Let's Talk About Political Correctness!

*Note that though this post was prompted by a bad review on one of my books, it's not about the bad review. I've had many and mostly they don't bother me. Besides which, it's the job of readers to like or dislike books. It's about the "reasoning" or lack thereof behind it, including the mental binds of political correctness or its reverse.*

I confess of all my various sins - extremist positions, hot-headed eruptions, inability to understand other people's qualms... I'm sure there are more, beyond my loving-kindness and giving disposition, of course ;-) - the only thing I've never been accused of, or never credibly, was political correctness.

The reviews seem to be mostly based on race. This obsession is something I don't understand. Yeah, I realize there are all kinds of issues and abilities that are hereditary (though I'm getting a little tired of psychologists coming out with 'it's all hereditary' books. This will probably be the subject of another rant, later.) Some of them might or might not correlate to skin color. (I rather doubt they do.) They might - and often do - correlate to specific populations that have interbred for a long time. Thus nationalities and subgroups within nationalities might have a character. They might have some characteristics, as a whole. I'm fond of saying "Stereotypes exist for a reason" when I fly off in a rage or when I'm extremely late for anything.

However, human beings are not the average of their group. They are individuals and fall along a continuum. Race means very little to any given individual. Culture does. (And no, don't confuse the two, or I will be angry and you don't want that.) Racial characteristics are inherited genetically. Culture is passed on by learning. Dysfunctional cultures are perpetuated by being taught to each and every new generation. They are extremely hard to break because to do so requires that adults change their minds and let go of national/tribal pride.

Political correctness deliberately - IMHO - conflates race and culture so you can't point at cultures as dysfunctional and so that anyone criticizing a foreign culture can be called racist. This is nonsense. If I adopted a two year old from Haiti tomorrow (which I'd do in a heartbeat if there were a way to do it quickly and at a cost we could afford) he or she would likely grow up to be a science-fiction geek, with an interest in writing or music or art. Impossible not to be in this household. He or she would know everything about science fiction conventions and be familiar with people wearing Spock ears. People carrying magic wands would not even begin to worry him or her. Voodoo, otoh, would be a shock when encountered because memories - if any - would be long gone. He or she would speak English, not the peculiar French of the isle. And though he or she might have - would have! - the natural bend for math or science or literature, or whatever of his or her biological parents, this could be - and often is - molded and changed by living with an adoptive family . I know enough dyslexic writers and scientists who work really hard at their math to know natural ability is only part of the picture.

Anyway, imagine my surprise - gentle readers :-) - when I found out I was being accused of political correctness because the "villains" in the book are all British and the man behind the African "bad guys" is British.

First, let me point out that any book - any - in which all the good guys were white (and if anyone bothers reading that book to the end, the people who appear like bad guys at the beginning, or at least seriously flawed heroes, are in the end the good guys) and the ultimate bad guys were black would not be published. Well, not unless I found a white supremacist press. But BEYOND THAT, it wouldn't be RIGHT.

How wouldn't be it right, you ask. Ah. I'll tell you. It wouldn't be right because it ignores the complex and often inside- out relationship of colonizer and colonized.

I know it has become - of recent years - a fashion on the (mostly academic) left to blame every backward habit, every bad trait, every horrible behavior on the part of cultures that were once colonized (though, my dears, in the "left" [by which - my fitting with neither right nor left -- you must understand IN THIS POST I mean those who swallowed old Soviet agitprop and have yet to purge it from their system] this means something very specific that has nothing to do with having been physically colonized) on the evil western colonizers. This justification is as specious as is the definition of "colonized." Because, my friends, you don't have to go very far back in time to realize EVERY country on Earth was colonized at some point. I have yet to hear Brits blame their ills on those evil Roman occupiers. (I'm not saying it never happened. I've met some Celt supremacists. I am, after all, in Science Fiction and Fantasy.) However, the Politically Correct Left has simplified this by simply claiming that every dark skinned person was ipso-facto colonized and suffering from oppression at the hands of vile Westerners. (This ubiquitous quality of Western culture that can oppress people it barely touched, is like the "influences" causing all all womyn to be "oppressed" even those who by virtue of birth, place or temperament have stomped on male... necks their entire lives.)

(I confess this presents me with somewhat of a quandary, being olive skinned and tanning at the least provocation. Am I half-oppressed, half-oppressor? Half evil, half on the side of angels? It keeps me up at night, it does.)

Which I suppose is why no sane person would write a story set in the British Empire, (much less a fat-book trilogy). Even in a parallel, magic-operated British Empire. And if someone did, she would take great care to put it at the level of pablum, so that the very mis-educated children of our mass-education system would not have a knee jerk reaction to it. Because, like people artists love to mock, these readers don't know history, but they know what is politically incorrect.

However, sanity is another vice I've never been accused of.

I confess - having struggled to portray the relationship of colonization accurately - I expected attacks from the left. Not the right. Ah well, I always surprise myself.

How this series first came to me was under the form of an old-style exploration story. Bwana does Africa. Whatever you want to call it. I enjoyed those greatly at the age of eight or so and thought they needed a fantasy redo modernized for the current age.

So I looked at the facts of colonization. Spent years immersing myself in them.

First of all let's dispose of the left's favorite lie that colonization has something to do with skin color. Colonization - like slavery, dearies - is something humans do. Humans who are stronger and or more numerous than their neighbors will take over their neighbors and colonize them/enslave them/despoil them. If you want to know if you are a colonialist in disguise, check your DNA and whether you're breathing. Are you a homo sapiens? And are you breathing? Then you're a colonialist and slaver in potentia. (It could be argued this has given human beings an edge, since less-efficient/knowledgeable cultures get absorbed by higher functioning stronger ones and their children are brought up in that culture. I won't make that argument. I haven't studied the matter enough to have an opinion.)

