On Being Persona Non Grata – Blast From The Past From June 2017
You could say I have a contrary disposition. You could also say water is wet.
My brother who is almost ten years older than I, loved to tease me. When I started taking languages and literature and emerged as one of the better students and therefore likely to have a career in diplomacy, he once spent a summer night making up a mock-newspaper of my adventures 20 years in the future, when I’d have been declared persona non grata in most of the world’s countries, and sometimes offered money to go away.
It was funny. What it wasn’t, by then, was really true.
You see, I’ve always had a contrary disposition, and will stick like a Spanish mule, and put my four hooves down as if set in cement, if you try to push me – personally – in any direction.
But by the time he did that I was in college. And I wasn’t stupid. At least not stupid in the social-reading sense.
I knew where the power was, even if all the Marxists who wielded power at every institution of learning insisted they were the underdog. I’d learned in high school that I had to toe the political line or be punished.
And I’m an introvert. I don’t like scenes.
And I’m human. I want to be liked and accepted by the group, at least superficially.
And then there was the fact that I thought I’d spend the rest of my life in Portugal where, as a young man from there said on FB yesterday “There are only different kinds of socialists.” So, there was no point being the voice that cries in the desert. We remember what happened to such voices, right?
So I went along to go along, and yes, I’m smart enough to pretend. Also, I’ll be honest, their ideology is a very simple lens. It’s easy to fake.
I don’t know what changed or when. I would think it was 9/11, but before that I’d become a fire eating, don’t tread on me Libertarian, the kind who thinks we really can get along without any government.
It was, you know, that a lot of my assumptions about the things the Leftists were right on had started collapsing as I read and understood more: the dangers of overpopulation; ecological disaster looming; the problems of child labor in developing countries.
I’d started reading Sowell on economics, and suddenly it made sense as Marxist economics never did. And then someone, maybe for a prank, sent me a subscription to Reason then under Virginia Postrel’s editorship. I fell headlong into “everything the Marxists ever taught me was wrong” — which is true – but went all the way to the other side of no borders and no government.
I came back with a shock on 9/11. I think my mind was already laboring at it, because my story Traveling, Traveling is about the dangers of bringing disparate cultures together too fast, and about the fact some people will want their isolation and kill to maintain it.
I still stayed quiet in my public life. Well, quiet on politics, that is. Through my thirties and forties, I kept my mouth zipped. I even tried to pretend. And heaven help me, I must have been very bad at it.
Call it being out of practice in pretending, since in the years of working towards publication I only had to please myself. I must have been better in Portugal. Or maybe in Portugal they weren’t on the constant lookout for heresy as progressives have been here, in the last ten years, when their monopoly on information got threatened.
It became obvious, from whispers caught (and my kids heard more, and of course told me. My kids being darker than I, most people didn’t realize they were mine. And Kate also heard things) that my career was being curtailed anyway. They weren’t SURE so I’d be allowed to keep working at a low level, and they watched me all the time. But I was given no opportunities (hell, I wasn’t allowed to have even chance opportunities) for career advancement just in case I was evil and “conservative” (which in this context means “to the right of Lenin.”)
I still couldn’t come out of the closet and continue being employed. I did consider just quitting, but Dan asked me to hold on another year. And besides, the other house ate money by the handfuls, which means though Dan makes enough to support us, the house would suddenly swallow 14 or 15k because a kid fell in the shower and supported himself on the tiled wall. (Which is when we found out the idiots who flipped the house before we bought it hadn’t put green board behind. That was…. Er… fun. When we were done rebuilding walls and putting in mold abatement, my entire earnings for that year had gone to it and taxes.)
So. I kept my trap zipped and continued working. I didn’t want to be persona non grata.
I still don’t want to be persona non-grata. I only started talking about politics, because my (then) agent told me I had to blog every day. And it’s impossible to blog every day without writing about what matters to you, which – given that I have this wound from the cold war, and it only hurts when I laugh – sooner or later the anti-communism, anti-socialism, anti-Marxism, anti-statism would come pouring out like vitriol. It just would.
And you’d think in the USA in the twenty first century being against those things would not make you persona non grata. Except of course it does.
Just the other day there was another announcement for a new magazine for marginalized voices: women, people of color, people of different sexual orientations. And my head kind of twisted. If they’re marginalized, that means most publishing slots are for conservative white males, right? This idiot actually went out of her way to say she was opposing the Sad Puppies and promoting marginalized voices.
Will one of you tell me what major publishing house we control? Baen books is just agnostic on politics, certainly not a “right wing house” and even if it were, it’s not one of the big four. So, what other major publishing house runs itself by the principles of Sad Puppies? Much less the principles the idiots think Sad Puppies followed?
And if we’re not in control of any major house, any magazine, why are these people they want to make a new magazine for “marginalized”? WHO “marginalizes” them? H*ll most of the editors, publishers and writers in my field seem to be women. It reminds me of being in an all girls’ school in middle school. And H*ll, if you throw in romance, women vastly outnumber men in all publishing. As for race, you know, there was never a time ANYONE asked me to state my race or paintchip color (Home depot Spun Gold, thank you) on a submission. And no one can hear my accent in writing. So if I was discriminated against, it wasn’t race!
In the end it was this, the screaming like you’re hurt while hitting other people: the active marginalization of conservatives and libertarians and even traditional democrats (even Hamilton would be read out of the current Democratic Party, I think. And the man was a monarchist who believed in a powerful central government) while screaming that the leftists, communists, socialists and assorted proponents of the ideas that killed 100 million people were the downtrodden ones that sent me running out of the political closet.
Do I like it? Not much.
The visions of myself, refracted, like mirrors, go echoing through the net. On the right I get called a happy warrior. On the left I get called crazier names, including “politically insane.” Or “fascist.” Or of course, the old standby “racist, sexist, homophobic” because I refuse to bow to their aesthetics of “good art is that done in the service of the eventual Marxist state.” (Most of them don’t even remember how that came about, but yeah, that’s it.)
And even those on our side sometimes say you know, I talk too much, I talk too loudly.
I know it loses me readership. Several people on the left were fans of Darkships before they found out my real politics.
And I never wanted to be persona non grata, whatever Alvarim thought.
But what else can I do? The more we stay silent and let lies go around the world again and again and again, the greater the chance Western Civ dies.
And for all its faults, western civ, the notion of individual liberty, the power of only semi-fettered markets, have lifted more humans out of poverty than ever before. They have almost eliminated famines not caused by bloody stupid kleptocracies. They’ve proven the best for avoiding those dystopian outcomes: overpopulation, pollution, famine.
I know which world I want my children and grandchildren to live in.
And if I must be persona non grata, so be it. I’m human. Like all humans I want to be liked, to belong, to be accepted in the dominant culture of my time. But when the dominant culture of my time is a poisonous and undermining lie, there are more important things than being liked. There are more important things than personal success.
At another time, in another place, I’d have stayed quiet in my library, writing my fiction.
But this is not another time. And we’re not given a choice. [And it is still worth it, even considering everything it’s cost me – SAH]
I’m not a happy warrior. I fight because I must.
Because everything I believe in depends on it.