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Jul 17 2013

Orson Scott Card and McCarthyism

Maggie Gallagher displays the usual hypocrisy by crying “McCarthyism!” at a proposed boycott of the movie version of Ender’s Game, written by deranged homophobe Orson Scott Card (a book that, I’m told by friends whose opinions I respect, is very good; since I’m not a SciFi fan, I will be neither reading the book or seeing the movie).

Gay marriage advocates are trying to build up a boycott of Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s personal views on marriage.

It seems very strange to me that so many artists and people on the left are supporting the idea that to make art in the mainstream you have to have the right political opinions. This used to be considered the heart of McCarthyism: loyalty oaths for filmmakers as the condition forworking in the film industry. (These were imposed by the industry, not the government, remember, in response to public pressure).

Ah, such historical whitewashing. It was called McCarthyism because the witch hunt was led by Sen. Joe McCarthy and carried out, most famously, by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. It wasn’t merely public pressure, it was serious threats from the government that led to the black lists, and the public pressure that did exist was created largely by demagogues in the government. Jim Burroway responds:

It was just a little more than a year ago that the National Organization for Marriage, of which Gallagher is board chair, called for a boycott of Starbucks. I’ve grown to believe that organized boycotts are almost always futile in achieving their aims. That said, I do believe that we are all free to spend our money however we choose. I don’t purchase gasoline at Exxon on Mobil, and I don’t shop at Wal-Mart. And if the gross receipts for Ender’s Game opening night are going to be looked at as some kind of an economic referendum for Card, then I can safely say that I won’t be seeing the movie. It’s my money, and I just don’t feel like paying Card a dime of it, and I hope none of my friends or family members will either.

But if they do — if they want to see the movie because they loved the critically-aclaimed book, or because they’re interested in the star power of Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley, Aramis Knight, Hailee Steinfeld, Jimmy Pinchak, Viola Davis, and Abigail Breslin — then that’s no skin off of my nose either. Evil people are capable of producing great art, and it’s not axiomatic that their personal evil compromises that art, although I also think that it’s rare for that to occur. I’m not familiar with Ender’s Game to know whether it is tainted with Card’s vindictive viewpoints or not, although I am aware that it does infect other books that he wrote later.

But where I draw the line is here: ten years ago, Card wanted my very existence made criminal. Five years ago, if California had decided to legalize my marriage, he wasn’t just going to disagree with the outcome. He vowed “to destroy that government and bring it down.” So we’re not talking about a civil discussion over afternoon tea. Card has portrayed these issues in a stark struggle-to-the-death choice: it’s either us or him. And now he and his allies are crying foul because some of us are taking him at the very standard he established.

Precisely right. And this is all SOP for conservatives. They constantly call for boycotts themselves, especially against companies that treat gay people like human beings with equal rights, and then when liberals do it they scream “McCarthyism!” and “economic terrorism!” As for Ender’s Game, I had no intention of seeing it anyway so there’s no need to boycott. And if people liked the book and want to see the movie regardless of the views of the author, I have no problem with that at all. I tend to agree that it’s silly to boycott actors and musicians because of their political views. But that’s my choice to make, just as it is anyone else’s choice as well. And if you don’t want to spend your money on that, that’s absolutely your prerogative. And it isn’t “McCarthyism,” FFS.

51 comments

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  1. 1
    eric

    Gay marriage advocates are trying to build up a boycott of Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s personal views on marriage.

    I can’t imagine that’s going to work amongst sci-fi fans (who, let’s face it, are going to be the movie’s biggest audience group). The book has been lauded since it came out 25 years ago. This is probably one of those movies that most sci-fi fans will see even if its crappy, just because its from a well-loved book. Sort of like the next Star Wars movie – whatever obscene travesty Disney commits, you can bet a lot of people will still go see it just because it’s Star Wars.

  2. 2
    raven

    There is a huge difference between McCarthyism and anti-OS Cardism.

