, neither machines nor animals can be described with a colour.”

The censorship by Puffin, which Penguin Publishing Group owns, drew a sharply critical response from journalists and authors. “Roald Dahl was no angel,” tweeted Salman Rushdie, “but this is absurd censorship. Puffin Books and the Dahl estate should be ashamed.” Seethed Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator, “If you weren’t worried about cancel culture before, surely this egregious assault on some of the best-known children’s books of the modern era, this posthumous purging of an author’s output, will change your mind.”

Many on Twitter posted a quote from George Orwell’s 1984, his famous novel about a future totalitarian dystopia. “Every record has been destroyed or falsified,” the novel’s main character says, “every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered.”

Totalitarianism is a strong word for the censorship of children’s books. The changing of “The old hag” to “the old crow,” “Chambermaid” to “cleaner,” and “You must be mad, woman!” to “You must be out of your mind!” in some kiddie books is hardly on par with the censorship of totalitarian regimes. And Dahl himself made his books less offensive, re-writing the Oompa-Loompa characters in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory so they were no longer African.

But Dahl would have been horrified by the hundreds of changes made by Puffin. “His relationships with his editors included marked fractiousness on Dahl’s part,” said his biographer. “He resisted interference.” Re-writing an author’s books without his consent, whether for legal reasons or because he is dead, violates the trust between authors and publishers everywhere. That such censorship is coming from within media, educational, and research institutions, in addition to governmental ones, doesn’t make it less dangerous, and may make it more so.


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