Like Shakespeare? You might be a right-wing terrorist!
The U.K.'s "Prevent" program, ostensibly in place to protect Great Britain from terrorism, has instead been tasked with hunting down "far-right extremists" (much like the U.S.'s FBI, DOJ, and military). What's more, Prevent recently published a helpful guide to spotting those dangerous right-wingers. Apparently, crazy conservatives can be easily identified by their choice of literature. You see, those people read books like Beowulf and 1984, and also ones by Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. Who knew that works such as these could be "key texts" for "white nationalists/supremacists"?
The U.K.'s Daily Mail recently reported that the television comedies Yes Minister and The Thick of It were also among the "potential signs of far-Right extremism" that Prevent flagged, as was the epic 1955 war film The Dam Busters — and even "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare." (That's coming down hard on The Bard.)
But that's not all: a report by Prevent's Research Information and Communications Unit (RICU) noted that far-right extremists went so far as to promote reading lists on online bulletin boards. My God! And some of these diabolical lists purportedly include books such as The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad, The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Paradise Lost by John Milton, the aforementioned 1984 by George Orwell, and — brace yourselves — the poems of G.K. Chesterton. Moreover, Prevent's RICU also placed films including The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape, and Zulu on its "You Just Might Be a Radical Right-Wing Terror Threat if You Watch These Flicks" list.
For my money, Prevent didn't go far enough. I suggest the following books, television shows, and movies be added to the list of things that likely finger one as an ultra-far-right-wing whack job fascist/terrorist: The Wealth of Nations, Animal Farm, The Federalist Papers, the Bible, The Meat Lover's Slow Cooker Cookbook, Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, Gunsmoke, The Lives of Others, Maverick, and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
The books Prevent listed would constitute a list for someone who wants a civilized, liberal, cultured education — and society — not that of a domestic terrorist. Maybe that is its intent.
The Prevent program is effectively saying that the entire Western canon is problematic or offensive.
And that is offensive...and insane.