    1. McCarthy’s 500 commies in the state department were imaginary.

    2. Orson Scott Card is definitely a wacko Mormon fascist bigot.

    The Mormons and OS Card don’t like me or my kind any more than they like gays and definitely wish the worst for us. It’s OK, right back at you Mormon bigots and haters.

  3. 3
    Abdul Alhazred

    One thing to understand about Joe McCarthy — as distinct from red scare types generally — is that *none* of the folks he accused were actually Communists.

  4. 4
    cjcolucci

    As Yogi Berra used to say, “If people don’t want to come to the ballpark, you can’t stop them.” There’s all the difference in the world between people not coming to the ballpark and people being kept out of the ballpark. But the former McCarthyites who shreik “McCarthyism” don’t get that.

  5. 5
    eric

    I should add that – more on-topic – I have no problem with a group trying to boycott it and I don’t think that’s McCarthyistm. Card’s views on marriage probably won’t change my decision one way or the other; I liked the book but didn’t swoon over it, so I’ll probably go see it so long as it scores better than about a 60% on Rotten Tomatoes.

    I don’t recall anything about his political views in the book. But Burroway makes a point that is true about a lot of politically activist authors: in many cases, their good stories are what gets them published, then once they have a stage, they sacrifice story for political message, and their novels go to crap.

  6. 6
    Bronze Dog

    I’m reminded of an episode of The Twilight Zone. The protagonist finds a genie in a lamp, who offers to grant him one wish, warning him to think about it carefully. So he starts having daydreams about the big three: Money, fame, power. In the money daydream, he ends up getting bored since he’s got everything he wants. He’s called “subversive” at one point because he decides he’s not interested in buying another yacht.

    Isn’t free market capitalism supposed to mean we decide what we want to spend our money on, or to not spend our money on? Where does this alleged obligation to buy an Ender’s Game movie ticket come from?

  7. 7
    raven

    I can’t imagine that’s going to work amongst sci-fi fans (who, let’s face it, are going to be the movie’s biggest audience group).

    There are ways to see movies that don’t involve paying for them. Bit Torrent or whatever. (I’m not that up on this these days.) Or just buy one DVD and pass it around.

    If you have to read OS Card, don’t buy them, get them from a library.

    But really, don’t bother. He wrote a few OK books and stories long ago and then they started going downhill. And downhill some more. It long ago reached the point of being a waste of time and there are countless better books out there.

  8. 8
    Chiroptera

    What do you expect from the same clueless people who claim that we making use of our First Amendment right to call them bigots is somehow a violation of their right to free speech?

  9. 9
    Raging Bee

    I tend to agree that it’s silly to boycott actors and musicians because of their political views.

    Yeah, but you know what’s even sillier? Letting celebrities get away with supporting vile and destructive causes, from the safety of their coccoon of wealth, status, loyal chums and lack of real accountability, without even trying to get their attention.

    (Also, I don’t see anyone here saying it’s silly to boycott Jenny McCarthy’s new venue.)

  10. 10
    matty1

    You mean we don’t have a moral obligation to buy everything someone tries to sell us?

    Excuse me I have 500 cases ‘genuine’ Rolex watches to try and dispose of.

  11. 11
    Chiroptera

    raven, #7: If you have to read OS Card, don’t buy them, get them from a library.

    Eventually, you’ll probably be able to check out a DVD of the movie from the library, too.

    And if you absolutely must own a copy, you can always wait for used copies to show up on ebay.

  12. 12
    otrame

    I enjoyed the book quite a bit as a kid. My younger son, who does not read a lot of fiction, LOVED it. It is actually very appealing to kids, especially smart kids who have had to deal with the stultifying effects of our educational system.

    Some of the criticism of the book, mostly from the left, is just silly. Yes, Ender personally kills somebody. So does Harry Potter. I fail to see why Harry’s homicide is more acceptable because he used a wand instead of his bare hands.

    I don’t think it is quite fair to dump Card’s current insanity over a book he wrote when he was a much younger, and apparently much saner, man. The deterioration of Card’s writing is well known and was noted long before his political views were well known, but I am loath to claim it is a symptom of his becoming a rabid Mormon. I suspect that both are symptoms of something else.

