February 19, 2007

The Political Is Personal

Hatched by Dafydd

A few days ago, I was personally denounced in a blogpost by a person who barely knows me, with whom I'd had no conversation in a dozen years or more, and with whom the only interaction I'd had before that was on an online bulletin board and occasional chance meetings at conventions.

We never had any vicious arguments; I know this for a fact because, by the nature of the software I was using at the time, I have a record of every message I ever posted on that BBS. I have just searched through the archives for every exchange I ever had where I even so much as mentioned that person or the person's spouse; I read every one, and nowhere was there any unpleasantness between us. The closest I came was when I said that the spouse can be very scathing online but is unfailingly kind and polite in person.

And yet I was denounced, and in the most personal, rage-filled way. The ostensible trigger was a blogpost here on Big Lizards (which of course did not mention the denouncer). But the denunciation segued pretty quickly into a very personal (and oddly misremembered) recounting of my time on that BBS, written as if the blog author were on the receiving end of some rather rough treatment from me.

The only problem is -- it never happened. He or she has confabulated the memory or confused me with somebody else.

What strikes me most about the exchange is the reversal it implies in the old feminist phrase, "the personal is political." What they meant was that your politics arises from the circumstances of your life, what a lefty would call your "class interest." Thus, they argued, a rich woman who could afford to jet up to Montreal to get an abortion for her teenaged daughter wouldn't understand why a poor, unmarried woman with a teenaged daughter would want abortion legalized across the United States.

It was always a silly argument; most of the liberal leaders who pushed abortion rights were from rich and privileged backgrounds, just as most (not all) of the Communist revolutionaries were from at least middle-class, highly educated backgrounds... striking against class-interests like a house afire.

But the reality appears to be just the reverse: the political becomes deeply personal. Among a few on the Right and nearly everyone on the Left, a sharp political disagreement with Mr. X causes them to hate and despise Mr. X, and the little dog he rode in on, too.

Bush Derangement Syndrome is a typical instance of this: nothing for which President Bush is attacked, excoriated, denounced, and hysterically feared would even raise an eyebrow if he had the same politics and party as Bill Clinton; I do not recall the Left assailing President Clinton for bombing Kosovo or invading Bosnia and Haiti (to be fair, a small number of individual pacifists did, but not the Democratic Party or the Democratic Left as a whole).

When Bush was elected in 2000, I lost three friends. Each of them put it to me bluntly: either I agreed that he "stole the election," and that Al Gore had "absolute won Florida" -- or I could never speak to them again. I had to choose the latter; what sort of friendship can flourish in the poisoned soil of extortion? But I was shocked.

(My opinion is that it's not mathematically possible to say with any degree of certainty whether Bush or Gore got the most votes in Florida; the count was simply too close. It is impossible for human beings to count objects in the millions without error. But since Bush was ahead when the Supreme Court blew the whistle, he gets to be president. Had Gore been ahead, I would have been unhappy... but I wouldn't have said it was impossible that he legitimately got more votes.)

I see much more of this sort of personalization of political difference on the Left than the Right; for every Ann Coulter, there are a good half dozen Al Frankens, Jonathan Chaits, and Keith Olbermanns. But the Right is not blameless: while it was perfectly appropriate to impeach President Clinton for various high crimes and misdemeanors, nothing justifies the sort of ludicrous conspiracy-mongering exemplified by the "Clinton Death List."

It's true that the former president knows an unusually large number of people who died violently, but there is not the slightest shred of evidence that Bill Clinton had anything to do with any of it: Vince Foster committed suicide; he was not murdered. Ron Brown died in an airplane crash; he was not assassinated, and the crash was not rigged to cover that up. James McDougal died in prison from a heart condition; at worst, he died by neglect... there is nothing whatsoever to justify the risible charge that Clinton ordered his medication be denied him.

There is some evidence (testimonial) that Clinton raped Juanita Broaddrick; but until and unless such evidence is tested in court, we have no idea whether she's telling the truth, lying, or confabulating; and she has shown a marked lack of interest in bringing such a case (which is now long past the statute of limitations). Republicans are not generally the ones saying that "a woman would never lie about rape;" we're the party that remembers Tawana Brawley.

