Sure, Johannes Gutenberg created the machine which helped guide a helpless civilization out of the dark ages into the modern world, but that doesn’t mean he was without his limitations in forward thinking.
This is the call to action by Students for All, a newly formed NYU student organization who is providing re-education material during these unprecedented times. “It is our firm belief that our heroes of the past may not be the real heroes,” states the organization’s website relearnthehistory.org. Their target? Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg, the inventor and creator of the moveable type printing press.
Credited with bringing the opportunity to share information and educate the masses, Gutenberg is one of the most well regarded historical figures according to the National Education Policy Center, with 55% of Americans acknowledging that he was in fact real. Yet, despite being the father of widely available printed literature, the Students for All group has begun advocating for an reintroduction to Gutenberg and the true reasons he should be revealed or cancelled.
The group advocates for the public to understand that by Gutenberg making printed text available to the masses has allowed for fringe ideas to fester within communities. By sharing books and ideas, the sole purpose of these materials and their proliferation around the world has actually been to keep others disenfranchised. This, as the group advocates, calls for the removal of references to Gutenberg in textbooks without appropriate historical footnotes.
“We just believe that all of our history needs to be reexamined, and it starts with Gutenberg,” shared Students for All member Anthony Carly. “Yes, what he created changed the world and allowed me to be at this school but, similar to Christopher Columbus or Thomas Jefferson, what did he really do?”
“Look at all the trash that has been printed over the years. These ideas are simply meant to keep us oppressed,” shouted an unnamed student on their last Zoom call event. Rallies of mass book checkouts at libraries and blockades of students around NYC newsstands are in the works to keep the printed word from continuing to circulate and spread tyranny.
“We are talking about ideas of oppression… stories of communal norms which prevent us from dreaming… and of course the carbon footprint of printing,” were statements heard on the call from students who aspire to liken the name of Gutenberg to that of Leopold II or Ivan IV.
When asked for comment by leadership within NYU on what would happen if the internet happened to shut down, reenergizing the need for access to printed works, the student group released a statement that they had an unlimited data plan and they were not too worried.