    I’m not sure it will make all that good a movie, though, especially since the punchline is just a little too well known. I am willing to bet big money that the movie itself will not express a homophobic attitude.

    All that said, I think anyone made uneasy or angry by Card’s personal behavior can choose to abstain from the movie and I think that is fine. For me, while, as I said, I enjoyed the book, my attitude about the movie is meh. And that is leaving Card completely out of it.

  13. 13
    montanto

    I still like Ender’s Game, even though it doesn’t hold up quite as well as some books written around the same time, and it doesn’t really show any of his political views unless you argue the stock dystopian world government it take place in is an early sign of a libertarian world view that blossomed to full blown crazy in works like Empire. Giving up on him completely about six years ago wasn’t easy. I liked most of his work even when he blatantly wore his faith on his sleeve, and his nonfiction books on creative writing are still useful references.

    But when he started saying completely whack things, like the constitution having to be overthrown, I knew I could no longer in good faith give him any more of my money.

  14. 14
    RickR

    I’ve grown to believe that organized boycotts are almost always futile in achieving their aims

    I disagree, if you count “raising awareness of what a hateful bigot OSC is” as one of the aims here, which it certainly has.

    And of course, Maggie Gallagher lies with her very first sentence-

    Gay marriage advocates are trying to build up a boycott of Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s personal views on marriage.

    Card sits on the board of NOM, and has contributed money (and his position as a famous author) to actively block the extension of civil rights to LGBT people and their families.

    It’s not about Card’s “views”, it’s about what he DOES because of those views.

  15. 15
    jamessweet

    Anybody who says that boycotts are an out-of-bounds tactic, whether they be Left or Right, is an idiot. We might question their utility; we might say a particular boycott is stupid or misguided; we might deeply criticize the motivations of a boycott. But to say that boycotting itself is somehow a Dirty Trick? What fucking planet are these people from?!?!?

  16. 16
    Childermass

    Requiring an author’s view to math one’s own is never a good idea and indeed too many people don’t read authors or with radically different views from their own. So unless Card starts promising to give a hate group a percentage, a boycott is not a good idea. As it is, a boycott might generate sales from bigots. Just ask Chick-fil-A.

  17. 17
    Akira MacKenzie

    Eric @ 1

    I’m a sci-fi fan, and I’m not going to give this hetrosexist, magic-underwear-clad pile of shit the satisfaction by seeing anything based upon his work. It’s the principle of the thing.

  18. 18
    Darka

    OSC’s books are nothing new or good, IMO. It’s Hour of the Horde and Starship troopers, with a dash of Lord of the Flies, and later, messianic nonsense appropriate for a twit who thinks he going to get a magic planet all for his own when he dies. And yes, I read the original novella and the first two books. They are pretty meh.

    I have no problem boycotting those whom I do not agree with. Why should I given them fame and approval? I would have no problem avoiding having Hitler’s paintings so why the shock that I would not want a hateful bigot’s books?

  19. 19
    RickR

    So unless Card starts promising to give a hate group a percentage, a boycott is not a good idea.

  20. 20
    RickR

    Shit. Hit post too soon.

    So unless Card starts promising to give a hate group a percentage, a boycott is not a good idea.

    He already does.

  21. 21
    raven

    So unless Card starts promising to give a hate group a percentage, a boycott is not a good idea.

    He already does.

    QFT!!!

    He’s a Mormon for Cthulhu’s sake and probably gives them 10%. That is it right there.

    He is also a supporter and officer of NOM, the completely bigoted hate group run and founded by an unholy coalition of spawn from the Outer Darkness Mormons and Catholics.

  22. 22
    jesse

    I always found the relationship between art and political views a bit complicated.

    There are a lot of valid criticisms of Ender’s Game. Some of the leftist-oriented crits aren’t really that wrong, I think, but there are also several readings one could make of the book. The most famous examples are here:

    http://www4.ncsu.edu/~tenshi/Killer_000.htm

    http://peachfront.diaryland.com/enderhitlte.html

    And Norman Spinrad as well. I can’t find a copy online at the moment but his longer treatment of Ender’s Game appeared in Asimov’ Science Fiction many years ago (and yes, geek that I am I still have that issue I think — must check the shelf).

