After police raided Occupy Wall Street’s encampment at Zuccotti Park last Tuesday, the reported destruction of as many as 5,000 books in Occupy’s “People’s Library” sparked an outcry by protesters and bibliophiles across the country.
“This breaks my heart. This is [expletive] 1984,” an Occupy Philadelphia protester said at the time. “[Expletive] Nazis,” Occupy protester Dylan Bozlee said. Even Salman Rushdie joined the furor: “Nazis destroyed books to ‘purify’ German culture. Bigots do it in the name of God, or Allah. What's Bloomberg's excuse? ‘Hygiene?’ ”
Today, Occupy Wall Street held a news conference about the library, and reported that 79 percent of books were missing or wrecked. The remaining books are reportedly in the condition pictured at left. Occupy’s attorney is demanding that the city replace every missing book.
It’s not just Occupy protesters who care:
Jeff Sharlet, author of “The Family” and “C Street”: “Bloomberg Bibliocide.”
Melissa Gira Grant, freelance writer on sex, technology and culture: “Courtesy of the crack librarians at NYPD.”
Greg Mitchell, writer, the Nation: “I've already replaced my books seized in library raid, also donating some of proceeds from my new Occupy e-book.”
At the news conference, the people's librarian said of the destruction: What are we as a country “if we destroy books?” Some bloggers have pointed out that what we would be as country is living out the society Ray Bradbury presented in “Fahrenheit 451,” in which reading is illegal and firemen burn books.
Not everyone sees the books’ destruction as an issue, however.
“Maybe if you don't want books to be damaged by garbage you shouldn't live in a garbage dump,” conservative editor of Commentary Magazine John Podhoretz wrote Wednesday.