Yet the hatred by the Right of Bill Clinton was bizarre and ugly. I was an anti-Clinton activist, but I never hated the man; I thought he was a wretched president -- I still think he sold out American national security to Red China for campaign cash... but that's a political judgment. I accepted that he was a groper, and he admitted as such when he settled Paula Jones's lawsuit and more or less admitted Kathleen Willey's charges.

But apart from the unproven Broaddrick charge, Clinton is no more a proven lecher than Arnold Schwarzenegger, now governor of California... and I certainly don't hate Schwarzenegger, despite disagreeing with about 70% of his politics.

I believe that Clinton (wrongly) thinks that everything he did was good for America... or at the least, that since he, himself was good for America, therefore everything that was good for him was good for the rest of us. His venality was petty; it was not on the level of a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed or a Timothy McVeigh.

The hatred by the Right for Bill Clinton was aberrant; but the hatred by the Left of everyone to the right of Hillary Clinton appears to be a perpetually renewed virginity: each time they find someone new to despise, it's as though it were the first time they ever saw anyone so despicable.

[Correction note: I mixed up the Thomas nomination, putting him earlier and stating that Reagan nominated him -- hat tip to commenter Karrde; it was of course his successor, President George H.W. Bush. I should also have mentioned the nomination of Sen. John Tower of Texas to be Bush's Secretary of Defense, and the politics of personal destruction that destroyed him; but I must confess I didn't follow that nomination debacle as well as that of Clarence Thomas. What follows is the rewrite of this paragraph.]

I was too young to be politically active (or even aware) during the 60s and early 70s, so I first noticed this intense personalization of political difference during the Reagan administration, when opposition to Reagan took on an almost evangelical fervor. This accelerated during the administration of the rather innocuous George H.W. Bush -- in particular, the persecution and character assassination of Justice Clarence Thomas, when Bush-41 nominated him to the Supreme Court.

At first, the Left was content to oppose Thomas on political grounds. But when it became clear they had failed, and that even in a Democratic-controlled Senate, he was about to be confirmed, the Democrats scrambled about for a weapon. Leftist journalist Nina Totenberg recruited former Thomas employee Anita Hill to charge Thomas with... with what?

It was never exactly clear what she was charging him with; but it was pretty darned disreputable... whatever the heck it was. It wasn't sexual harassment, because she never claimed he pressured her for sex, touched her, or made her think that her career depended upon giving him sex. She and her puppetmasters tried to claim Thomas created a hostile work environment; but she never presented any other witnesses who testified that they thought so, nor did she claim to have objected to it or even refrain from participating.

It certainly wasn't discrimination, unless she meant discrimination in her favor, because he promoted her and offered to bring her along when he was promoted from the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education (DOE) to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). And she certainly did not feel threatened, because she eagerly jumped at the opportunity to follow him in that move... despite being guaranteed, because she was a civil servant (and personally assured by her supervisor) that she could stay on at DOE, keeping her rank and seniority, if she preferred.

Another feminist chum, "Judge" Susan Hoerchner, testified that Hill had called her every day, upset and terrified about how Hill was being sexually harassed by her boss -- and that that boss was Clarence Thomas. But Hoerchner made a very foolish error; she said the calls had occurred while they both lived in D.C., and that when Hoerchner moved to California, they no longer telephoned each other because of the long-distance rates.

Alas for Hoerchner's testimony, Hill did not even meet Thomas until months after Hoerchner moved away; and it was more months after that before she was working for him. So whatever boss she was complaining about, it wasn't Clarence Thomas.

Yet to this day, liberals (and especially black liberals) routinely call Thomas the most vile epithets imaginable, of which the very least is "Uncle Tom." And they repeat as fact all sorts of accusations that were never even floated during the hearings (for example, that Thomas raped Hill, which Hill herself certainly never claimed).

Two Wall Street Journal writers, Jane Meyer and Jill Abramson, wrote an angry, tendentious book titled Strange Justice that interviewed a number of people who hate Thomas (but none who like, support, or defend him). The book is completely unsourced; for every absurd charge, the footnote refers only to private interviews with the person making the charge. There is no independent verification of anything; it just goes on and on, reviling the man up one side and down the other... and by the end, he's thoroughly reviled, let me tell you!