    More to the point, I was always saddened by the fact that Card — via his fiction — seemed more a humanist at many levels (Pastwatch is one example of this). That was circa 1994. I actually interviewed him around then. He seemed a nice enough guy and while I had my differences with the Alvin Maker series — I think there are some problematic racial politics there, but they are relatively subtle — I thought at their root they were quite good. As I read him, he was working out some interesting bits of his own religious upbringing. Pastwatch to me is his most successful novel in that regard, because he works through the implications of certain moral codes.

    One book that deals explicitly with Mormonism is Lost Boys, which to me actually outclassed his science fiction, though again there are disturbing bits and probably not the ones he intended.

    But then somewhere around 2000-2001 — probably post 9/11 — he seemed to go off the deep end.

    I might very well end up seeing Ender’s Game, though odds are it’ll be when it’s on cable.

  23. 23
    eric

    Also, I don’t see anyone here saying it’s silly to boycott Jenny McCarthy’s new venue.

    Its silly to boycott The View because of McCarthy’s presence.

    You should be choosing not to watch it because its trash with or without her on it. Seriously, what’s she going to do, drop the average viewer IQ from 5 to 4?

  24. 24
    keithb

    Abdul Ahazelred:
    What about Alger Hiss?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alger_Hiss

  25. 25
    Alverant

    Remember a few years ago when Golden Compass movie came out? The Catholic Defense League called for a boycott because the author of the original book was an Atheist. Shouldn’t that be “McCarthyism” too? Card pushed for oppressive laws and overthrowing the government to prevent recognizing homosexuals as human beings. Now he’s claiming oppression because people are using his views and actions to justify not seeing his movie. That takes hutzpah!

    For those curious about Enders Game, spoiler alert:
    The kid thinks he’s playing a video game where he kills aliens insects. After destroying the alien homeworld he found out it was real (including the parts where his friends died due to his actions) and the aliens were actually asking for peace from the beginning, but the language barrier and cultural differences kept that from being known. So in the end we have a child who “saved” Earth from a non-threat and slaughtered millions of beings to do it.

  26. 26
    marcus

    Words cannot describe the absolute disdain and disgust I have for Maggie Gallagher and Orson Scott Card.
    I’ll take a real human and a real writer like Dashiell Hammett any day. Orson Scott Card is whining about lost ticket sales as a result of his beliefs. Hammett went to prison for his beliefs, spared his colleagues the same fate, and gave McCarthy and his ilk a great big ‘Fuck You’ by doing so. Kiss my ass Orson Scott Card, you goddamn coward. Same to you Gallagher.

  27. 27
    JustaTech

    I wish OSC had just kept his dang mouth shut. Then I wouldn’t feel nearly so conflicted about going to see the movie. (OSC was the graduation speaker at my husband’s graduation. He was a good speaker, didn’t say any anti-gay stuff, even if now I disagree with what he said there.)

    Part of me wants to see the movie just because I want to *see* how Battle School works. But now that OSC has gone and said such hypocritical things … gah. I don’t want moral dilemmas in my entertainment!

  28. 28
    Raging Bee

    It is actually very appealing to kids, especially smart kids who have had to deal with the stultifying effects of our educational system.

    Actually, I suspect the smart kids would want a more believable fantasy.

    I’m a sci-fi fan, and I’m not going to give this hetrosexist, magic-underwear-clad pile of shit the satisfaction by seeing anything based upon his work.

    Now now, Akira, it’s not the underwear’s fault.

    Its silly to boycott The View because of McCarthy’s presence. You should be choosing not to watch it because its trash with or without her on it. Seriously, what’s she going to do, drop the average viewer IQ from 5 to 4?

    A boycott campaign to draw attention to an issue is a better idea than just giving up on viewers’ intelligence from the get-go.

    But to say that boycotting itself is somehow a Dirty Trick? What fucking planet are these people from?!?!?

