CHATTANOOGA PUBLIC LIBRARY
We live in very worrisome times. Yes, despite the fact that it is forbidden to say, there is a strand in today’s Identity Politics racial nuthouse that could accurately be called “Black Privilege.” Black library worker Cameron Williams (also known as “activist C-Grimey”) recently, and astoundingly, tested its limits. Apparently bloated with outrageous beliefs about “white supremacy,” infatuated with what he feels “Black Lives Matter” represents (he has been “one of the lead voices for the Black Lives Matter movement” in Chattanooga), and obviously feeling secure in today’s widespread Black immunity from legitimate criticism, Mr. Williams embraced the well-known icon of historical fascism – literally, book burning — as an expression of his hyper-racial, Black-centered bigotry. No less, he did it in the context of his employment at a Tennessee library!
Williams took two volumes from the library – one by Donald Trump and another by right-wing commentator Ann Coulter – and set them on fire. Literally. How could he ignore this act as an absolute echo of the censorial ritual of Nazi fascism, and that Ray Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451 about totalitarian censorship is renowned for this very reason? (Or, to Williams, perhaps, Bradbury’s white skin underscores that tome’s premise as merely another strangling expression of “white supremacy?”) What sort of library employee literally burns books he doesn’t like, in inescapable homage to a Nazi way of handling alternative views? And what kind of sociopolitical environment today actually invites such a thing?
But Williams didn’t merely burn these books. He obviously expected adulation, support, and encouragement from comrades on the far leftist political spectrum. Why else would he have the audacity to videotape his little personal ritual of hatred and post it on Instagram for fans and admirers to see?
Williams has some reputation in the Chattanooga area. Last July, he and another man, “the two leaders of the ongoing nightly protests in Chattanooga were arrested on two different sets of charges …” One was for “obstructing an intersection and blocking an emergency vehicle” and the other was “in connection with taking the Sheriff’s flag from the county jail and burning it at Miller Park.” Williams was jailed with two others for “vandalism,” “reckless burning,” and “inciting to riot.” Williams responded at a Facebook site, proclaiming that
“CPD and Hamilton County Sheriff Officers are racist, and they are trying to weaponize the jail system to bully protesters … during a pandemic.”
The term “fascist” is bantered about as epithets in political contexts, usually aimed at the political Right. But it’s hard to ignore that Cameron Williams was ultimately fired for his — by any connotative standard — fascistic action in burning library books. (Technically, he was merely fired for destroying library books without permission). There is no doubt, however, many in the library world – and beyond – will rise to somehow applaud him, i.e., that yes, he is a totalitarian, but for a just cause, and the ends justify the means. Another library with ardent “social justice” administrators, another set of empowered and intolerant ideologues, may yet offer him another venue to poison the world.
Williams’ sensational act of censorship has become international news. A British newspaper noted the go-to claim, as always, of “racism” being instrumental against him in his firing:
“Williams, who was arrested for allegedly blocking an emergency vehicle during summer protest in Chattanooga, was placed on administrative leave after the video of him burning the books was brought to library bosses’ attention. He said his firing was racist, and says he and his lawyer had attempted to return or refund the cost of the books destroyed, only to be refused. Williams continued: ‘I was treated as a token black man. But as soon as I speak forcefully for black people, they essentially tried to assassinate my character.’”
“Character?” What character?
“Mr. Williams,” says another British newspaper, “had been asked to help clear the library’s shelves of old, damaged, or untruthful books, to make room for new publications — a process known as “weeding”, in which he had been trained — but the books in the video were not flagged for removal, according to the library.”
As noted above, of course an attorney has quickly come to Williams’ aid, and he is appealing his firing. He claims he was merely removing “old, damaged, and untruthful books.” “A statement from the library on Williams’ dismissal does not mention the book burning but states that Williams ‘violated City and Library policies by improperly removing items from the Library’s collections.’”
A few years ago, such an asinine action would have been impossible to imagine in the marketplace of ideas of free-speech America. Especially in a library context. But it is 2021, ideological clones of this man are on the march, many librarians have Williams’ convictions and zeal, and his rebirth as a renewed – and celebrated — totalitarian in another library context wouldn’t really be much of a surprise.
Or maybe, even more likely, his former library will cave to claims of “racism” and the implicit threats therein, to embrace him, fully, back in the censorial saddle as one of their “social justice” own.