February 15, 2017

Wrong again, asshole: Anti-Fed conspiracy theorist accuses Sioux Falls library of censorship


If you’ve ever tried to give a total stranger a really shitty gift, and then protested loudly at their refusal to accept your garbage, only to retract your offer after they accepted in an attempt stop your hysterical screaming, you will totally understand what Robert Leneker has been going through with South Dakota’s Siouxland Public Library system for the past year.

The whole sad story began when Leneker wrote an indignant letter to Sioux Falls’ Argus Leader, protesting the library’s failure to keep a copy of The Creature from Jekyll Island, by G. Edward Griffin. The book is a wild piece of right-wing, anti-Federal Reserve lunacy, which Leneker calls “mandatory reading” on the grounds that “the font is large and it is written incredibly well.” He believes that “the book will lead you to the creation of the Federal Reserve, the fourth bank of U.S., the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fabian Socialist organization created by the Rockefellers for a One World Socialist Government, along with the United Nations creation.”

Would that it were true! Lord knows we could all use definitive proof that the election of Donald Trump is the culmination/refutation of a decades-long campaign by the Rockefellers to establish One World Socialist Government. That would really clear things up.

Sadly, none of it is true. It is all bullshit, which you can probably tell just by looking at the cover. But, just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be required reading. And so, in an attempt to rectify the library’s grave error, Leneker nobly offered to donate his copy of The Creature from Jekyll Island, along with a full set of Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of the United States.

Then things started to get contentious. In Leneker’s account, given to the Argus Leader, the staff member on duty told him they couldn’t accept the donation. This really put a bee in Leneker’s bonnet and so he sent another, presumably indignant letter expressing his “disgust” with the library’s failure to accept his donation. The library apologized, promised to do a better job of training staff on library donations policy, and assured him that the library welcomes all donations, but reserves the right to reject those that “don’t meet current” needs.

At which point Robert Leneker lost his cool, sending another letter to the library and to the freaking Mayor of Sioux Falls demanding to know whether or not the library would accept his donation and accusing the library system of censoring alternative material. At which point Siouxland Libraries Director Jodi Fick assured Mr. Leneker that his books would be accepted if they were to be submitted again, and that the library “does not censor material for political reasons” and that they did not keep a list of banned books.

Now? Leneker refuses to donate the book, because he is certain that it won’t be added to the library’s collection. He is furthermore convinced that “anyone who looked at his offer would have said ‘yes’ unless they’d been instructed not to,” which is exactly what a crazy conspiracy theorist or total fucking child would say.

According to Leneker “They’re [the Rockefellers? the people of Sioux Falls? Librarians? it’s unclear] focusing and limiting the knowledge of people who are using their library. Some people don’t like history because they have an agenda.” The first part is patently untrue, but the second bit is a surprisingly profound and tidy description of our own paranoid moment in history, in which our heads of state are simultaneously theorizing an imaginary conspiracy and running a real one.


Note: An earlier version of this piece accidentally confused Sioux Falls, South Dakota with Sioux City, Iowa. We regret the mistake, and are thankful to Tim Gebhart and Gwen Vos for calling our attention to it. For the record, Sioux Falls is about eighty miles north (and slightly west) of Sioux City, and twice as populous. It’s the home of the US’s first Arab-American senator, James Abourezk, and Hägar the Horrible creator Chris Browne, among others,  and has a dope flag:



Simon Reichley is the Director of Operations and Rights Manager at Melville House.