Or How To Deal With Turkeys
Possibly the biggest celebration in this household is the fourth of July. We used to have massive parties for it, stopped because last house not suited to it, and will resume again if current bid comes through.
Thanksgiving is, for us, an odd holiday. First of all, neither of us has family near. Second of all, even if MINE were near, they don’t celebrate, since it’s a very American Holiday.
And then there are complications, because the Hoyts can never do things in an easy or simple way.
Because we moved from North Carolina to Colorado OVER Thanksgiving, and because the move signaled a marked improvement in our lives, we consider it our own, personal Passover. (Okay, not 40 years in the desert, but we did drive through a pretty dangerous snow storm just before hitting Colorado, where it suddenly cleared up.)
That first year we went out for Thanksgiving to a really nice restaurant because, though we were broke, all cheap restaurants were booked. So…
Because of all this and because cooking a big meal for four or five people is daft (and also because I’m not fond of turkey) we celebrate thanksgiving by picking up our friend Charles and going out to eat some place nice. (And because Charles reads this: Tomorrow, two thirty.)
So we escape the dreaded Thanksgiving horror of having someone suddenly veer off into politics, and having to sit in silence listening to loony toons.
Just so we’re clearly understood, I’m not suggesting that you be the one who starts politics at the Thanksgiving table. To quote Heinlein “Only a fool or a sadist tells the unvarnished truth at social occasions.”
I’ve lived with that for years, as have a number of you, I’m sure.
I’m asking you to consider not living by it, anymore. At least not to the extent of remaining silent and letting crazy relative/drunk friend of the family think you agree with everything he says.
If you have to counter, do it politely, tactfully, and more importantly with facts. Feel free to counter with “yes, but–” And then change the subject immediately afterwards. Feel free even to say “and now, lets leave contentious subjects aside, shall we? This holiday is about family and thankfullness and the good things we have.”
And yes, I know it’s easy for me to say because we DON’T have family gatherings, which is sort of a bitter sweet thing.
But I have spoken in my other family, or at least my extended kin-affiliation group, which is the SF/F community. And yes, I know how that has turned out, from my being declared the world’s worst person, to my being declared various kinds of deep ungood like racist, sexist and homophobic. The Sad Puppies movement, sparked by Human Wave, and fully supported by me and Kate and Amanda got maligned in national press as a white supremacist slapping down of women, gays and other races in science fiction. What it takes to believe that is… well, not knowing anything about the people involved, or the ability to dismiss a man’s 20 year bi-racial marriage as “shields.” That requires gold-plated belief of a reality not our own.
Which is part of why I’m asking you to speak up, however kindly and politely, when crazy uncle Joe starts telling you that of course everyone knows Bernie is the best thing for the nation, and how the GOP are all poopy head white-supremacists for disapproving of the ACA.
Because the problem with our silence and politeness, our hesitation to slap their noses when they bring politics into everything, is that it’s what’s allowed them to construct an entire parallel reality in their heads.
And this, when shocked with resistance where they thought they’d carried the day, is what makes them go unhinged and run to their stooges in the national press to malign as virtual neo-nazis a movement of people trying to shift the overly literary and belly gazing nature of the fiction that gets awards. You’d think neo-nazis would be doing more neo-nazi things, you know, like goose stepping, controlling the economy, persecuting Jews and invading Poland. But no. They think neo-nazis are really interested in changing who gets a plastic rocket. And the worst part? The worst part is that they believe this narrative. They’re not just putting it on. Which is why it’s so easy for them to get access to the national press, who suddenly publish articles about an award which, in the past, was often carried away by someone who got 80 votes.
How can they believe it, you say? Well, it’s rather easy. You see, everything in the news-entertainment industrial complex has told them since they were born that the future is some form of socialism. That history comes with an arrow, and the arrow leads to “progressive” utopia. (That progressive utopia has changed a bit, since I was a kid, but they probably don’t notice that. For instance, it used to be about free love, and now it’s about free love if the woman wants it, and the right to call a man a rapist if she changes her mind afterwards.
That’s because as Marxism failed to work in the real world, it turned from seeking the revolution of the workers to the revolution of the “minorities” and minorities are any group they can define out of the whole, from race to culture to sexual preference, to genitalia.)
So these people grew up with a hierarchy of minorities in their head, a hierarchy of grievances-that-must-be-appeased. In that progressive future they’re sure it’s coming, everyone is equal except for aggrieved minorities who are more equal than everyone else, and therefore get to dictate to others.
Nathaniel Givens wrote an excellent post about this totalitarian tendency here.
The problem where it specifically hits science fiction, is that when you make literature about “the correct messages” (I don’t have it to my fingertips, but this really is a thing. There have been any number of articles about the artist’s DUTY to promote the “right” (left) “Messages.” Because the DUTY of the artists is to hasten the coming of Utopia. And stuff.) you need other markers to distinguish the “good stuff.” Or in other words, when you all are saying the same thing, we need to figure out who is saying it better.
Over the last twenty to thirty years, this has led to an elevation of purple prose and/or bizarre faddish “markers” of “quality” which in turn have led to plummeting sales figures and the reduction of what was once a vibrant genre to a sad little few books in bookstores (excluding game and movie tie-ins.)