    Planet Libertaria, where rationality is defined by Market Forces and any thought or action contrary to Market Forces is blasphemy.

  29. 29
    Raging Bee

    …I had my differences with the Alvin Maker series — I think there are some problematic racial politics there…

    The racial politics you speak of were the racial politics that were a reality in the era in which the story takes place. The story (the first book to be exact, that’s all I read) got you into the heads of its protagonists, and some of them had racist attitudes, and back then (an alternative-history pre-Civil-War America to be exact), such attitudes were commonplace, unavoidable, and not widely disdained. YMMV, of course, but all I saw there was a realistic treatment of not-very-educated characters following the “conventional wisdom” of their times.

  30. 30
    briandavis

    Will a boycott even hurt Card? Does he have a percentage of the movie, or was he just paid up front for the movie rights to his book?

  31. 31
    Chiroptera

    briandavis, #30: …or was he just paid up front for the movie rights to his book?

    If a executives feel that a boycott has had a significant effect on revenue, then that is going to have an effect on future negotiations on projects based on his works.

  32. 32
    jesse

    @Raging Bee — I am not talking about the attitude of the characters — obviously if you’re writing about pre-Civil War North America you’re going to get certain things.

    What was a bit more of an issue was a kind of essentializing that Card engages in. He said to me when I spoke to him that he wanted to give each race of people their own kind of magic, and while that works well enough symbolically there’s the same kind of problem that Star Trek has when talking about culture (the “one world, one trait” thing). When doing that in fiction that deals with “real” people, it gets a bit sticky. I mean, Native people’s cultures were all quite different, and he has a tendency to lump them all together even as he paid close attention — I would guess — to research on the Shawnee of the Ohio Valley. It wasn’t a huge issue for me, but it nags.

    I would say that he does better with that in Pastwatch, by the way, where it’s clear he did good research on Mesoamerican civilizations and the differences between them. (I think some of his characterizations suffer, but that’s a whole other thing).

  33. 33
    Raging Bee

    jesse, you’re definitely right about the magic — it really was a form of essentialism, and the essentialism, in turn, couldn’t help being a form of stereotyping, whether or not that was the author’s intent. And as a character-development tool, it kinda worked, at least for Card, who can’t seem to draw believable characters any other way. I could accept all those individualized magical abilities as dramatic metaphors to describe the reality of what each character was, but it was still stereotyping.

  34. 34
    jesse

    @Raging bee: you got me thinking, though. Card’s religion, Mormonism, is itself a pretty essentialist kind of thinking more so than other branches on the Abrahamic tree. It’s the only one of them to specifically reference what we’d recognize as “races” in the modern sense.

    Maybe that’s part of where it all comes from with him. I suppose if I looked I could see the seeds of who he is now in his early work; I do have a pretty good number of his books on the shelf, starting with the Alvin Maker series and including Ender’s Game and most of its associated novels. Also Lost Boys and Pastwatch, and the first Call of Earth book. The progression even there is interesting when I arrange them chronologically. The Call of Earth stuff is especially revealing — I had never run into an author who seemed to dislike the idea of women having authority so much as that.

    Another interesting thing is that for all the flak — much of it deserved — he got for the way he constructs morality in Ender’s Game, he tackles a much more complicated issue in a novella called Eye for Eye, which involves a teenager with the power to kill accidentally. Here we have someone who is not quite as blameless in the way he sets up Ender, and there’s a little more moral culpability there and he is in that work willing to get into it a bit more. He also writes better characters, I think. Maybe he’s better suited to short stories and novellas.

  35. 35
    matty1

    Remember a few years ago when Golden Compass movie came out? The Catholic Defense League called for a boycott because the author of the original book was an Atheist.

    It’s a bit more than Pulman happening to be an atheist, the books are quite explicitly anti-religion. Although this is less blatant in the Golden Compass than the later two and pretty much hidden completely in the film.

  36. 36
    cptdoom

    @ briandavis #30 – Apparently Card is also a producer on the film, which likely means he gets a percentage of the gross.