We skip twenty years; this post has gone on too long already. It's a two-decade long unbroken chain of vile personal attacks on Republicans whose only fault is to disagree with the fundamental premises of Leftism, what Thomas Sowell (another "Uncle Tom," according to black liberals) calls "the vision of the anointed." Most recently, when Charles Pickering was nominated to a federal judgeship, Democrats leveled the charge that he was a "segregationist."

In fact, there is no evidence at all that he ever advocated segregation or was a racist; even moreso, he actually fought against just such segregation and racism in Mississippi in the 1960s, testifying against the head of the Mississippi chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, an man who was running around dynamiting businesses and people he didn't like.

Pickering enjoys near unanimous support from black leaders in his home state. But none of that matters: he was being appointed to take the "slot" of a liberal judge... so anything goes. The political turf war justifies any level of invective... even smearing a good, decent, anti-segregationist, anti-racist as a vile, evil segregationist and racist.

When the ends are so cosmic, they justify any means... no matter how repugnant. You can't make an omlet without breaking a few legs.

There is a reason that former leftists or liberals who have broken ranks and joined the other side vastly outnumber those who traveled the opposite route: There are many more Whittaker Chamberses, Ronald Reagans, Robert Heinleins, Irving Kristols, David Horowitzes, and Harry Steins than there are David Brocks (and it's hard not to notice that the former are heavyweights compared to the snarky, gossipy last). The reason is that most people tend to grow up as they grow old. They lose interest in "fan feuds" (modern equivalent: blog wars) and start wondering at the provenance of what they have always believed. They start to think... and thought is the death-knell of fanaticism.

(In an interview in World Press Review, playwright Eugene Ionesco said, "a fanatic can never be convinced, but only converted.")

But there are some Lost Boys (and Girls) who never grow up, for whom the political will always be intensely personal; people who are never content disputing the reasoning of those on the other side but must instead work like the Dickens to destroy them. I mean people like Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Melissa McEwen of Shakespeare's Sister, for whom any political disagreement means a personal war.

The enemy cannot possibly disbelieve the Vision: If Musab Zarqawi is an "Islamofascist," then a person who opposes abortion on demand must be a "Christofascist;" he cannot possibly actually believe that a foetus is a human person! It can only be a Fascist scheme to trap women in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.

I refuse to understand why I cannot like -- or at least be pleasant to -- someone I disagree with. I reject the notion that my positions are so obvious and opalescent that only an imbecile, a madman, or a thug can dispute them. And while I may well respond in kind to an unprovoked personal attack (I'm no Albert Schweitzer), I will not initiate such attacks based entirely upon political difference.

And I will thoroughly disrespect those who do. I wish I could say those for whom "the political is personal" disappoint me; but sadly, no... I have learned to expect nothing better.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, February 19, 2007, at the time of 5:52 PM

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The following hissed in response by: unclebenjamin

Well put.

The above hissed in response by: unclebenjamin [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 19, 2007 7:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Al McAlister

Unfortunately, this is likely to get much worse. Suppose the next presidential election features Hillary Clinton vs. Mitt Romney. Such an election will produce a bitterness that won't be healed in the lifetime of the participants. Don't think Mitt will be nominated? Well, Rudy vs. Hillary won't be much different except the attacks against the Republican will be based on his personal life instead of his religion. Other possible matchups might not be quite as nasty as those two would be, but when people want to personalize political differences they can always find a reason to make a personal attack on a political opponent.

The above hissed in response by: Al McAlister [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 19, 2007 7:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

The problem, Dafydd, is one of Religious Faith. While the Left tend to laugh at the Religious Faith of those on the Right, especially Christians, the Left itself has a Religiously believed Dogma that must be believed. Heretics on any of the mandated positions must not only be disagreed with, but banished, stoned, burned at the stake!!!

Many at the upper levels of thier Church of Leftism can enter into a thoughtful conversation, but at the street level they rely more upon volume of protest (both db and quantity) than in quality of the position.

Feel free to blaspheme, but be prepared for the punishment... and you are correct: We can't act suprised.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 19, 2007 9:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: karrde

Small issue with your above post:

Since Justice Thomas began serving on the court in 1991, I don't think he was nominated by Reagan.

