Friday, 26 August 2016

Who Are "We"?

Poul Anderson's fictional texts are packed with meaning and significance. To discuss them is to discuss everything from anthropology to zoology as I think that this blog demonstrates. For example, an impossible fantasy addresses social realities.

Coyote has helped foreign devils to sabotage NASA. Steve Matuchek seeks an alliance with some other Native American gods, who respond:

"We know that Coyote has consorted with strange Beings. What is that to us? Again and again have we raised the hearts of our peoples. Again and again they were crushed. Their war cries resound no more.Their lands have fallen to those who love not Earth our Mother, but flay her alive. Why should we help the invaders?"
-Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000), p. 342.

Very well spoken. How does Matuchek respond? His response, on pp. 342-343, is nearly a page in length and I cannot quote it in full although I advise my readers to read it. He says in part:

" this the worst of all possible worlds? Are my people really such monsters?" (p. 342)

- and:

"-Sure, we whites have done horrible things and made horrible mistakes. We're still at it. We're human, after all. But more and more of us are trying to do better; and we've worked out a few guidelines, like the Bill of Rights; and -
"-And, God damn it, we're not about to fold our hand and quit the game! I said it, we're human too!" (p. 343)

My perspective is very different from Matuchek's and I think that it is worthwhile to compare perspectives although sometimes we will seem to be at odds. I dislike his querulous tone. Although I happen to be pink, I do not identify with the "...we whites..." who continue to do "...horrible things..." I particularly dislike his "We're human, after all." That can be used to excuse anything. (My mother actively resisted any criticism of the police. When it was reported that some of them had accepted bribes, she resorted to "They're human." That can be said of anyone, including all those whom she did freely criticize.)

In the early 1990's, the British National Party, campaigning for a whites only Britain, began not only to make electoral gains but also to encourage racist violence. Many of their members were convicted of such offenses. Since then, we have defeated them politically, successfully campaigning to drive them out of any elected office. In 1993, I joined a large march through London to protest against the presence of the BNP HQ. Large numbers of helmeted Metropolitan Policemen prevented us from getting anywhere near the BNP building. Some of them attacked our people with truncheons. At one point, marchers, with police to their left and terraced houses to their right, could have retreated by stampeding through the houses but fortunately did not. If they had done so, then they would have been accused of wantonly rampaging through the homes of local residents. Any violence on a demonstration is automatically attributed to the demonstrators.

On the march, I was surrounded by a group of young black men who vigorously clapped and chanted:

"Racist attack -
"We fight back!
"Because we're black -
"We fight back!"

There was hostility and contempt on the faces of white policemen. Although I did not join in chanting, "Because we're black -" (!), I got the impression that my fellow marchers would not have objected - might not even have noticed - if I had done so. I was one of them, not one of "we whites."

Nowadays, when confronting the remnants of the BNP, we sometimes affirm our unity by singing:

"We are black, white, Asians, gays and Jews...
"There are many, many more of us than you!"

So, if I were in Steve's shoes, I would greet the gods not by apologizing for whites but by affirming my unity with reds.


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I really dislike how the word "gay" has been changed to mean "homosexual." It USED to mean "merry, happy, cheerful." And books written before about 1960 still use that word in its PROPER sense. I don't understand how it came to mean "homosexual" or "lesbian."


Paul Shackley said...

It was to counteract "queer."

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

Or other pejorative terms for persons addicted to that sad thing. But, I still see no logical connection of "gay" with "homosexual."


David Birr said...

You refer to homosexuality as a "sad thing." It occurs to me now that maybe homosexuals adopted "gay" in an attempt to affirm that they were HAPPY, or at least happier than otherwise, with being open about what they were.

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

That may well be, despite how I would disagree with such an idea. But, a theological/moral/psychological analysis of a sexual practice is out of place in this blog. I am your guest, not the blog owner! (Smiles)


Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, David!

I'm exasperated and frustrated with myself! I yet again mis-attributed my reply to PAUL, when I should have addressed you!!! My apologies!!!!