    Back to the “McCarthyism” claim. As Ed rightly points out, the film industry’s actions were a direct result of governmental pressure to “clean up” the industry, which worked in part because so many of the studio moguls were Jewish and already suspect as good Americans. The blacklist was not, however, about what movies to see, it was about whether people should work at all. As far as I know, there was no call for the studio not to make the film, or for actors or technical people not to work on it – there isn’t even a movement to get his books off the store shelves. This is simply an “I’m not going to see this” kind of a boycott, the exact same kind promoted by the religious right in response to the Last Temptation of Christ.

  37. 37
    anubisprime

    Seeing as if McCarthy had undergone the same scrutiny he applied to all others he would have ended up on his own list for un-American activities…i.e. homosexuality and substance abuse…is it not more then ironic that his namesake attitude has been used in this claim?

    What I find even more typical is that whole despicable episode of paranoid hysteria of communism was set off at a suggestion of a Roman Catholic priest…

    Honestly turn any stone of infamy and after the stench and toxic miasma of corruption and filth dissipates on exposure to fresh air…what you find is a RCC priest preening his antennas!

  38. 38
    jesse

    BTW I should add to the McCarthyism bit: my own family was hurt rather deeply by it. My grandfather spent time in jail. Nobody is calling for Orson Scott Card to lose his job, be unable to write, or to go to prison. Nobody is dragging Card in front of a Congressional Committee to name everyone he ever knew who opposed gay marriage. The lack of self-awareness is pretty startling.

  39. 39
    adamk

    It’s not about his “views.”

    Almost all the press and commentary gets this wrong. Nobody cares what his “views” are. It’s his actions, his statements, his political activism, and his monetary donations that are the problem. He was on the board of NOM. He gave money and work to support Prop 8.

    When he uses his money that way, I don’t want to contribute.

  40. 40
    sigurd jorsalfar

    I don’t think it’s the least bit silly to boycott an artist such as Ted Nugent because of his political views. Although a better reason to boycott him is that his music is shit.

  41. 41
    Rip Steakface

    ^

    There are far, far worse artists from the same time period as Ted Nugent, in terms of musical quality. Of course, there are far better. And almost all of them have better political views by miles. Shit, I’d rather listen to Rush’s most libertarian, Randian albums like 2112 than support Nugent’s dumbfuckery. At least Rush has repented.

  42. 42
    gwangung

    Blacklists are top down impositions and actions. I’d consider this authoritarian.

    Boycotts are bottom up actions. I’d consider this grassroots and more democratic. As such, I think it’s more in lines with the free market principles that are supposedly worshipped by certain people.

    I would also think that boycotts have long been a tool in mass, collective actions, including such stalwarts as Martin Luther King. It’s more proper to consider whether it’s effective on a case by case basis than to make a blanket judgement of them.

  43. 43
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    @22. jesse

    I always found the relationship between art and political views a bit complicated.

    There are a lot of valid criticisms of Ender’s Game. Some of the leftist-oriented crits aren’t really that wrong, I think, but there are also several readings one could make of the book. The most famous examples are here:

    (Links snipped) ‘Creating the Innocent Killer : Ender’s Game, Intention, and Morality’ by John Kessel &
    ‘ender and hitler: sympathy for the superman’ (20 years later) by Peachfront. (Capitalisation original.)

    Thanks for those links. Thought provoking reading.

  44. 44
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Just been reading O. S.Card’s wikipedia page : ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orson_Scott_Card ) which notes :

    .. in 2009 (Card – ed.) became a member of the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that seeks to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as a union between one man and one woman.[34] Card resigned from the Board sometime in 2013.[35]

    Emphasis added. Plus also :

    Debate occurred as to how much Card would be allowed to take part in promotion for the movie adaptation of Ender’s Game, due in late 2013,[45] with one studio executive expressing the opinion that Card’s involvement could be a liability for the film.[46] It was announced that Card would not be taking part in the Ender’s Game film panel at San Diego Comic Con in July 2013 with the other principal cast and crewmembers of the film.[47] A LGBT group, Geeks OUT!, has proposed a boycott of the film due to his opposition to same-sex marriage.[48] On July 8, 2013, Card wrote in Entertainment Weekly that the gay marriage issue is “moot” due to the Supreme Court decision on DOMA, and that eventually, gay marriage would be legal in all fifty states.[49]

    So it seems Card now accepts equal marriage or has given in on that issue at worst but OTOH he remains apparently a Global Overheating denier although he rejects the idea that any scientific evidence will be found to support creationism.