Other than that...excellent post. The opener about the interaction of the personal and the political is very pointed, and very well-written.

The above hissed in response by: karrde [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 19, 2007 9:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Oops, thanks for the correction; I changed the post. And thanks for the kind words!


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 19, 2007 11:16 PM

The following hissed in response by: Terrye

I know plenty of Demcorats whohate Bush and go to Church. Not all people in the Democratic party are lefties, just the people running the thing. The other day I was at some older lady's house and on the coffee table was a copy of John Dean's book, Worse than Watergate. And she really believes all that. She is a strong Christian, never misses church, is not a strong supporter of abortion and is not a member of the communist party. She just thinks that Republicans are rich people who don't care about poor people and they use the government to help their rich friends.

Do not underestimate the resentment some people feel for people with money. But it is personal, no doubt.

Who went after you?

The above hissed in response by: Terrye [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 3:13 AM

The following hissed in response by: HShort

Ole' Dafydd ab Hugh:

You write fairly well and I even agree with a lot of it; however, there certainly is a problem in that you align yourself with the anti-conspiracy crowd who insist that conspiracies are related to witchcraft and since we all know witches can't cross water then all the conspiracies that wrecked havoc throughout the countless centuries in Europe and Asia have never ever tainted our virgin continent. Therefore anyone who ever claims or even considers such a thing is automatically an idiot.

The problem here is that of course conspiracies exist but your group does the monkey see, hear, and say no evil routine so unfailingly that those guilty of the most heinous crimes against humanity are automatically whitewashed and fawned over for having their delicate self esteem so cruelly attacked. Apparently you are incapable of hating anyone for anything. I find that admirable in a monk but disgusting in an adult citizen. There are people who are so craven and egomaniacal that they are simply beast walking on two legs in the form of a human being. They neither know the meaning of the word empathy nor do they care.

You say "I was an anti-Clinton activist, but I never hated the man; I thought he was a wretched president -- I still think he sold out American national security to Red China for campaign cash... but that's a political judgment... His venality was petty..."

Selling out the national security of the United States for cash simply makes him a 'wretched' president with a 'petty' degree of venality? It makes him a traitor, a person to be despised and, yes, to be hated. There is nothing wrong with hatred based on facts; it is a traditional and rightful reaction to traitors who betray their own for their own self aggrandizement, because they put at risk everything we and our ancestors have worked, fought, and died for. I have absolutely no idea where your head is on this.

I also have very different memories of the Hill - Thomas affair. I remember the vicious disgusting hate filled attacks on her by the members of your squeaky clean morally upright Republican party. I remember her as being dignified and believable, while Clarance came across as being anal retentive, guilty as hell, and not about to admit a thing because who gives a damn about what a woman claims. I assure you, the Islamofanatics and the Repubs had nothing to teach each other about how women should be treated. And while I know, because you say so, that you don't hate anyone, especially Anita Hill, your portrayal of the events simply is a continuation of the baseless hate filled attacks on her. Have you ever asked yourself what she had to gain by enduring that circus? Nothing that I know of, except just maybe she wanted the truth to be heard about a man who was being considered for one of the top political positions of this country. Just maybe she cared enough to try and get the truth out.

If you don't believe me that the goody two shoes Rep party can be a hate filled vicious gang of goons just go back and look again at Ross Perot's experience when they attacked his daughter. Made him blink, which was what they wanted, and his campaign virtually ended then and there.

But then I don't understand how anyone can defend any humongous group controlled by lord knows who for unfathomable reasons. There are a few good people who are worth supporting, it makes little difference what political party they may or may not claim membership in. Parties are simply large groups of diverse people and in groups the common denominators are always the lowest. And yes, I'm an independent, and the only politician I'd ever give you a nickel for was governor Hammond up in Alaska.

The above hissed in response by: HShort [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 3:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Selling out the national security of the United States for cash simply makes him a 'wretched' president with a 'petty' degree of venality?


It makes him a traitor, a person to be despised and, yes, to be hated.


I have absolutely no idea where your head is on this.

