Once upon a time, during Red Scare the First in 1953, Robin Hood was declared a Communist by the Indiana Textbook Commission. Mrs. Thomas J. White, a Republican (what a shocker there) member of the committee, insisted that all references to the book “Robin Hood” be purged from textbooks used in state schools. She deemed this necessary because there was
“a Communist directive in education now to stress the story of Robin Hood because he robbed the rich and gave it to the poor. That’s the Communist line. It’s just a smearing of law and order and anything that disrupts law and order is their meat.”
There’s no doubt that Mrs. White would be seeing Russian bots at every turn in 2018.
She also took a swipe at the Quakers, accusing them of being Commies because they “don’t believe in fighting wars,” and that sort of perverse thinking was just what the Reds wanted so we’d be sitting ducks.
“It’s the same as their crusade for peace — everybody lay down their arms and they’ll take over,” she said.
Because we, as good Americans, cannot be seen as promoting peace.
It goes to show just how ridiculous things got during the First Red Scare that the state superintendent of education felt the need to re-read “Robin Hood” before deciding there was no need to ban it. Almost as ridiculous as believing thirteen Russian internet trolls can swing an election. He did conclude, however, that Communists had twisted the story of Robin Hood to suit their own evil, anti-capitalist purposes.
Back in the U.S.S.R., the Soviets were finding all of this more than a little hilarious. One commentator remarked during a Moscow broadcast that the “enrollment of Robin Hood in the Communist Party can only make sensible people laugh.” The current Sheriff of Nottingham even put his two cents in, angrily insisting, “Robin Hood was no Communist.”
Due to the rampant Rusky paranoia resulting from Red Scare the First, freedom of expression was threatened through the 50s and 60s, and the Land of the Free was host to countless book bannings and burnings. Authors including Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, John Steinbeck, and Booth Tarkington were all pulled from the shelves in the name of democracy without a hint of irony.
In the end, Mrs.White and those of her ilk still believed in the rightness of their cause. “Because I’m trying to get Communist writers out of textbooks, my name is mud. Evidently I’m drawing blood or they wouldn’t make such an issue out of it.”
Or maybe people are quite capable of choosing their own reading material without input from a bunch of self-righteous dingbats and resent the infringement on their constitutional rights. There is that possibility to consider.
Unbelievably enough, there are still legions of people who perpetrate this foolishness, which is why I never leave the house without earplugs and a dumbrella.
And the Moral of the Story is? There’s nothing more American than fascism masquerading as freedom.