Sad Puppies was an attempt to reorient the genre to other definitions of good, removing the “must have message about bright CORRECT future” and the “must have precious language that gets in way of sense, or in other ways play with language to the detriment of the emotional involvement in the narrative.”
It had clear nothing to do with sex, orientation, race or culture (beyond SF culture.) BUT because the sf cultural war is a subset of the larger cultural war, they of course jumped to the position that the only person who could object to their constant pushing of the most current agenda HAD to be against the bright new future where all animals are alike but some are more alike than others. And the reason they jumped to this, is because it never even occurs to them that the dictate that artists promote what was called by a previous generation “the revolution” is not universally approved, accepted and considered holy.
And the reason that it never occurs to them is because everyone they know either agrees with them or stays silent, partly for fear of the attacks Sad Puppies have endured.
So when faced with rebellion in what they thought was conquered territory, they jump to the conclusion that they’re facing the Big Evil and deploy disproportionate force.
It never occurs to them we don’t give a good g*dd*mn about the color, gender and orientation of the protagonist, let alone the writer, provided that the story is interesting and the kind that will bring more readers to the genre. No, if we don’t agree with the stylings of what wins the plastic rocket, we must all have swastikas in our closet, including those of us who would be prime targets of the people with swastikas.
Because they haven’t had any opposition and therefore see the world as “the good people” — them — and those who oppose the bright new future — the evil ones — regardless of why or how they oppose some part of it (or to break their little shiny wagon, those of us who remind them history doesn’t come with an arrow leading to some leftist utopia.)
And I want you to go out there and challenge people that crazy? Why? Do I hate you for some special reason, that I want you to end with a face full of stuffing and not in a good way?
No. Really. Look, I hate confrontation because I go from nothing to berserking. And since killing strangers or even relatives at parties is frowned upon by society, that means I have to control the berserk, which means I end up shaking and crying a lot, which is not — REPEAT NOT — a pleasant experience. So in public I tend to avoid confrontation as much as possible.
And if it were only science fiction that had gone off the rails because of built-in, never challenged opinions/assumptions, I’d give up on science fiction and go write something else. Okay, even if all other genres were taken over, I could give up on writing, or go all indie all the time.
But it’s not. This disconnect from reality and creation of a new one that has nothing to do with what happens in the real world affects the entire — and hilariously self-named — “reality based” community. And some of them have the levers of power.
For instance, I’m sure some of you have seen, in the last few days, a link to our president saying that the Paris Climate Summit Will be a Powerful Rebuke to the Terrorists.
For anyone with even a modicum of sanity left, looking at that statement it’s like looking at a parallel world. In what universe do religious fanatics, bent on imposing a seventh century religion tremble in their caves at the thought that the west is getting together to talk about PREVENTING THE WORLD FROM GETTING WARMER?
It’s plastic rockets versus neo nazis all over again, isn’t it?
BUT the thing is if you assume the never-challenged assumptions that our president carries in his head, he’s making perfect sense. Being logical even.
It goes something like this, with apologies for over-simplification:
They drink their own ink. You have to trace the narrative all the way back to understand that this is “logical” in the parallel world our president inhabits. a) there are no bad people. All crime, or even you know, bad temper, has “root causes” (this is partly because it’s what our entertainment sells us, partly because it makes a better story. But entertainment has never been as prevalent as now. At least not narrative entertainment. And most people internalize entertainment as truth) b) if it’s an individual it’s society’s fault. c) if there are no bad individuals, there are no bad nations. d) when nations/religions/cultural groups turn sour, it’s SOMEONE’s or SOMETHING’s fault. e) It’s always fun to blame the west, but f) the western civilization caused problem of global warming also works and it feels so trendy and cozy. g) So global warming (he SAYS it exists) is responsible for Jihad. h) So, the way to fight Jihad is to stop global warming.
You have to admit it’s a pretty chain. The fact it has NOTHING to do with the world we live in is just a minor, inconvenient … ah… truth. But the fundamentals of that chain of “reasoning” is so deeply embedded in Obama (and most leftists) they can’t think any other way.
And this is why you must talk and you must challenge, even crazy uncle Joe at the thanksgiving dinner. And if you can you must challenge the rots of the belief. They might be brought to realize that even if (taking measurements as we have them which might or might not be accurate) the sea levels are a couple inches up a beach at high tide, really this has nothing to do with a movement started in the seventh century. And then challenge them to PROVE to you it does. And ask them why it can’t just be that there are bad people and bad causes. Use examples they despise, of course. Us included.
Yes, this is easy for me to say. Or not. I can’t say I’m not political, but I had far rather have kept it out of my public profile. That I don’t is because I fear what happens when people totally disconnected from reality have the keys to my nation’s security and economy.
Having a person high on something driving the car and swerving to avoid the pink dragons only he can see is fine. That is, until a really big invisible pink dragon blocks his vision and he swerves into the path of a semi.
We can no longer stay silent. We’re staring potential dictatorship and almost certain global war in the face.
It’s worth risking being beaned by a drumstick to stop catastrophe.
We can no longer allow our silence to give them the impression everyone agrees with them, except those evil, mustache twirling villains of their nightmares. We can no longer allow them to think the things in their head dictate reality.
And I’m very sorry to tell you that at this time, in this place.