A report by Prevent, a counterterrorism program in the UK, has gone viral for suggesting that classic literature by authors such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien could potentially be “red flags” for far-right extremism. Prevent, a government-led initiative primarily conducted by police, purports to strive to stop individuals from becoming terrorists.
Critics claim Prevent’s focus has shifted from broad counterterrorism to primarily targeting far-right and Islamic extremism. British author Douglas Murray wrote an op-ed in The Spectator on Prevent’s output, specifically referencing a report where warning signs were associated with classic novels such as Lewis’s ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’. Both authors were noted for their strong Christian themes.
Murray also highlights other works on the warning list, including George Orwell’s ‘1984’, Thomas Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’, and books by John Locke and Edmund Burke. He reacts to this, suggesting he is in “good company”.
The Prevent report received criticism online, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk calling it a “crazy thing”. Meanwhile, journalist Haley Kennington expressed incredulity, comparing the statement to controversial claims that ‘math is racist’. A number of other figures, including prominent whistleblower Steve Friend, joined in questioning the implications of the report.