In which I laugh at a bigot and then get all shirty about the new-new-new left.
Bigots make me laugh sometimes, they really do. I’ve lost count of the amount of conversations I have had over the years that have panned out almost exactly thus:
Bigot: *”Something racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty”*
Me: “Um, dude, that’s a bit kinda, you know, racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty”
Bigot: “How dare you call me racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty! I just believe *something racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty*”
So the following quote from author John C Wright -an author who was part of the Sad Puppy slate for this year’s Hugo awards- made me guffaw no end. The Sad Puppy slate was an attempt by a bunch of right wing bigoted fuckboys to game the nominations for the awards. They did this on account of feeling that heterosexual white males are an oppressed group in our society who are under represented in the fields of Fantasy and Science Fiction… seriously. The comment was made by Wright on the discussion thread below the absurd apology to the racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty community for a comment made by one of their employees on her personal Facebook profile. You can read about the whole fracas here. Anyway, the comment.
Dear Peter D, and all of you who claim Irene Gallo’s statement was true–
You are saying things you know or should know to be untrue, and you should be deeply ashamed for letting your emotions out of control, tempt you to dishonesty, and for yielding to that temptation.
I am not unrepentantly homophobic. I am nothing of the kind. It is a lie.
I follow the Catholic teaching on same sex attraction and how one deals with it. In public, I have heaped scorn on those who use a children’s cartoon, one I loved, to insinuate their pro-perversion propaganda in a cowardly and craven way.
I have no hate, no fear, nothing but respect for homosexuals.
You and people like you who use the false cloak of compassion for homosexual to lure them into ruining their lives, you are the ones for whom I have no respect. You are the ones who hate them; you are the one who urge them down ever darker paths.
One of my family members committed suicide because he pursued the homosexual lifestyle you and yours continually urge him and poor souls like him to pursue.
You are the ones who offer a drunk a drink before he gets behind the wheel of a car, and when Christian urge sobriety, you claim our motive is fear and hatred for the drunk, not prudence and compassion.
He abandoned my stepsister when she was six years old, and my step brother when he was four.
Your evil, vile, repulsive philosophy of pure selfishness is what I hate, not the homosexuals you use as a shield for that philosophy.
As for the other lunatic assertions of Irene Gallo that you now leap to claim are true — misogynist? neo-nazi? I wonder what St Mary and St Maximillian Kolbe would say if either thought me their enemy.
Racist?I wonder what my daughter, who was born in Chinese to parents who abandoned her, would say if I were racist.
Another one of my family members was wounded in World War Two, awarded a Purple Heart for his efforts in liberating a Nazi death camp.
You know nothing of me, nothing of my life, nothing of what I have known or suffered. Irene Gallo make statements beyond false: they were reckless with hatred, whereas I have ever spoken of her with gratitude and respect for the wonderful illustrations and compositions with which her department adorns the books she and I sell.
I am only the writer. The book is a team effort. Irene Gallo is a member of the team. She has apologized for her lies, and I accept her apology.
I would like you, sir, to do the same, and never dare to libel me again. When you do not know whereof you speak, close your mouth.
John C Wright
Now; have you ever seen such a perfect example of the complete lack of self awareness that near defines the racist/sexist/homophobic/twatty individual? Without missing a beat he skips merrily from “I’m not homophobic” to “Homosexuals are all perverts”. It’s a thing of beauty to see something like this and I think that we should all take a moment to appreciate quite how splendid Mr Wright’s comment truly is.
Have you done appreciating? Good. If you want to read a bit more about the most recent hoo-ha stirred up by the racist/misogynist/homophobe Theodore Beale (the voice of the oppressed straight white male majority) then Jim Hines has a good wee overview here. If you want to read more about the whole Sad Puppy affair then I’m afraid that Google will have to be your friend as I really cba to trawl through the morass that is the SFF scene looking for you. Oh, what the hell, go on then. Click here for more info.
Anyway, I don’t normally pay that much attention to the world of SFF or online fandom or the shit squalls that regularly erupt there as a) It’s bad for my blood pressure and b) I find it incredibly frustrating the amount of effort that people put into online ‘activism’.
The sentiment expressed here by Red’n’Black Salamander on Deviant Art illustrates quite well the frustration felt by many of those on the left who are actually engaged in political activities -or who used to be as is the case with myself. The posturing and showboating that has evolved in the online world, and has in recent years spilled over into the, for the most part, more liberal parts of political activism has had a really deleterious effect on the left. Where people on the left should be focussed on what unites us, us here referring to the working class rather than the left in general (lol, as if that’s going to happen), as workers -the foundations from which we can build the new society- we now see attempts to stratify through definition the working class under the guise of intersectional analysis. An intersectional analysis is a useful tool to have in one’s box if one is studying Sociology or writing academic papers but in the real world it doesn’t translate well, not well at all. In fact one of the reasons that I began my abstention from generalised political activity was the emergence of this approach -along with the increasing popularity of privilege politics- as I saw early on that the praxis that would develop from this approach would inevitably see a return to the embarrassing ‘hierarchy of oppressions’ which permeated the radical politics of the 1970s/80s (before my time -I’m not that old!).
Now, I’m not saying that straight white dudes don’t have it slightly easier than everyone else -we live in a society where the ruling class have fostered racism, sexism, and homophobia for centuries to suit their own ends- but the portrayal of heterosexuality, whiteness, or maleness as privileges has the effect of turning our focus away from the things we should be fighting -oppression, injustice, capitalism and class society- onto those things that we can not, and should not, fight -ourselves. The privileges identified by those who take an intersectional approach are unlike the privilege that 99% of the population think of when they hear the term: economic privilege. Unlike economic privilege these privileges can be neither given up nor adopted –no matter how hard some may try– and so, in practical terms, all a focus on them can do is turn introspection into a form of faux activism. It also has the effect of making those with the privileges the centre of attention -which is probably why it is so popular with white middle class kids- rather than the people experiencing the various manifestations of oppression.
These privileges, as I said, can not be fought as they are things that are, by their nature, inherent. What can be fought is oppression. It is possible to fight racism, transphobia, sexism, homophobia and so on because they are social, not individual, issues. That fight is hard though (if it was easy they wouldn’t call it struggle would they?) and it involves actively participating in political work through which these oppressions need to be challenged as a matter of course. If you’re fighting lay-offs or attacks on working conditions, for example, then you want all in the workplace to stand together as that is what makes us, the working class, strong. You don’t want to only stand alongside straight white dudes on the picket line -you want everyone regardless of sex, race, gender, or sexuality standing alongside one another. It is actual political activity like this that breaks down the walls of bigotry that the ruling class rely upon to keep us divided. That requires actual real world work though, it’s far easier to call someone a *ist shitlord on the internet though and get your ego stroked by a bunch of Facebook likes and retweets.
This lot knew the score.
Now, to segue wildly back towards the topic of the Puppies and internet shit squalls, people like John C Wright and Theodore Beale serve a social purpose. They are there to be mocked and to have the piss taken out of them. That is their purpose and that is the full extent of that purpose. Engaging with them in any way beyond this is a distraction from engaging in actual political activity -something that suits them and their ilk down to the ground- and creating a society that has solidarity at its heart and which therefore would be a place unwelcoming of those who would seek to undermine that solidarity. If that’s what a person wants rather than merely wanting to have their ego stroked.
When people like the Puppies pipe up, as they inevitably will, just point, laugh, and carry on not buying their books.
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