I believe Bill Clinton is congenitally incapable of separating what's good for WJC from what's good for the USA. He is morally retarded, and I don't hold him to be as venal as, say, Michael Moore or George Soros, who know exactly what they're doing, what they're risking, and who will suffer for it.

I can honestly hate George Soros, George Galloway, Ayman Zawahiri, and Vladimir Putin; I cannot hate Bill Clinton, any more than I can hate a child for stealing all of the pie instead of sharing it among his playmates.

For that matter, I cannot hate Cindy Sheehan, either. She is not responsible for herself, since she has always lacked a moral compass. She is a shriveled, bilious old woman who has thrown away her entire life in order to play queen bee for a few years. Whatever resentment I might feel is swallowed up by the void that looms over her, now that the sands of her hourglass of fame have almost trickled away.

As for the rest of your rant, which you seem to believe is unique and insightful, I'm sorry you've had so many disappointments in life. But taking another piece of what Harlan Ellison calls "angry candy" probably isn't going to make you feel better.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 4:47 AM

The following hissed in response by: Steelhand

Thank you for your differentiation. I voted for Clinton the first time, not the second. It was during my change from Liberal to Conservative.

One interesting part of the Juanita Brodderick charge was the feminist react. They say, "Any claim of rape must be taken seriously." (See the Duke debacle.) As you point out, with Anita Hill, any charge of inappropriate behavior must be castigated. Yet, Ms. Brodderick was marginalized, because the 42nd president was "good for women." So the end justifies the means, as it generally does for the left.

If it is done for a good reason, anything is permissable. If it is done for the "Right reason" it is wrong. And anyone with the power to do things they find objectionable is not wrong, but evil.

We on the right are not immune to this disorder, as you rightly point out. But generally accepted opinion on the right finds the left to be merely misguided, not interested in being evil for evil's sake. It makes it tough to consider options when you presuppose the source makes the option good or ill.

The above hissed in response by: Steelhand [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 6:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

I believe that the proof of your premise is far more simple than what you have induced here. The liberal catechism, regardless of its individual precepts (of the moment) or disconnection with reality, all rest on one single point of faith: that each individual liberal is intellectually and morally superior to all the rest of us. Therefore, any disagreement is, in fact, a personal attack on that intellectual and moral superiority, and cannot be tolerated. How dare YOU question THEM?

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 7:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk


The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

I know which blogpost you are referring to. The commenters who showed up to participate in the echo chamber were a lot less interesting and credible than the magpies who roost in my neighborhood. A cuckoo chimed in as well, to play the misogyny card. I recognized one of the magpies -- I had read some of his "gangster-in-fairyland" stories in my subway-riding days. His comment confirmed my suspicion from back then that he was published more as a result of cozying up to radical feminists than for the quality of his writing.

Illegitimi non carborundum.

(If you feel that this comment grants them too much dignity in the way of acknowledgment, I will not be offended if you redact it.)

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 8:44 AM

The following hissed in response by: ElZee

For HShort--

There are many people who somehow never got the term for "messing up big time" correct. It's not "wrecked havoc," which would mean destroying havoc--obviously meaningless. It's "wreaked (pronounced like reeked) havoc," which means to bring about havoc.

Sorry, but having been an English teacher, I can't overlook these things.

The above hissed in response by: ElZee [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 9:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D


I had a conversation recently with a friend who despises George Bush. At one point he said, "So you think what Clinton did with Monica was worse than Bush starting a war in Iraq?"

I said yes. Clinton literally stopped the country for two years due to his lecherous and venal nature. He could have ended the problem at any time by simply resigning. Bush was acting in his capacity as president to do what he thought best for the U.S.

He was confused, so I gave him an example. Let's say you have two employees. One is not doing his job, having affairs with other employees (in the office during work hours), and giving away information on your company to your competitors.

The second is doing his job, but (with your agreement) ends up losing a lot of money during a business transaction.

Which employee would you fire?

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 9:57 AM

The following hissed in response by: Il Padrino

I also know the blog post you refer to. I'll defer to your unspoken judgment and not make explicit reference to it (I actually found it completely by accident while researching a *different* author on Wikipedia ... was shocked to find such an attack on a blogger I read semi-regularly). But I do want to discuss something the post and huge comment thread raised.

