One author is an island … especially if they are not a progressive

I had another topic in mind for today’s blog, but the tragic events yesterday in Tucson demand a little attention.

Even though I don’t currently live there, I am a resident of the state of Arizona.  I am not part of Congresswoman Giffords’ district but my parents are.  Worse, they frequent that same Safeway store in front of which the massacre took place.  Fortunately, they were at my nephew’s soccer game some miles away when the shooting occurred.  This is a catastrophic event for all involved.  Six people – including a nine year old girl and a federal judge – lost their lives, and many others (including Congresswoman Giffords) continue to fight for theirs.  The full weight of the law needs to be applied to this insane idiot who did the shooting.  I hope they throw him in a hole, exhaust his appeals, and stick a needle in him.

I am saddened but not surprised by the degree of politicization that already surrounds the incident.  Those on the left seek to make this a damning indictment of the Tea Party and conservatives in general.  Those on the right distance themselves from the shooter and condemn the left as opportunistic.  The facts of this event are largely irrelevant; people already have and will continue to twist it for their own purposes.  Rahm Emmanuel (recently resigned White House Chief of Staff) famously said, "Never let a crisis go to waste."  There are those out there doing just that – though let me be clear that I am not accusing the administration of any such thing.  Thus far, the President’s response has focused on the victims, as it should have.

Maybe it shouldn’t have but what did surprise me somewhat was the uniform response of the author blogs I follow.  The underlying sentiment of every one of them was – in summary – "Right-wing nut, Palin creates hate."

Really?  I’m sorry.  I guess I expected too much from my fellow authors, who are supposed to be the smart ones … like rationality, less knee-jerk-ism, and a willingness to let all the facts emerge.  I read Jared Loughner’s YouTube ramblings and I have to tell you, I couldn’t make sense of it.  The guy was all over the place and didn’t adhere to any single ideology.  If I had to sum his philosophy, I would have said, "insane paranoia."  Of course, people with pre-disposed notions will read it and see what they want.  Because Loughner uses the word "unconstitutional" (in describing the police as such, a stance no conservative I know would agree with), people say, "Aha, that’s a code word from the right."

I think it is ironic that many of these people posting at that sludge pool Huffington Post ( Google it, I refuse to link that manure) were the same ones crying that we could not hold any wider group accountable after Nidal Hasan killed twelve people at Ft. Hood last year … despite that fact that there were numerous witnesses attesting to his jihadist impulses before and during the shooting, and his association with radical terrorists.  No such evidence exists (yet) in the Tucson shooting, yet people press ahead.  I shouldn’t be surprised; most of these people use "fascist" to describe the political right when a simple study of the facts reveals that classical Fascism has much more in common with today’s political left than the right.  But then, disabusing people of cherished notions is hard.

As I watched this unfold yesterday and read the blogs, my mind eventually strayed onto tangential thoughts, as it always does (a tendency which I am sure is brought on by skipping across web pages).  I got into this business knowing that most authors and artists are on the left politically.  I know it, I accept it, and I am okay with it.  But something like this – with the accompanying all-but universal response from the writing world – serves as a reminder that I am one of few dissenting voices in the wilderness.

That’s kind of sad, but true:  there are not many conservative voices in speculative fiction right now.  Name some.  Robert Heinlein?  Well, aside from being dead, even though he was somewhat of a libertarian, he espoused one-world government.  Jerry Pournelle?  He himself has said that the political spectrum does not have just one axis (that is, it’s not just right and left).  You can read about it here but he’s not exactly a true conservative (i.e., a classical liberal who believes in individual liberty and small government).  Tolkein?  Yeah but again, not writing anything new (due to death).  C.S. Lewis?  Ditto.  My empirical evidence in dealing with fellow authors tends to bear this out.  I can think of exactly three authors with conservative politics with which I have had some personal dealings.  The rest are all to the left, often to the far left.

So what is the upshot of this rambling?  Let me explain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up:

– Tragedy in Tucson, thoughts and prayers to the victims
– The shooter?  String him up
– Disappointed in watching all these authors I respect take the easy answer, without waiting to know the facts
– Shameful that there is not a more balanced political perspective in the speculative world

So what do I do now?

Write some conservative fiction, I think.  I have a story that I have had gestating for a very long time that fits the bill.  I expect that someone will read it and accuse me of fomenting hate.

Goody.  Confrontation keeps me warm at night.


3 thoughts on “One author is an island … especially if they are not a progressive

  1. If it’s any consolation

    Everything I’ve read seems to indicate that the gunman was mentally unbalanced in a pretty serious way. Holding the Tea Party specifically accountable is kind of on par with blaming Marylin Manson for Columbine. And you have that coming from a serious lefty.

    I admit, I didn’t read up on it more than it took to get the who and what on the day it happened, but the impression I got from the Sheriff’s remarks and from the people I talked to about it after the fact was a general disatisfaction with the hyperbole and vitriol in the last political campaign. I know a fair few republicans who will argue democrats are as bad about this or worse.

    Completely separate from the shooting, I think a lot of people are tired of it, and I think it does a serious disservice to American democracy, again, no matter who does it, when we reduce what ought to be specific intelligent debate on issues to name calling and meaningless slogans.

    I will say that the tea party folks I know are often the worst about this. It’s possible I have a sample bias because liberals I speak to usually assume I’m going to agree with them, and don’t come armed for a shouting match with bullet points in ten syllables or less. That said, I’ve found if you calm down most shouty tea party folks I’ve listened to, they’ll generally go from “socialism is evil!” to “I believe in some government assistance, but the system as it is is broken and needs a drastic overhaul to prevent abuse and a culture of entitlement, and as a whole I believe it should occupy far less of our budget and focus on job training and placement,” which is, dare I say it, a truly reasonable position I think most liberals would also be behind. Nobody actually wants to waste money in the same way nobody actually wants teenagers to have multiple abortions and nobody actually wants crazy people to be able to shoot up a store full of people just because they support the second amendment.

    If we could sit down and have a reasonable conversation where nobody called anybody else a nazi or a racist (or burned anybody else’s political heads in effigy or put them in little jungle cannibal outfits), I think we could actually get a great many more things done. The problem is, we’ve more or less shown that running a mudslinging campaign is how you win (though I’m going to go out on a limb and say Obama not doing so was a huge part of his appeal for me and I think for many others), and that this kind of fearmongering and stupid sloganing is seen as galvanizing a base of support. I think there are enough people more concerned about maintaining political power than doing stuff that this becomes a go-to solution.

    Anyway, just my thoughts. I meant to write something on your poetry entry, but it got eaten.

    And I really can’t argue with you on the literary point. Science fiction and fantasy seem way to the left of the general political curve, especially on social issues (even if they did seem to be trying their darnedest to make things hard for minorities and women like Delany and Tiptree there for a while).


  2. Hey, thank you

    Well, thanks for letting me get that off my chest! It’s something that frustrates me terribly. Consolidated, I think my whole point was the division between parties seems to me to be much smaller and less of a problem than people whose business it is to elevate one side over the other would have us believe, and I’d like for us as a nation to be smarter than to let them trick us into a shouting match.

    And hey, thanks for your own thoughtful post as well. I know it can be frustrating to believe something a lot of your peers don’t, especially when there’s an echo chamber effect. It’s lonely and it makes you want to bite people sometimes. But in all the years I’ve known you, I’ve never seen you lose your head about it or be unfair. It’s why I’ll come back and read and talk to you, whether I agree with you or not.

    Rock on, man.


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