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Professor who is seeking to edit Huckleberry Finn has an interesting history

January 7, 2011

You know a story is not always all it seems and there is always something beneath the surface.  Yesterday I blogged about the effort by Auburn University (Montgomery) Professor Alan Gribben to release what he calls an “updated” version of the Mark Twain classic Huckleberry Finn.  As I wrote yesterday, Gribben will be removing all mentions of the “N” word and replacing them with “slave” and will be making other “updates” to the book, in an effort to return what is a highly misunderstood book to the classroom.

It was no surprise to me therefore to see some right wing sites comment threads calling out the action as another dark and deviant actin of the Progressives.  For example, Glenn Beck’s The Blaze had several commentators make this and similar assertions (BTW for any Beck fans out there, I actually agreed with some of what beck said on his progra, yesterday evening regarding this – not all but some):

snowleopard3200 {cat folk art} Posted on January 5, 2011 at 10:03am

Once again the Progressives are rewriting history of this great land, we have made severe mistakes in the past and need to learn the truth of them, so as to avoid repeating them. This PC garbage has to end once and for all.

Cobra Blue Posted on January 5, 2011 at 10:33am

The liberal progressive agenda requires rewriting the historical record for the benefit of the young skulls full of mush. Wouldn’t want them grow up know truth….best to be indoctrinated…

mikem1969 Posted on January 5, 2011 at 10:37am

The progressive re-write of history and the disease of PC strike again.

And then I saw this from another commentator on there:

PubliusPencilman Posted on January 5, 2011 at 10:40am

Hahaha! Go ahead folks, jump to conclusions without actually knowing anything about anything.

If any of you had done even a tiny bit of research, or if (dare I to dream?) The Blaze had offered even a tiny bit of background information, you would know that Alan Gribben, the editor of this edition, is a conservative! In fact, he has been at the center of at least one PC-related controversy. Feel free to look up George Will’s 1990 article “Radical English,” where Will talks about the Gribben incident at UT Austin. Better yet, if you are really lazy, just go ahead and Google “Alan Gribben Conservative” and you’ll see all you need.

Now to be fair to The Blaze they were not the only major media outlet to neglect to research on the background of Alan Gribben – even I as a blogger was quicker to comment on the actions Gribben was taking in relation to Huck Finn than I was to look into Gribben himself.

PubliusPencilman was not the only person to mention this.  SGUF‘s forum on which I posted a thread about the subject, also shed more light on this. Poster jaypee said:


This essay written by Alan Gribben doesn’t really cast him in a positive light

He seems to be a conservative with a persecution complex. I say seems to be, because one can’t make a judgment about someone based on only one of their writings (unless the writing is something along the lines of Mein Kampf*), but these are his views, expressed in his own words. He talks a lot about being attacked by “progressives”, speaks disparagingly of “hippies” and “political radicals”.

My interest was peaked.  So I read the essay jaypee linked to. Seems Profesor Gribben was once against revisionism before he was for it. He had “publicly opposed the redesigning of a University-required first-year Rhetoric and Composition Course, English 306O”. (Wiretap) One of his many “gripes” within his 5,611 words essay was:

The main program of the academic dogmatists revolves around what could
be termed the five “D’s”:

1. Deny–the existence of any radical “Politically Correct” presence on campus. Deny the possibility of “facts,” “proof,” and objective “truth.”

Gribben also populates many points within his essay concerning “Marxists” and “Leftists” who are working against him:

Like the hippies who played at poverty and anti-establishment dress, these Marxists sense that their trendy intellectual poses can be repackaged or scrapped at any time — here, then , is a low-risk splurge with lots of enrichment potential in the present situation…..

“We face a committed enemy.” Usually me, later someone else, often a dean or a provost. Always this was supposedly the person who was endeavoring to ruin the “progressive” record of the department —
a reactionary, a “conservative.”

Doesn’t sound very “progressive” to me as certain The Blaze readers would contend.  I could go on pulling the references to Gribben’s persecution complex but it really serves best to view the man’s words and paranoia for yourself.  It’s also interesting that where constantly through this essay he rails against “Political Correctness” – he is now doing the same himself – attempting to revise history, and attempting to change a narrative by glossing over a story, therefore removing it’s important context.

Now whether Professor Gribben was justified in his comments in the essay is a matter of more being around at the time and witnessing the events that led to that essay, although as jaypee says and I agree it “doesn’t really cast him in a positive light”. And it smacks of hypocrisy that this man while ready to himself be responsible for “redesigning” a classic and misunderstoof piece of literature instead of attempting to educate people as to why the phrases etc used within Twain’s work are justified or not, has in the past rallied against “Political Correctness” himself.

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 7, 2011 4:01 pm

    will he rewrite shakespears merchant of venice next; changing the jews name to binladen – maybe ?

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