Why is sf fandom so full of doctrinaire, preening, self-righteous intellectual bullies? It's not the first time I've seen flamethreads so overflowing with vitriol (and such threads were the main reason I abandoned the decaying Usenet years ago). But where does it come from? These people are so unaware of their own prejudices and biases that one of them couldn't see the breathtaking hypocrisy in suggesting bloggers like LGF's Charles Johnson be prosecuted under RICO predicates. (Not kidding.)

What are your thoughts? I left the fandom after a brief flirtation a long time ago, but you seem peripherally involved, at the very least. Why the rancor and the absolute conviction of their correctness, branding any malcontents as subhuman troglodytes?

I would not have thought purveyors and readers of *speculative* fiction would be so ironbound in their views.

The above hissed in response by: Il Padrino [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 9:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: Mr. Michael

Padrino, it probably comes from insecurity. I mean, imagine yourself as a writer of Science Fiction. You're being judged sometimes on the quality of your writing and/or your stories, sure. But you've also willingly subjected yourself to the criticism of Arm Chair Scientists. Spelling errors and tense are important, sure, but mistaking one Scientific Theory for another? Pathetic! Absurd! Sophmoric! burn him at the stake!! (Sorry, personal cliche'.)

Now consider that a lot of Sci-Fi is a lightly wrapped morality play; portraying what would happen if such-and-such is the case. NOW you are walking in the world of Moral Dogma. And we've all seen how much wrong can be done by those who are convinced they are Right, capital R.

The above hissed in response by: Mr. Michael [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 10:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: FredTownWard

I think the conditions you are describing are simply Yet Another unintended consequence of the Left's greatest advantage, which is also its greatest disadvantage: the mainstream media driven double standard which holds Republicans to MUCH higher standards than Democrats. In the short term this is always to the Left's advantage, but in the long term it is always to the Left's disadvantage because of the pathologies it encourages on the Left and discourages on the Right, and the longer it goes on, the worse it gets!

Why could the Clinton Haters never even APPROACH the lunacy of the Bush Haters? Because of the almost infinitely greater scrutiny they faced, as did any "normal" Republicans who seemed to be too sympathetic to them.

The result is quite simple and plainly obvious for all to see: our crooks and loons get run out of the party sooner or later; their crooks and loons end up running the party. Only a continuation of the ongoing rise of conservative media can eventually put a stop to it by shining the light of truth on the Democrat cockroaches and then only when Democrat voters demonstrate a willingness to clean house. As things stand now, only two futures are possible: either some sort of leftist dictatorship (extremely unlikely in part because the totally corrupt and the totally unhinged don't make the best conspirators) or total collapse once another important voting block or two figure out how badly they are being conned to be followed by God knows how many decades of attempted reform. Now while this is excellent for the long term future of the Republican Party, it is problematical for the future of the country because as 2006 reminded us, Democrats can still win the occasional election despite for all practical purposes being clinically insane.

The lunatics are running the (Democrat Party) asylum and will be for the foreseeable future. Frankly, one could argue that their last, best hope for success in the near term would for the so-called Rapture to take place!

The above hissed in response by: FredTownWard [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 1:21 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Il Padrino:

The leftward bias of science fiction goes back a long time; the SFWA Grand Master Award, often called the Grand Master Nebula (it's awarded at the Nebula Awards function, but it's actually not a Nebula), was more or less created by then-President Jerry Pournelle in 1975 when it became obvious that Science Fiction Writers of America ("Fantasy" was not in the title then) would never vote a regular Nebula to Robert A. Heinlein... for political reasons.

(To be fair, SFWA, hence the Nebula, didn't spring into existence until 1965, by which point Heinlein was writing much deeper and more literary works that a lot of fans didn't like.)

Science fiction has been politicized since at least the 1930s; but there was a good mix of left and right at least into the 60s. Some magazine ran a survey where a bunch of famous SF authors could sign up either for or against the Vietnam war; as I recall, roughly similar numbers were on each side.