When Europe started exploring the world, they were slightly - slightly - ahead of their neighbors in technology. Gun powder admittedly gave them an edge in confrontation. However - in my opinion - what gave them the greater edge is that they had left tribalism behind. When reading about the confrontation of Zulus and Europeans - say - which I did, ad nauseam (literally) I came to the conclusion part of the issue is that the Zulus were thinking of Europeans in terms of an invading tribe. Tribes are limited in number and often knit by familial/clan ties. If you kill a first party of colonizers, the tribe will suffer severe losses and withdraw. Therefore the first strategy of Zulus (and Native Americans, and any other society still mired in tribalism) was to exterminate the first colonizing party and to do it in a way that would have put fear in the hearts of any of their fellow tribesmen... if they'd come from a tribal culture. This miscalculation cost them dearly because the Europeans had gone well beyond this strategy and viewed the massacres as proof that they were facing less-than-human savages and also because Europeans, of course, were not divided by tribes. They united the power of the nation-state and utterly crushed the tribal cultures.

So you could say sociological advances conquered the world... Which meant I had to go way back, to the time when Europe was divided in little nations that were only slightly better than tribes, and implicate the founder of what many would call modern monarchy. Yep. Charlemagne. I made Charlemagne have his emissary steal the eye of the goddess (You knew that would come up, right? I never claimed to have class) and use it to seal all the magical power in Europe (which until that time had been divided in very small amounts among everyone) and bind it to his family line. This made it so - of course - that the power passed through the lines of kings (and their bastards) and encouraged the unity of nations behind the most powerful magician kings.

Would this have resulted in the nations we have today? Probably not. But the limits of narrative world building dictates that the time and the geography be recognizable. So, fast forward to the Victorian era. Because kings sleep around, there are lots of people in Europe with enough magical power to join together and start magical "factories." Textile mills, intercontinental flying carpets, all run by the power of magic.

Queen Victoria is alarmed by this and sends people to find the other eye of the goddess so that they can bind power to HER line this time (and her line of course will behave better, etc.)

Opposing her are the Hyena Men - a band of powerful African magicians who are trying to find the ruby to bind the power to Africa and themselves. So far, note that all the characters in play are tainted. They all want the same thing. Power. There is another European faction trying to steal the ruby for its purposes, which are supposedly (snort) altruistic.

I don't want to give any spoilers, but the Amazon review reveals that the ultimate villain behind the African "villains" is white. So, we'll go with this. First, there is a reason for that particular villain to be the villain. Anyone who has read it can probably raise his or her hand and tell me what it is. It's called "unity of narrative." But beyond that...

Africa - or as a famous science fiction writer who loves the continent once called it "poor f*cked up Africa"(and yes, he got crucified for it) - cannot blame all its problems on colonialism. Even those it can are worsened by the problems it has refused to deal with. These problems have nothing to do with race. They are human problems that linger in Africa (and other places, but particularly Africa), where they might have been perpetuated or worsened by geography and other conditions. (I wouldn't know.) And the chief of them is still and always tribalism.

HOWEVER the west can look in the mirror for SOME of the problems of Africa. And by the west we mean you, intellectuals and politically correct mavens, Lords of "social justice" and other illogical and philologically incorrect terms. (It's a matter for another post, but all justice is - must be - personal.) Granted, many of these ills were caused by your now dead intellectual ancestors, but you should stop perpetuating them already.

A dear friend of mine, whose name I won't mention in this article because if I'm going to get flamed I'll do it on my own, once explained to me the problem of leftist theories "anti-colonialism", "native liberation" and "multiculturalism" in Africa is that it keys in wonderfully with the despoiled and deposed tribal "nobility." They used to be the Lords. Many of them still remember it - it wasn't so long ago grandparents passed stories to grandchildren - and still hate the Europeans who came in and took the power from their fists. Granted, the Europeans took their place at the top of the pyramid. But also granted - and this is one of the benefits (yes, you heard it, benefits) of colonization - their rule was less brutal and - at least for most Western countries - the newfangled thing about human equality and advancement through merit percolated, to some extent, to these societies. The problem is totalitarian socialism/communism takes these children of the nobility and teaches them to rule over the masses "for the proles own good." It teaches them that they are victims and have the right not only to throw out westerners (their problem, if strong enough to do it) but also to oppress their fellow tribesmen/countrymen in the name of social justice and equality. And please, put the hatchet down. Zimbabwe is a good example of this, but Africa is full of less severe ones. It's the old elites, back under another name. (Yes, graduates of the Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow, [Peoples' Friendship University of Russia in Moscow, formerly Patrice Lumumba Peoples Friendship University of Russia in Moscow] I'm looking at you. You should know better. You're not children or mentally deficient.)

Of course, the Western Powers get out of it satellite states, puppet states and colonies by any other name. (No? Ever wonder how many Cubans ended up in the former Portuguese colonies in Africa? As enforcers and shock troops?) This is the second wave of Western colonialism. The first might have had the mitigating factors (there was a lot to mitigate for. Trust me. If you don't believe me look up King Leopold and Belgium. Not saying - again - this is race based. It's what human beings do. It's good to know the range of our species and struggle to suppress it in ourselves. It's not good to attach it to skin color or even long-dead ancestors) of bringing some civilizational ideas/concepts to Africa: reading, writing, states that transcend tribalism, better agricultural techniques and other improvements that varied with place and people. The second wave, however, brought ideology. Largely oppressive ideology (why didn't the Western representative governments, you ask, bring in people to the West to learn about capitalism and democracy? Well, they did. I mean, they did bring in people to our great universities. Did they learn about capitalism, democracy, equality and that engine of human prosperity known as a free marketplace? Oh, COME ON, do you have to ask me? Remember, Universities. Right. "Social justice" and "Western oppression" it was. [Possibly more soft pedaled than in Patrice Lumumba's in Moscow. POSSIBLY.]) It is human too - so much the worse - to embrace ideologies which make one's tribe, people, color, interestingly victimized, helpless and above all "noble."

Armed with this, I created my world. And armed with this - though the Victorian age is a little early for this - I tried to reflect this second wave of colonialism by having the African independence - the almost African supremacy - movement being manipulated behind the scenes by a white potentate looking for... power and manipulating the native sense of injury and victimhood to obtain it.

And I expected to be crucified for it. I expected to be crucified because I show: natives imbued with a sense of tribalism, narrow minded about even other tribes; African racism, (because again, graduates of Patrice Lumumba, the idea that Africans can't be racist is b*llshit. Do you have a pulse? Are you homo-sapiens? Right), self-serving Africans (one of whom is more than a little nutty), and - on the outside - a (heaven help me) "liberated" Masai woman (though I have so many begs in her history it's not even funny.) I expected to be crucified because the Westerners are shown in the end to be in no more error than the Africans. The end of this novel could be classified as "all are punished." I expected to be crucified because in the end the chosen heroes to continue the adventure are both white. If I expected any screams of outrage from the more traditional people, it was about the interracial marriage.

Alas, my expectations were destined to be disappointed. It's not that my opinions pretty much offend EVERYONE, it is that I am forever destined to be surprised by whom they offend and why. Perhaps I SHOULD cave in to political correctness and treat things in a textbook way so no one will get confused. Except then I will get bored and stop writing anyway. Except that I get bored reading much of what's published - for or against - under the pall of this PC doctrine.

This is not to say that readers might not with good reason hate Heart of Light. It's not my favorite book in that series, mostly because I started it ten years before I finished it and because I can see all the places the story was cut and glued together. (When I started it, I couldn't carry a plot in a bucket.) If I had to do it over I'd cut out a good bit of background and history and hide it behind a romance I'd make far more fast-paced. Unfortunately I don't know if it would make it any better. Of the books in that series my favorite is Soul of Fire.

It's just to say that the idea of the book being "Politically Correct" - and of my being attacked for this supposed sin - is so strange (except, maybe, for the liberated Masai girl. But a traditional one would be boring) that it left me confused and annoyed at people using this sort of short-hand to judge books and it prompted me to think again over all of these issues. Thereby causing this article to be written. Which will doubtlessly be called politically correct. And annoy everyone again.

Or perhaps this time I'll be very lucky and I'll be accused of being politically incorrect and the right (left - whatever - you know who you are. Yes, Patrice Lumumba graduates, I am once more looking at you) side will come after me. Go on. At least I won't be bored.

Let's talk about Political Correctness. And then let's dispose of the concept and the mental gags it places on thought, and the knee jerk reactions one way or another, and start using our brains to think about history and culture -- beyond race and logically. Look at everything you read, and even if the message seems obvious, question it. Don't use facile short cuts to come to conclusions. Don't flinch from something because it touches race or culture. Really look at it. Come on, you can do it - at least if you're homo sapiens. And have a pulse.

UPDATE: Thank you Glenn Reynolds, and Welcome Instapundit readers!

posted by Sarah on 01.30.10 at 02:33 PM










Comments

I say, I do like the cut of this woman's jib.

I also like the word jib.

seguin   ·  January 30, 2010 6:46 PM

You are right about the conflation of race and culture. In the 1980s, I remember attending a lecture by a controversial British philosopher named Antony Flew who made exactly that point. Flew asserted that we now often say "culture" when we mean "race." See Antony Flew "Three Concepts of Racism," Encounter 75 (July-August, 1990): 63-6. Of course, that was only part of the reason Flew was controversial. He also made a number of politically incorrect observations of the sort that would later be published in The Bell Curve. Nevertheless, I think that the evidence supports the idea that culture is used instead of race, and that fear of racism, thereby becomes a way in which cultural relativism is forced upon us by the forces of political correctness.

Kurt   ·  January 30, 2010 6:49 PM

Very nicely written; Thanks.

Ring that Bell Curve; Also look at the
new science of genetic tracking of the
(multiple, some scarily recent) mutations
which combine to make us Homo Sapiens.

M. Report   ·  January 30, 2010 7:23 PM

How about including a link to your book?

Michael J. Totten   ·  January 30, 2010 7:25 PM

Great point, and an important one.

Race is inherited, but culture is a series of choices. If we can't criticize cultures, we can't encourage people to make better choices.

TallDave   ·  January 30, 2010 7:25 PM

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John   ·  January 30, 2010 7:26 PM

Culture is what we were put on earth to rise above.

Rose Sayer   ·  January 30, 2010 7:32 PM

Dear Ms. Hoyt: Here we go:

"Note that though this post was prompted by a bad review on one of my books, it's not about the bad review."

Thank heavens. If it had been, all the electrons in the universe wouldn't have been enough for your post.

Next: 'I'm fond of saying "Stereotypes exist for a reason"'

What's the stereotype of the politically correct? Blinkered view, in which everything is viewed through the one lens that graduate school has thoughtfully jammed in your eye, complete with thumb. But there's something else: extreme touchiness, feeding and fed by the mass paranoias of political correctness.

Look through your post. What do we find? This:

"And no, don't confuse the two, or I will be angry and you don't want that."

Nothing like threats to start the process of "reasoning." Continue:

"though I'm getting a little tired of psychologists coming out with 'it's all hereditary' books."

Got any titles that your superior wisdom will condescend to share with us?

"Are you a homo sapiens? And are you breathing? Then you're a colonialist and slaver in potentia."

The "feminasties" as Rush Limbaugh does not quite call them, are going to sue you for swiping their "All men are potential rapists," line of bunkum.

"If I adopted a two year old from Haiti tomorrow (which I'd do in a heartbeat if there were a way to do it quickly and at a cost we could afford)..."

Why does it have to be "quickly, and at a cost we could afford?" Because you'd lose interest almost as quickly, and you don't make enough money doing what you love for you to take on a child? Maybe give up what you love for the child's sake? Nope, that would cramp the high priestess of Hoytism.

"Political correctness deliberately - IMHO - conflates race and culture so you can't point at cultures as dysfunctional..."

What's a dysfunctional culture? The collapse of married families among blacks? If that's dysfunctional, why has this phenomenon spread so widely? Is political correctness itself dysfunctional? Why has it spread so widely, a spread that shows no sign of stopping, particularly in government and academia, though corporate business is joylessly adopting it as well.

I'll agree that political correctness is a menace. But it won't be defeated by rants. It will take far more commitment than typing at a keyboard to finish this monstrosity. Ask George Washington. Ask Gandhi. Ask Martin Luther King. Ask Charles de Gaulle. All realized that their comfortable lives would be gone forever if they took on the task. No whining allowed though they surely faced more daunting odds than most.

Meanwhile I take comfort that in posting this, you've used energy that could have been spent writing fiction, fiction that I will take care to avoid. Who needs book length outbursts of whining, punctuated by rudeness and ill temper? I am dismayed, though, at the evidence you've provided for reincarnation. It can't be coincidence that this bawling comes out so soon after the death of Holden Caulfield's creator.

I'll hope you take these remarks as more penetrating than the more common reflections on your ancestry, gender, sexual/drinking habits or family.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

PS---Mr. Schie, I still think Classical Values is above the average in blogs. No need to do a Harrison Bergeron and weight it down.

Gregory Koster   ·  January 30, 2010 7:36 PM

Don't want to sound like a pinhead, but if you are going to spend so much time talking about a novel or series of fat books without mentioning some titles, or including an Amazon link. Total waste of an instalanche.

Interesting stuff none-the-less.

rjschwarz   ·  January 30, 2010 7:37 PM

"What's a dysfunctional culture? The collapse of married families among blacks?"

No, that's a symptom of a dysfunctional culture.

"If that's dysfunctional, why has this phenomenon spread so widely?"

You think that dysfunctional cultures cannot spread widely?


"Is political correctness itself dysfunctional?"

No more or less than a cancer cell.

SteveM   ·  January 30, 2010 7:55 PM

"Culture is what we were put on earth to rise above."

What do we reach if we somehow rise above culture?

SteveM   ·  January 30, 2010 7:58 PM

" And though he or she might have - would have! - the natural bend for math or science or literature, or whatever of his or her biological parents, this could be - and often is - molded and changed by living with an adoptive family ."


No doubt he or she would have various natural bents.

But we can say with a high degree of certainty that he or she would have an IQ below the American average, and that this would have lifelong ramifications.

SteveM   ·  January 30, 2010 8:04 PM

Gregory,
Largely agree with your comment with one note.

Friends of mine adopted 2 Haitian infants starting 3.5 years ago when the orphans were just babies. They went through all the normal standard required hoops to adopt them from an agency in Haiti. It took a little over 2 years before they could bring them home. I had no idea that this was the norm for such adoptions.

Curtis   ·  January 30, 2010 8:05 PM

Political Correctness is the end of free thought.

BobN   ·  January 30, 2010 8:32 PM

Mr. Koster, perhaps your comments would have more weight if you'd have left of the rants.

Referencing Ms. Hoyt's comment about adopting from Haiti Why does it have to be "quickly, and at a cost we could afford?" Because you'd lose interest almost as quickly, and you don't make enough money doing what you love for you to take on a child? Maybe give up what you love for the child's sake? Nope, that would cramp the high priestess of Hoytism.

Perhaps, if you were to pause for a moment, you might come to the conclusion that she would want to do it quickly to get the child out of horrible conditions, conditions that are quite possibly life threatening. As for being affordable, that is a reasonable statement, is it not? If you can't afford the legal hoops that have to be jumped through for adoption, how can you afford to raise a child? I would much rather have a potential adoptive parent worry about being able to financially support a child than have one use every last dollar she has for the adoption and then not be able to feed and clothe and educate the child. Or is that too much to ask for? You assume Ms. Hoyt isn't willing to sacrifice for a child. Perhaps she is simply a responsible adult who knows that what she wants isn't always what she can have. I, too, would love to adopt but I am not in a financial situation where I can in good faith. Does that mean I'm selfish or irresponsible?

I'll agree that political correctness is a menace. But it won't be defeated by rants. It will take far more commitment than typing at a keyboard to finish this monstrosity.

Gee, I don't know. It caused discussion and thought on the topic. Don't those two things have to happen in order for political correctness to be defeated?

Meanwhile I take comfort that in posting this, you've used energy that could have been spent writing fiction, fiction that I will take care to avoid. Who needs book length outbursts of whining, punctuated by rudeness and ill temper? I am dismayed, though, at the evidence you've provided for reincarnation. It can't be coincidence that this bawling comes out so soon after the death of Holden Caulfield's creator.

Again, you make assumptions without even attempting to verify the facts. How do you know Ms. Hoyt's books are outbursts of whining, punctuated by rudeness and ill temper? That said, you are entitled to your opinion, just as I am to mine. So, avoid her books and miss out on some very good fiction. I'll buy them, read them and enjoy them.

Amanda Green   ·  January 30, 2010 8:45 PM

You don't have to go to Africa to get the same tribalism. Just look at the Balkans, or the Caucasus.
The ethnic cleansing and atrocities on all sides (some more than others) with Serbs, Croats, Bosnians etc came as a rude shock to those of us who were subtly racist, and thought that Europeans had outgrown such things.
It's not the Race, it's the Culture.

Zoe Brain   ·  January 30, 2010 9:31 PM

rjschwartz,

Heart of Light and Soul of Fire are the two titles in the post. The third in the series is Heart and Soul.

All can be found on Amazon with a search for Sarah Hoyt.

Kate   ·  January 30, 2010 9:45 PM

Dear Mr Koster,

Forgive me for mimicking your manner, but since you've chosen the form of response, I shall maintain it.

You said, "Thank heavens. If it had been, all the electrons in the universe wouldn't have been enough for your post."

I'm sure that the immense supply of electrons in the universe can deal with this, especially since I'm given to understand normal electronic devices actually recycle them. I do wonder, given the tone and content of your comments, that you chose to waste time, electrons (you started this meme, sir, I merely continue it), and, dare I say it, a considerable amount of spleen, responding to it.

You said, "What's the stereotype of the politically correct? Blinkered view, in which everything is viewed through the one lens that graduate school has thoughtfully jammed in your eye, complete with thumb. But there's something else: extreme touchiness, feeding and fed by the mass paranoias of political correctness."

And your point, sir? I see a poorly conceived line of attack in which you attach your own prejudices to the issue of political correctness. I seem to recall that the post itself discussed some of the consequences of political correctness with respect to culture, referencing well-known history. It did not attempt to stereotype those who hold politically correct views even though by now some degree of the political correctness virus has infected most of us.

Sarah Hoyt said, "And no, don't confuse the two, or I will be angry and you don't want that."

You said, "Nothing like threats to start the process of "reasoning." Continue:"

I see no threat. I see a rhetorical device playing off the well-established meme of the berserker. Further, in reference to the issue of people confusing culture and race, when one knows the difference it becomes tiresome and yes, irritating if not enraging to see them persistently conflated and confused. Equating culture and race is the most effective tool available to the power-hungry, because of the way it prevents criticism of cultures, thereby locking the people within that culture into their position. A truly evil power-hungry person could then drop a relatively small number of concessions in that direction and claim sympathy.

You said, "Got any titles that your superior wisdom will condescend to share with us?"

This, sir, is pure snark, and unworthy of serious comment. However, I would recommend using a few more electrons and googling 'evolutionary psychology' if you really wish to research in this direction.

You said, "The "feminasties" as Rush Limbaugh does not quite call them, are going to sue you for swiping their "All men are potential rapists," line of bunkum."

Do you fail to see that this is, in fact, a deliberate rhetorical device? Further, it counters the equally ludicrous claims of politically correct thought that all pale-skinned people are oppressors and all dark-skinned people are victims.

You said, "Why does it have to be "quickly, and at a cost we could afford?" Because you'd lose interest almost as quickly, and you don't make enough money doing what you love for you to take on a child? Maybe give up what you love for the child's sake? Nope, that would cramp the high priestess of Hoytism."

That, sir, is beyond the poor manners you have already demonstrated. Has it never occurred to you that "quickly" means that child would be removed from the living hell that is Haiti at present. In addition, consider how cruel it is to the child to spend years knowing that the new parents are waiting and will free them from the limbo of orphanages just as soon as they're able to. There is a reason that a little hope is considered to be a far greater torture than no hope at all.

You said, "What's a dysfunctional culture? The collapse of married families among blacks? If that's dysfunctional, why has this phenomenon spread so widely? Is political correctness itself dysfunctional? Why has it spread so widely, a spread that shows no sign of stopping, particularly in government and academia, though corporate business is joylessly adopting it as well."

Despite your tone being one step short of a toddler with fingers in ears shouting "Neener neener, I can't hear you!" I will answer your demands, Mr Koster. A dysfunctional culture is one that actively denies the reality of its surroundings and attempts to replace said reality with a fantasyland in which current disadvantage is really a sign of superiority. The culture of political correctness is unquestionably dysfunctional, and it spreads for two reasons: it has a superficial appeal to the human sense of justice, and a deeper appeal to human tribal instincts. Forgive me if I sound a little impatient. I had thought something like this would not need explanation.

You said, "I'll agree that political correctness is a menace. But it won't be defeated by rants. It will take far more commitment than typing at a keyboard to finish this monstrosity. Ask George Washington. Ask Gandhi. Ask Martin Luther King. Ask Charles de Gaulle. All realized that their comfortable lives would be gone forever if they took on the task. No whining allowed though they surely faced more daunting odds than most."

Might I ask what makes you think Sarah Hoyt is whining? Must we be all happiness and unicorn emissions while we go about excising the metastasizing cancer that is political correctness? I might add that Washington, Gandhi, King, and yes, even de Gaulle could not have acheived all they did without the ideas of people who did their era's equivalent of "typing at a keyboard".

You said, "Meanwhile I take comfort that in posting this, you've used energy that could have been spent writing fiction, fiction that I will take care to avoid. Who needs book length outbursts of whining, punctuated by rudeness and ill temper? I am dismayed, though, at the evidence you've provided for reincarnation. It can't be coincidence that this bawling comes out so soon after the death of Holden Caulfield's creator.

I'll hope you take these remarks as more penetrating than the more common reflections on your ancestry, gender, sexual/drinking habits or family."

Now all becomes clear. You act as though Ms Hoyt punctuated your sense of superiority (I would say smug, because your comment reeks of it, but that would be impolite), and your response is to lash out with the same kind of ferocity one sees in injured animals. Frankly, sir, reflections on ancestry, gender and so forth might have made more sense and been more amusing.

You said, "Sincerely yours, Gregory Koster

PS---Mr. Schie, I still think Classical Values is above the average in blogs. No need to do a Harrison Bergeron and weight it down."

I hope this is not sincere. If it is, you have contrived to insult both Mr Schie and Ms Hoyt with the appearance of a compliment, and done so apparently without realizing it. Do try to think a little more about your words before your next post, Mr Koster. People may even respect you.

Kate   ·  January 30, 2010 10:09 PM

Interesting! Quite!

You have some thought-provoking points. And I find the multiple, nested, parenthetical digressions quite entertaining.

I'm going to have to pick up one of your books.

Charlie

Charlie   ·  January 30, 2010 10:12 PM

Forget race. The biggest example of 'political correctness' being used for projection is the forbidding of calling feminism what it is : anti-male bigotry that harms women as well.

TTT   ·  January 30, 2010 10:34 PM

Dear Mr. Koster –

At a loss to comprehend the reason for your rant, I find it in the last paragraph of your post:

It can't be coincidence that this bawling comes out so soon after the death of Holden Caulfield's creator.

Ah! Now we come to the heart of the matter, especially when we look a line before this and see: Who needs book length outbursts…

Mr. Koster, you have my deepest sympathy. The author of the first dirty book you ever read has died, and in doing so has proved that he was unable to write any other book length story of any kind. A one shot wonder, that is known as in the trade. And the man was so reclusive! He dodged his fans! So, in your grief, you have felt the need to lash out at an author who is the very antithesis of your lamented dirty book writer.

Sarah Hoyt has published more novels than your hero had anthologies in print. Instead of dodging her fans (or critics), she writes on blogs, engages in lively back and forth discussions on a newsgroup set up by one of her publishers for her fans, and in every way is the quintessential gracious author that your hermit curmudgeon couldn’t bring himself to be.

And Sarah Hoyt’s books are in all different genres! With different characters! No bizarre chronicling on a solitary, dysfunctional, boring family are these! How much that must make you grind your teeth, Mr. Koster. The very idea that someone could do such a thing, of which your hero was patently incapable.

And then, Mr. Koster, you have the nerve to question if she would, in actuality, adopt a Haitian orphan? Based upon what, Mr. Koster? Your personal knowledge of the Hoyt family? The idea that anyone in this age of ever-increasing national debt would take stock of their family budget before embarking on such an enterprise? The idea that an author would share such a personal bit of information with her fans, contrary to what your hero ever did?

So, Mr. Koster, please, twirl your oh-so-sophisticated martini glass, and look down your nose at authors who write, publish, and interact with the world. Sniff your disdain for Sarah Hoyt, who will be unmoved by such juvenile pettiness.


Meanwhile, we who appreciate good writing, and stories with beginnings, middles and ends, and who don’t consider “g*dd*amn” to be an adjective that should appear more than once in any line of dialog, will continue to buy Sarah Hoyt’s books, mingle with her at conventions, and enjoy her wit and personal charm.

Pity that you chose to worship at a lesser altar.

Linda

Linda   ·  January 30, 2010 10:35 PM

WOW! I bow to the sheer eloquence of Ms Kate's rebuttal to Gregory Koster's self imposed critique of Sarah H Hoyt's guest blog. I am far from being as gifted with language as both Ms Hoyt and Ms Kate both appear to be. But then I am a lot more direct also.
From your rant, I can only assume a public school education. I'm sorry. Thank God for the internet, it allows those poor individuals that live in their parents basements/attics (such as yourself) a way to communicate with the world. All hunched over your laptop, the bare bulb lighting your keyboard as you try to squeeze the most vitriol out of each carefully rationed electron that you can. Don't wanna run out now!
You sir, are an idiot. In all due respect. A troll, sheltering behind the anonymity of the internet, secure in the knowledge that you can slash away with your keyboard all the while wishing you had half the talent needed to be the author of 12+ books (award winning also...) of your own. I feel sad for you, really.
Perhaps after a dozen or so such rants (just like this one), you'll begin to have a skill set suitable to get your comic series published? That would be nice. Having a paying job. In the mean time, why not allow the grown ups polite, intelligent discussion...

john

John Wagner   ·  January 30, 2010 10:56 PM

Well, as my grandfather used to say, "If you throw a stone among a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit."

"A hit! A palpable hit!" Ms Hoyt.

JorgXMcKie   ·  January 30, 2010 10:57 PM

About the 'viewed the massacres as proof that they were facing less-than-human savages' line; considering the past history in Europe, and the things a lot of the colonists to the new world were familiar with, I tend to think that- in the early days at least- it may have been more of "Well, if they're going to be that way, let's stomp them", with the 'less-than-human' coming along later. Or from those who'd been more sheltered from what happened in national and ethnic strife.

Firehand   ·  January 30, 2010 11:07 PM

Intolerant, check
ad hominum attacks, check
Unite to crush dissent, check

Y'all ever wonder how PC got started?
Adde parvum parvo magnus acervus erit.