    @22. jesse :

    But then somewhere around 2000-2001 — probably post 9/11 — he (Card) seemed to go off the deep end.

    I can’t sure for

  45. 45
    StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return!

    Submitted too soon sorry. (Continued)

    I can’t say for sure but I do think the attacks of 9-11 caused a massive shock for a lot of people – it changed the world and so, yes, it seems quite likely 90-11 trauma affected Orson Scott card badly too.

  46. 46
    democommie

    @45:

    You are right, the events of September 11, 2001 affected many people, profoundly so.

    I think, however, that a lot of us who weren’t already convinced of the dangers of KRWA* would have seen that repressive religious extremism is NOT a good model to follow in the real world.

    * KKKristianist Right Wing Authoritarianism

  47. 47
    jesse

    @Demcommie / SteveoR–

    Thing is, even Hitchens was affected badly by it, in that he bought into a lot of frankly bigoted assumptions afterwards. I don’t know that he was ever able to get his head around the idea that odious as most Muslims find terrorism, and as unpopular as religious extremism is there, the most religiously-conservative governments were with one sort-of-exception, Afghanistan, imposed from the outside by the western powers.

    That’s what bothered me– a New Yorker, BTW — about the response. In one sense we were a fiddle that Osama bin Laden played masterfully — we demonstrated to the world that yes, we really are a bunch of violent revenge-obsessed crusaders who care nothing for human rights except insofar as it’s a convenient fig leaf. Congrats, folks. OBL died a happy man. Supposed rational thinker Hitchens never seemed to get that he was among those who got played, too.

    I sometimes think that the Islamic terrorists were much better judo students than the commanders in the US military.

  48. 48
    timgueguen

    Besides their actual music Rand would have loathed Rush for their structure. After all you don’t get much more collectivist than a band that’s had the same lineup for 40 years, and whose members are equal partners in the creative and business aspects of the band. Rather contrary to the great (wo)man surrounded by fawning acolytes concept at the core of her thinking.

  49. 49
    jesse

    Funny about Rand and Rush. I actually dig Rush, and even Neal Peart’s lyrics, at least most of it. And for years I never noticed anything particularly Randian but I hadn’t listened to 2112 carefully.

    (My favorite tunes: “Limelight”. “Spirit of the Radio,” “Red Barchetta” and “Closer to the Heart” which seems almost Anti-Randian. Maybe it’s because the songs I got to like were more about their meditations on fame).

  50. 50
    jesse

    Oh, and Rush is perfect for Nerdy Sci Fi geeks for their “Heavy Metal for intellectuals” styling. :-)

  51. 51
    Steve Morrison

    OSC’s homophobia goes back long before 9/11. His 1988 article “The Hypocrites of Homosexuality” included some very hard-hearted ideas about how society should treat gays, and he made a viciously homophobic remark in an afterword to his story “Closing the Timelid” around 1990:

    Being a preacher at heart, I found that with this story I had written a homily of hedonism as self-destruction. Absurd as these people may seem, their obsession with a perverse pleasure is no stranger than any other pleasure that seduces its seekers from the society of normal human beings. Drug users, homosexuals, corporate takeover artists, steroid-popping bodybuilders and athletes—all such groups have, at some time or another, constructed societies whose whole purpose is celebrating the single pleasure whose pursuit dominates their lives, while it separates them from the rest of the world, whose rules and norms they resent and despise. Furthermore, they pursue their pleasure at the constant risk of self-destruction. And then they wonder why so many other people look at them with something between horror and distate.

    (from his anthology Maps in a Mirror.)

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