Swedish authorities are removing some editions of the classic children’s book series, Pippi Longstocking, from libraries over concerns that a term cited within the books could be perceived as racist.
The series of books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, which first began in 1945, is considered to be a staple in children’s literature for its empowering and unconventional female character. The stores have been adapted to film and TV in the decades since they were written and translated into dozens of different languages.
According to Breitbart, the council of the Botkyrka municipality is “destroying” the books after removing them from libraries. The council first claimed that it was simply removing them because they were “worn out” or “outdated,” and had to be removed to make room for other, newer titles.
The officials later admitted that they were replacing older versions of the books over perceived racism.
“The libraries in the municipality of Botkyrka have culled editions of Astrid Lindgren’s ‘Pippi in the South Seas’ where there is an absolute expression that can be perceived as racist, but Botkyrka Library has also bought the publisher’s new edition of the book from 2015 where the obsolete expression has been replaced by more contemporary expressions,” the council said in a press release.
Newer versions of the books omit the phrase “king of the Negroes” or “negro king,” replacing the terms with “king of the South Seas.” The term was originally used to describe Pippi’s father.
A Swedish journalist, Janne Josefsson, was the first to raise an issue over the removal of the classics. Speaking to Expressen, the journalist said that the classics should be allowed to survive in their original format because it allowed the book to serve as a historical relic for the language people used in the ‘40s.
Josefsson believes that the council is getting rid of the books for ideological reasons, as a part of its new “intercultural policy.”
The journalist also accused the council of burning the books—it’s a claim that they have since denied, but has yet to explain what they are doing with the removed copies.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter.