You know, the slow-mo disaster on the link I posted (About the British Veteran who escaped nursing home with medals to go attend D-Day celebrations in France) continued, with someone else coming to yell at me for sharing a link from UKIP. Now, to my knowledge, UKIP isn’t Britain First and vice versa. I also know next to nothing about UKIP and very slightly more than that about Britain First. Nor do I propose to spend my time researching it. After all, British parties are British parties. I can’t vote on them. What I hear about them is filtered through their papers and ours.
Two things I do know, before I get to the main point of this post:
1- I’ve seen Portuguese parties referred to here as “far right” which are in fact undefinable in the American spectrum. What passes for “far right” in Portugal is, economically social-democrat, if not socialist. It’s also morally extremely social-conservative with overtones of heavy Catholic enforcement. Now, several things about that squeak me (pretty much all of it, actually, which is why when I was in Portugal, I voted monarchist, because they had no chance. It was a “none of the above” vote.) but NONE OF THEM fit into American politics. We have socialists and we have socons, but the two don’t normally unite (save in a fringe of the Democratic party. Yes, I’ve met some.) America simply doesn’t have a “right wing” like Europe’s “right wing.” Heck, I’m not sure “Right wing” translates between various countries in Europe. (More on that later.)
2- Any American presuming to know anything about any other country’s politics, their implications and their substratum, at a remove, filtered through two sets of fairly left wing media (I’m not guessing you know, 90% of them vote for the most socialist slate they can find. And the left tends to be more uniform across countries than the right (or what gets called right in the local lingo). That’s because they’re internationalist (at least in their own minds. More on that later, too.) is about as well informed as when Europeans presume to advise us on our politics and living conditions. (Yes, I know, a lot of people take the European scolding for gospel. This is a strain that has run in American culture from the beginning, but it is now dumber than ever. Do you even realize most other countries don’t get how our country is organized, or the difference between federal government and state? That all of them, pretty much (except maybe China) are incapable of understanding the vastness of the US? Or the cultural variation state to state? I find it hilarious to have my brother admonish me on our uniform culture “you only have one cheese and one type of bread” when that’s almost 100% true of Portugal, unless you have tons of money, and has no application here. Or when he tells me about how frightful our crime rate is. Guys, I’ve left my car unlocked in the driveway, with my purse in it (because stupid) and found it intact in the morning. In Portugal… Let’s not go there. But see, those crimes aren’t reported, because the police is on the take, so in the end, their statistics look better.) I’m not saying no country can know anything about another country, I’m saying what we know is often very wrong. The US believed Soviet self-released statistics until the whole caboodle collapsed.
Okay, those points are disposed of. Let’s now move on to the meat of this post.
I’m sick and tired of people coming along and flinging poo and everyone cringing and distancing themselves. You know exactly what I mean: calling someone a Nazi, or homophobic, or anti-woman.
Larry has got tarred with that, and I’ve got tarred with that. Why, some idiot Twattertwitter guessed my entire politics from my national origin and (her presumption about) my age (I’m actually about 20 years younger than she thought. In fact, closer to her own age than she thought. This was arrived at by a process akin to reading tea leaves. All this while I make absolutely no secret of my political orientation which is “that government governs best which governs least” and also “Don’t tread on me.” Which immediately invalidated her clever-idiot presumption that I was a “Nazi” (That this was said by someone from Germany is just the ironic irony jam on the irony cake.)
But see, she probably (I presume. Unless German education cooks brains in their case) doesn’t believe that. It’s probably impossible to be that stupid and that unable to do any research at all. She just thought that if she called me a bad enough name, I’d shut up and stop calling her on her bullshit.
This is the same thing that the people who came on my facebook page wanted. “Oh, Americans don’t know much about British parties. I’ll say these people are just like Hitler. They’ll apologize for even mentioning them, and they’ll cringe in my presence forever more.”
There is a time it would have worked. It’s not that far distant. In my school days, it would have worked immediately and I’d have shut up SO fast. But even in more recent days it almost worked.
Anyone else who remembers the blog that shall not be named, whose owner lost his mind in the blog wars, will know that his first sign of dementia was to start sniffing out guilt-by-association and looking for signs of “racism” and “white supremacy.”
Some of the things he found out almost kind of made sense. If you talk right wing in Northern Europe, you’re going to find a lot of people with vaguely fascist (of the “attended same class” type) associations. Oh, you’ll find them on the left, too, but no one talks about it.
At that point in his descent into madness, I was cringing and thinking “But I liked that blog. Oh, no. What’s wrong with me?”
Do you know what stopped it? His post on the Celtic cross. I kid you not. This man went through archives of photographs and every time one showed a Celtic cross knickknack or jewelry or whatever, he decided they were part of a mega white-power conspiracy extending across Europe.
I might have bought that, but for two things: first, I was raised in Europe. The Celtic cross is mostly a symbol that you’re bookish and a bit of a romantic (in the literary sense) and want to have something that looks classy and old. Second, I belong to the science fiction community. Our tables at cons are filled with celtic cross stuff of assorted descriptions. In fact, when he published that post, I’d been hankering for a silver celtic-cross pair of earrings I did not have the money to buy at a con the weekend before. And last I’d checked, SF/F whatever the Social Justice Whiners with their Glittery Hoo Has say, is NOT nor has it been for at least seventy years even slightly tainted with white supremacy, let alone a hot bed of it.
At that point I started realizing how tenuous that bloggers hold on reality – and the connections he was making – were.
And since then I’ve been very suspicious of any tarring by association.
First of all because when you tar Americans with being “right wing” in the foreign sense, you have no clue what you’re talking about. If you think you do, you’ve just proven your own ignorance. Go soak your head.
Second, because guilt by association is crazy-making. Look, like Joseph Stalin, I was born in a foreign country and worked in a white collar position. We were/are both married and had kids. Worse, the country was in Europe. And what’s more, neither of us liked/likes aristocracy of birth. Does this mean I’m responsible for the hundred thousands of deaths accounted to Stalin? Oh, please. Go soak your head.
Third – This never gets applied equally. For instance no one calls the left on the fact that their still lionized hero, FDR, was less than a ha’porth of opinion away from Hitler. He believed in eugenics, had issues with Jews (no? What do you think of all the ships turned away?) and was convinced the State should be the ultimate arbiter of everything. Nor do Democrats get called on the fact that during the DNC in 12 they were proudly proclaiming “Everyone must belong to something, so the state is something we all belong to.” In fact, “All within the State, nothing outside the State” – Benito Mussolini, loud and proud. Now, there’s something to cringe about. (And by the way, they can “belong” to whatever they want to. I’m a free citizen, thank heavens. The authority of the state comes from me, not the other way around.) If you think the left doesn’t have feet made of as much clay as the right (in any country), you can google people who supported Hitler until he fought with Stalin, and find all the icons of the left. I have read primary sources about both wars. If you think the left didn’t go overboard for Hitler until they found a bigger butcher wasn’t tainted with pretty much the same sins as the right of the time, you’re ignorant, go soak your head.
Fourth if you poke around in anyone’s life – ANYONE’s – you’ll find some association that is repulsive if not downright criminal. This is because we’re humans associating with other humans, all of us broken in several ways. For instance, we once barely escaped meeting a would-be terrorist, because I had a migraine and we skipped out on a dinner party. Our friends were friends with this Arab couple, and wanted to introduce us because, you know, immigrants. The Monday after that Saturday the couple were arrested for plotting to bomb something or other. There are things you don’t know about even authors you madly admire. Because people can be great authors and capable of horrible stuff in their private lives and if we only read books by saints, we’d have maybe three books to read. As this blogger at Tor found out. Now does this make the blogger at Tor endorse pedophilia? Hardly. She’s glittery and dim and thinks that history started when she says it did, but unless I knew more about her, I’d never accuse her of something that heinous. So when you try to accuse people of horrible crimes by association, look to your own glass houses. If you think you don’t have them, you’re mentally slow. Go soak your head.
Choose your associations carefully – and for that I mean REAL associations, not echoing someone’s facebook meme. For the love of heaven, I’ve echoed some from the hard left because the meme was CUTE. 99.9% of the people never look at the originator, only at the meme – and be aware that in all good there’s evil intermixed. And when people try to fling poo and tar you with heinous crimes by association, tell them the truth: “I am responsible for that which I explicitly endorse, that which I do, and that which I support that brought evil on others. I am not evil because I believe differently from you, nor do I accept other people are evil just because they disagree with you. Cringing is over. Defend your ideas and your opinions openly in the full light of day, or go soak your head.”
Oh, yeah. And grow up already. Being grown up is messy, and confusing, and you’ll objectively like people who are very bad, and dislike people you should like, and all your best judgements will be sneered at by history and by scholars yet unborn who — if they care about you at all — will call you names. You are not, and will never be omniscient, let alone omnipotent. And nothing in this world is perfect.
That’s a lesson most of us learn three years out of the nursery, if that late. It’s time you learned it.