Curtis   ·  January 30, 2010 11:50 PM

If it isn't heredity (mostly) how do you explain the top 100 marathon runners? The top 100 sprinters? All the Ashkenazi Jews who won Nobels? (they are .2% of the world's population and 20% of science Nobel winners)

OTOH there are distributions. Just because 99 out of 100 of a population can't adapt to culture X it does not mean all 100 will fail in that culture.

Have you read The Bell Curve?

The purpose of PC is to get us to avoid uncomfortable truths.

M. Simon   ·  January 31, 2010 2:29 AM

A thank you to Kate for stomping the spleen-venter more comprehensively than I have the time for.

Eric A.   ·  January 31, 2010 4:49 AM

Curtis: Cetera desunt?

Eric A.   ·  January 31, 2010 5:10 AM

Ms. Hoyt. Please tell your publisher that your guest blogging is accomplishing at least one of it's aims. I'll be purchasing your books and checking them out because of these posts. Very entertaining and thought-provoking, thank you!

(Also, bravo on the deep paranthetical nesting. I thought I was the only one who's brain worked this way!)

Lane Raichert   ·  January 31, 2010 6:46 AM

*whose

Lane Raichert   ·  January 31, 2010 6:47 AM

I think we can now move beyond the term "concern troll" and simply refer to such as Kosters.

CGHill   ·  January 31, 2010 11:36 AM

It sounds like a fascinating book and I shall look for it the next time I'm at Barnes & Noble. It's refreshing to see a grownup and three-dimensional examination of the linked phenomena of colonialism and post-colonialism. Too many writers are still working out their Issues with Rudyard Kipling by writing simplistic parables about Happy Jungle Natives and Bad Imperialists (see James Cameron's Avatar for a big-budget version).

Cambias   ·  January 31, 2010 11:56 AM
First, let me point out that any book - any - in which all the good guys were white (and if anyone bothers reading that book to the end, the people who appear like bad guys at the beginning, or at least seriously flawed heroes, are in the end the good guys) and the ultimate bad guys were black would not be published. Well, not unless I found a white supremacist press. But BEYOND THAT, it wouldn't be RIGHT.

The above is pure racism, distilled to 200 proof. The "usual suspects" have been reversed, but nothing else.

Are you seriously proposing that fiction must serve a racial agenda? That fiction that mirrors reality as it sometimes manifests itself -- in which, yes, Miss Hoyt, sometimes all the good guys are white and all the bad guys are black, and never fear, I've already alerted the media -- should be suppressed in service to the feelings of persons some of whose distant ancestors were the denizens of colonies of a more advanced power? That collectivist sentiment should trump the depiction in fiction of circumstances that really do sometimes occur?

Disgraceful.

Francis W. Porretto   ·  January 31, 2010 12:02 PM

'Culture is what we were put on earth to rise above.' -- Rose Sayer

Nope. Culture is what defines people as who they are, to the first, and largely to the second, approximation. You can't 'rise above' your culture, you can only try to adopt a different one, even if its one you created out of whole cloth (which has never happened in the history of the human race, but is I suppose theoretically possible).

Cultures are emboddied and embedded not just in individual choices, but in the languages in which we speak and thin, in the body language and tones of voice in which we communicate, in the architecture and music and stories we tell, and they all interlock. Thus culture comes close to being as hereditary as genetics, except that it's transmitted after birth during childhood.

One can support one's culture, question it, or loathe and try to destroy it (see much of the modern West's academic and elite classes), but nobody can fully escape it.

(The various 'anti-Western' ideologies and groups that thrive within the cloistered confines of the West like to imagine themselves as post-Western or cosmopolitian, but they're actually so parachially Western it's funny. You can find exactly equivalent groups filling the same 'social space' in every stage of history.)

HC   ·  January 31, 2010 1:03 PM

This is all very confusing to me. I'm more of a direct kind of a guy.

My take on the subject is: Wealthy people are by far better off in all respects. Technology produces wealth. Innovation produces technology. Culture provides incentives/disencentives for innovation.

The Human race would be better off eliminating cultures which do not encourage innovation.

Speaking of non-pc. If someone wants to adopt a black orphan baby why go to africa or haiti? Detroit is full of em. As are most other american inner cities.

(Just a thought only periperally connected to the overall subject.)

Everitt Mickey   ·  January 31, 2010 1:03 PM

It's slightly a mistake to say that Europe (or more precisely Western society) outgrew tribalism. Tribalism is the human default, it's there before larger cultures rise and it's what's left when they decline, and it continues to exist within the larger confining restraint of a higher culture while it lasts. Tribalism is real, that is, it rests on specific people and usually on personal relationships without much in the way of abstractions involved. Higher cultures transfer loyalties to varying levels of abstract entity (this is not a bad thing, mostly).

There's a cyclical tendency to this, the Romans had something of the same problem. A Roman force would subdue a region, and the locals would submit, but each side saw the transaction differently. The Romans saw it as the Republic conquering a region, the locals saw it as a promise of loyalty to a specific man, valid as long as he lived but not afteward, culturally they didn't have the framework to grasp the idea of a conquering abstraction.

So when that particular general or politician died, the locals sometimes thought that their practical and moral burden had lifted, while the Romans saw treachery and rebellion.

Dreamy advocates of world union sometimes like to liken nationalism and national loyalties to tribal bonds and tribalism, but this is an error, tribalism and nationalism are different in kind, and both are different from the universalism that underlay the ancient 'world empires' like post-Han China or the Roman Empire.