But if you ran such a poll today about the Iraq war -- or even the Afghanistan war -- I think the results would be quite lopsided towards the Left. SFWA and the editorial boards of most SF publishers, like most newspapers and university faculties, are now utterly dominated by leftists, often self-described socialists, Communists, Marxists, Trotskyites, and so forth. Liberals represent the rightmost edge of that spectrum, with occasional isolated dots further right.

The reasons for this are myriad, but I think the key is the "gatekeeper phenomenon": when one side acts as a gatekeeper, only letting its own in, while the other lets in anybody, then within a fairly short period of time, the gatekeeper side controls the entire traffic flow.

There is one more point: There was widespread agreement on many basic issues even among left-leaning SF writers in the past. Old-time lefties such as Fred Pohl and the late Isaac Asimov are very different from the "New Left" that arose during the Vietnam war.

The gap between Left and Right, even on the most basic issues (such as "scientific progress is mostly good"), is much wider today than ever before in science fiction's history.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 2:06 PM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

I also don't understand the hatred expressed by people on both sides of the aisle. Yes, there are a few people I actually hate, but they are ones who have earned it and not because of some group they belong to or might be associated with. And I am also willing to differentiate between people who do things because of mistakes and those who do them to be vicious. In a piece of writing I did I used the following quotations and I think they describes my feeling towards hatred quite well.
"Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated, and this was an immutable law," by James Baldwin. He also wrote the following, "I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hate so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain." Both statements strike me as very true. Deep down people know that hatred is wrong, but they cannot face the pain which accompanies the loss of hate, and so they continue on, destroying themselves in the process. It is so much easier to hate and blame others than it is to accept the pain of recognizing our own failures.
In the end, many of those who express such hatred probably have so much invested in their beliefs that they find it impossible to admit that they might be wrong and therefore anyone who disagrees with them has to be evil. Yet for many, they have never considered that they have never thought through those beliefs and are being used by some very vicious people. In simple terms, they are not smart enough to think and instead try to hold themselves up by becoming rabid supporters of those whom they admire. I actually pity most of them. To be so unwilling to think and question traps you into always being a follower, never a leader. And like a bunch of lemmings, they will follow their leader over the cliff and drown. Truly sad.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 4:43 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Humble Low and Ignorant Insane swamp hermit me am a Muslim now, and all non-believers are Infidels!!!

The closest I came was when I said that the spouse can be very scathing online but is unfailingly kind and polite in person.

If the "spouse" is female...perhaps you should've said that she belongs in a burka, especially when online. Speaking of being online...broadband cable is still not available to my humble hut, so i have accepted a slow 1.5 DSL connection from the rich Infidels (best that they could offer)instead, and am *GRATEFUL* to Allah for providing another choice over dial-up or satellite...so to speak.

If the "spouse" is male, then he is a worser Infidel than his wife, and Allah shall deal with him in time.

Karmic Sword of Allah

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 7:41 PM

The following hissed in response by: karrde

Thanks, Daffyd. (I couldn't let the most entertaining blogger I know be wrong about something so trivial, yet important to the historical veracity of drama that he wished to unfold before our eyes...)

As far as the intersection--nay, refusal to distinguish between--the personal and the political, this is a malady that I see too often.

Do I see it on all sides of our multifarious political spectrum? Yes, but it has become endemic among the slogan-creators and the opinion-spreaders of one particular part of said multifarious spectrum.

And boy, does it make reasoned argument hard.

The above hissed in response by: karrde [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 20, 2007 8:14 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jewels

Ha! I just now realized why your name seemed so familiar. I've read your Star Trek novels, even own a few. You were one of my favorite authors and I never connected your name in this context with your name in that context.

What I find even more amusing is that my good friend, who recommended your books to me in the first place, is a democrat. ::whispers:: I wonder if he knows about your "secret" identity...! ;o)

The above hissed in response by: Jewels [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2007 1:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: CT

I saw the blog post in question. My favorite was the comment on how your views would cost you your soul. Pure comedy.

I've read the blogger in question numerous times. Posts are typically filled with vitriol and the author firmly believes in left wing conspiracy theories. It's a damn shame, but there it is.

Great blog, btw.

The above hissed in response by: CT [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2007 2:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh


Thanks for the kind words... have you read any of my non-Trek novels?


