Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wiscon anti-racists, have you no shame?

In January of 2009, Jay Lake wrote a post about writing characters who aren't white and male. It had the misfortune of launching Racefail '09 when Coffeeandink objected to him being a white man who does not buy into neoliberal anti-racism.

Last week, in the comments to Madrobin's post about attending Wiscon, a science fiction convention that traditionally focuses on feminist issues, Jay told a friend, “I probably won’t ever be at WisCon again, sadly, as it used to be one of my favorite cons, but RaceFail has made it very unwelcoming and unsafe for me.” Someone read that and alerted the usual suspects, who immediately began attacking him at the post, in their blogs, and on twitter to prove he was right. (The comments at the LJ are no longer viewable; when Madrobins saw the attack was underway, she shut down the post.)

After Jay was attacked, he wrote [cancer] Updates, lessons and the nature of anger, Yeloson wrote Privilege hates, but doesn't know what hate is, and now Tempest Bradford has written Thoughts On Jay Lake’s Continued Ass Showing.

Tempest's post is especially fascinating for showing how cultists think. She says early on, "...we have all had that friend who is well meaning and smart, but who says problematic things about race (or gender or religion or whatever) and because they are otherwise awesome you engage with them on a good faith basis and try to get them to understand where they’re mistaken, how their problematic words are hurtful, and how they can possibly do better. When a friend tells you that you’ve got your skirt stuck up in your pantyhoes, you might be embarassed for a bit but you’re grateful a friend was there to tell you, right? Right."

This cartoon shows the problem with her approach far better than I could.

Here's what matters: The work. Is Jay's writing racist? If so, damn him. If not, whether he believes in the antiracists' non-dictionary definitions is irrelevant.

I've been thinking a lot lately about cults and mobbing. One of the most frightening aspects of cults is their inability to feel sympathy for those who reject the cult.

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Will Shetterly is the author of the semi-autobiographical Dogland, which Ellen Kushner called "A masterwork. A particularly American magic realism that touches the heart of race and childhood in our country; it's 100 Years of Solitude for an entire generation of American Baby Boomers, and deserves the widest possible audience." The feministsf wiki says of him, "His work features strong women characters and people of color." He thinks neoliberal antiracism is wack.