26 March 2021

They're Repressing Me!

Public discourse is getting… weird.

Not all that long ago — or that far away — this video expressed the Left's view of how its members were treated in public discourse. But in a bizarre rewriting of history, the Right now claims the dubious virtues "granted" the Left in the 1960s and 1970s. The Right now claims that any criticism of its precepts, let alone of its heroes, totally destroys the credibility of the critic on all subjects.

I've observed this increasingly on message systems and boards for writers and other creators in the past fifteen years or so. The Sad Puppies (better, the Mangy Curs — because, well, they were and are) were just one, particularly vile symptom of the ideological Right's special-snowflakeness. What bugs me the most about the phenomenon, whether it's Left, Right, or Upside-Down, is that too often these loudmouths forget that what they're saying is not contextless.

For those screeching that any criticism of Ronald Reagan is "knee-jerk banner waving" and/or otherwise unjustified,1 remember that part of Ronald Reagan's legacy is his wife. His second wife (and all of those "beautiful white faces," which is far from the worst).

For those screeching that any criticism of corresponding, iconic figures on the Left who rose to power is similarly inappropriate, remember that their Close Personal Friendstm are usually no better.

For those screeching that any criticism of a Black postcolonial leader in Africa is similarly inappropriate, remember that among them were/are Idi Amin, Robert Mugabe, and Juvenal Habyarimana (who is usually classed as a "moderate" there!).

For those screeching that any criticism of a female leader is similarly inappropriate, remember that among them were/are Maggie Thatcher (of the Battle of Orgreaves), Eggdwina Currie, Christine Lagarde, and Jiang Qing.

And so on. <SARCASM> These various heroes have no baggage. Just ignore that line of U-Haul trailers (some the size of double-length articulated lorries) behind them… </SARCASM>

Context matters. What you think your hero stands for may not be what someone else thinks that same hero stands for. Consider how the Iroquois thought of George Washington. And if your experience base is different enough from that other person's experience base, you might both be right… and don't expect everyone to follow the course espoused by Aaron Burr in Hamilton and not stand for anything, for the sake of not offending anyone. The only way to tell who's really King involves determining how much fecal decoration he has; even that doesn't mean he has two coconut halves to bang together (or, maybe, it does…).

For those who nonetheless demand that politics be kept out of the arts, out of the lives of artists, I commend to you an aphorism by a true hero of the Left (who definitely had feet of clay himself): "The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude." And it is a political attitude that cannot be accepted by the powerless, inside or outside of Room 101.

  1. Who disproportionately had little or no true adult responsibility during the Reagan Administration, and in particular had little or no adult authority during the Reagan Administration. Those of us who did in my experience tend to be much more skeptical of the hero worship. Even among the conservatives.