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2007 4:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: HShort

Ole' Daffy:

Your response certainly is almost humorous enough to elicit a laugh... almost. But since you don't seem to understand the position your response put you in let me just mention a few things. First, your post which is the basis for this comment section had to do with your amazement or outrage or whatever, that a former acquaintance had the audacity to dis you somewhere or another recently. You assure us that you diligently went through all your correspondence with this individual and there was absolutely nothing which could be construed to validate this type of reaction. Well, ol' slithery one, if you want others to believe that then don't make your critic's case for him. Case in point your response to my comments:

"..I'm sorry you've had so many disappointments in life..."

Come again? I didn't relate any personal experiences. I related news reports or coverage concerning items you mentioned. My observations that there are beast that walk on two legs in the guise of humans is amply covered by the above, but also by the daily news stories about mothers murdering their children, perverts kidnapping children, drive by shootings, bombs going off in markets, or any of the other million and one examples of human perversion.

What you have done here is raise the old 'this character is obviously mentally disturbed so anything he says you can ignore'. Nothing original or illuminating in taking this tack, the anti-war far left beat this one to death for over thirty years by applying it to the poor stressed out vietnam vet. The thing is, while I understand the lizard brain is pretty much limited to limbic functionality, your giving into that knee jerk reaction makes you the one guilty of making the political personal, which obviously pretty much convicts you of being at the least a hypocrite:

"I refuse to understand why I cannot like -- or at least be pleasant to -- someone I disagree with. I reject the notion that my positions are so obvious and opalescent that only an imbecile, a madman, or a thug can dispute them. And while I may well respond in kind to an unprovoked personal attack (I'm no Albert Schweitzer), I will not initiate such attacks based entirely upon political difference.

And I will thoroughly disrespect those who do. I wish I could say those for whom "the political is personal" disappoint me; but sadly, no... I have learned to expect nothing better."

I didn't insult you or call you names, but you certainly insulted me. Instead of engaging in a rationale discussion you resorted to personal insults, and thereby hoisted yourself on ye ole petard as it were.

Part of the problem seems to stem from your trying to apply your motives and rationales to others. Don't do that. For instance I am not like you. I don't think the same way you do, and what motivates you sure as hell does not motivate me. Case in point

"As for the rest of your rant, which you seem to believe is unique and insightful.."

Original? Insightful? Not at all. It was more along the line of someone giving you a dressing down after finding muddy footprints tracked into the house and all you can come up with is the clever Simpson-like retort of 'Quit your ranting." Hand over eyes, fingers in ears: because Billy Boy had blow jobs in the oval office its immaterial that he accepted money from agents of a foreign power, opened up access to classified scientific and military systems and information to said foreign power, and thus compromised the safety and security of this country. State of perpetual denial in a private world of self-delusion. Not the best debating technique you could have chosen.

And this brings us to the Second item: As a person of integrity and honor, or so you assure us all, you must be someone who keeps his word, right? And you're going to be closing down this blog, right? Why? Well, because you just basically told me that if I couldn't come up with original or insightful comments then my comments are not worth listening to. And since there isn't any original reporting to be seen here, nor anything especially illuminating either, then by your own confessed standards this blog isn't worth maintaining and you will stand by your convictions and shut her down, right.... Actually, don't. While in the world of the real politic this blog has no significance, on a personal level I'm sure it is very important to you.

But since it isn't important to me, farewell. I'm sure you and your self proclaimed public "I just can't help myself when I see a typo" teacher with his/her own obviously highly engaged limbic system will have many a jolly time since you are both obviously so made for each other.

The above hissed in response by: HShort [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2007 6:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: unclebenjamin

Oh for goodness' sakes. Lighten up HShort.

The above hissed in response by: unclebenjamin [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 21, 2007 7:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Big D


Whew, what a pair of diatribes. A tip - writing more doesn't usually make your point better.

Regarding conspiracy claims I always fall back on Sagen's opinion of UFOs - Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I know, if there was proof it wouldn't be a conspiracy. And down the rabbit hole we go.

How about Occam's razor? "Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem" In this case, don't attribute to conspiracy what can be adequately explained by foolishness, greed, malice, human error, etc.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 22, 2007 9:41 AM

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