As I’ve written in the past, Charles Dickens created one of the most anti-Semitic characters in literature in Fagin, the greedy leader of a gang that deploys children as pickpockets. Dickens derisively refers to the villain in second reference as “the Jew” throughout Oliver Twist. When the 1948 film version was made, Alec Guinness portrayed Fagin with a stereotypical nasal voice and piled on makeup to create a cartoonishly large nose. However, there are still reasons to read Dickens, and even the more cringe-worthy parts of Oliver Twist provide perspective on the history of casual anti-Semitism in Britain.
If “Gone With the Wind” were wiped away, and other iconic films were to follow, then it would become impossible to have any enduring American culture. People’s standards of right and wrong evolve over time, and to cancel works that don’t fit in with today’s times, would mean constantly purging old works of literature, music, and movies every few years — or whenever they no longer match modern sensibilities.