But under the surface of all human societies, empires, states, cultures, what have you, tribalism always endures, waiting.

HC   ·  January 31, 2010 1:14 PM

'The Human race would be better off eliminating cultures which do not encourage innovation.'

There is no 'human race', there are only humans, as C.S. Lewis pointed out.

And which innovations? What kind of innovations? What about the moral considerations? How can anyone evaluate the right and the wrong without a set of standards transmitted by their faiths and their culture (which are usually closely linked)?

HC   ·  January 31, 2010 1:20 PM

HC

Picky Picky.

OK...."Humanity"....there...feel better?

What kind of innovations? I don't care. It doesn't matter.Some are bad and will expire. some are good and will prosper. (good/bad is a market definition...your milage may vary). The point is that a culture that encourages innnovations. The quest for knowledge. The RikiTikiTavi syndrome....THAT (those...there could be a multiple) is a culture that needs to be encourgaged. All others are for the dustbin of history.

And the sooner the better. This would include all centralist/socialist/top-down cultures.

Everitt Mickey   ·  January 31, 2010 1:34 PM

Francis,

I have to assume you are an intelligent person, although there is no evidence for it in your comment. You see something you dislike, and immediately scream 'racism'. Then you accuse Ms Hoyt of collectivism - without the slightest shred of evidence - and exhibit a woeful lack of understanding of the difference between reality and fiction in the process.

Your claim that sometimes all the good guys are white and all the bad guys are black is, to put it bluntly, bovine excrement. Sometimes history's 'bad guys' are nothing more than the poor saps who were unfortunate enough to lose. Sometimes they really were bad. The inverse can be said of history's 'good guys' - regardless of whether your history is politically correct or not. It just takes a little digging into the primary sources where possible, and the ability to understand the era.

Fiction is not and can not echo reality. In reality, things happen for no apparent reason. In fiction, that makes for lousy reading. We've got an inbuilt sense of what a story is, and that sense requires the good guys to win, the bad guys to lose, and everything in the story to have some kind of meaning or reason. This isn't just fluff, it's universal across cultures (although what makes the good guy good etc. can vary a lot), suggesting that it goes back to the earliest humans. (If you doubt, take a look at the mythology of the cultures that survived to recent eras more or less unchanged, such as the Australian Aboriginals, some of the African tribes, New Guinea and so forth). Recognition that some reality can't be directly translated to fiction is hardly 'collectivist sentiment'.

As to your suggestion that Ms Hoyt is proposing the kind of political correctness you profess to abhor, you obviously did not read the same post I read. It's possible that what you read was not present in this universe, only in the delusions that appear to have been generated by your reflexive denial of an uncomfortable fact.

Do try to do better next time. You might earn a little respect.

Kate   ·  January 31, 2010 2:23 PM

Francis W. Porretto:
"Are you seriously proposing that fiction must serve a racial agenda? That fiction that mirrors reality as it sometimes manifests itself -- in which, yes, Miss Hoyt, sometimes all the good guys are white and all the bad guys are black, and never fear, I've already alerted the media -- should be suppressed in service to the feelings of persons some of whose distant ancestors were the denizens of colonies of a more advanced power? That collectivist sentiment should trump the depiction in fiction of circumstances that really do sometimes occur?"

I don't know you, Mr. Porretto, but I've read enough of your comments on blogs I respect over the years to think that you're not usually the sort to slice one paragraph out of a post and take it as the key to the remaining 92% of it, rather than the other way around. In context, I don't read Sarah (I do know her personally, it seems only fair to mention) as saying that books must serve racial agenda. She's talking about building a world within which to set a story, and the author's job of enabling readers to project themselves into that world by giving it some parallels with what they know of human life.

Against that backdrop, there's no need to deny that sometimes white people are innocent and black people are evil, or that those stories are worth telling. There is a need to point out that fiction set in the Victorian Era that rings true enough to be engaging won't be able to get away with painting colonization as angels vs. devils, in either direction. British colonists had access to a trans-continental organizational structure and had a great deal to lose if the balance of power began to change, in ways that make them much more plausible as the masterminds of this sort of international plot than African tribesmen would have been. Is that point really so controversial? Does it need to involve racism, or the assumption that there's more inherent evil in one ethnic group or another?

And the remark about white-supremacist presses I took to be a sardonic commentary on the state of publishing and what it's possible to sell to editors, not a statement of Sarah's own position on anything. Again, that interpretation strikes me as fitting in well with the rest of the post; one that implies she thinks books with white good guys and black bad guys actually belong at white-supremacist presses does not.

Sean Kinsell   ·  January 31, 2010 3:57 PM

CGHill:

And if one has been the victim of such a troll, one has been a-kosted.

Eric A.   ·  January 31, 2010 4:44 PM

Francis:

There are undoubtedly real-life situations in which Jews are the bad guys and "Aryans" are the good guys. Nonetheless, if I pick up a book with such a dichotomy, I will immediately wonder about the author.

I know, very disgraceful of me.

Eric A.   ·  January 31, 2010 4:49 PM

'The quest for knowledge. The RikiTikiTavi syndrome....THAT (those...there could be a multiple) is a culture that needs to be encourgaged. All others are for the dustbin of history.'

Keep in mind that Egyptian culture endured in a recognizable (albeit evolving) form for three thousand years. China is similar in its longevity.

It's by no means clear that innovative cultures are more competitive in the long run than those that emphasize continuity and stability. Probably there is an optimum rate of change and anything over or below it is harmful, but there's no way to determine it with any accuracy.

Anonymous   ·  February 1, 2010 1:36 AM

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