Since this very month in 1969, “The Anarchist Cookbook” has served as must-read material for a vast swath of discontented youth, as well as a source of passing curiosity or sudden alarm for their elders. But now, its author, educator William Powell, wants it to be yanked from the shelves.
Since he’s not in possession of the controversial how-to manual’s copyright, Powell can’t make that call himself. Instead, he is making his case to the press, telling NBC News on Tuesday that “it is no longer responsible or defensible to keep [‘The Anarchist Cookbook’] in print.”
Powell further articulated his argument against his own book, spurred in part by last week’s school shooting in Colorado, in a column published Thursday in The Guardian:
Over the years, I have come to understand that the basic premise behind the Cookbook is profoundly flawed. The anger that motivated the writing of the Cookbook blinded me to the illogical notion that violence can be used to prevent violence. I had fallen for the same irrational pattern of thought that led to US military involvement in both Vietnam and Iraq. The irony is not lost on me.
To paraphrase Aristotle: it is easy to be angry. But to be angry with the right person, at the right time and to the right degree that is hard – that is the hallmark of a civilized person. Two years ago, I co-authored a book entitled Becoming an Emotionally Intelligent Teacher. Although written for educators, the book serves as an implicit refutation of the emotional immaturity of the Cookbook. The premise is that all learning takes place in a social context, and that teachers with a high degree of emotional intelligence construct relationships with students that enhance learning. I continue to work hard, in an Aristotelian sense, to be more civilized.