Monday, September 16, 2019

A little on the cancellation of James Tiptree

(I am adding new things to the end of this post today, and may add more as the discussion continues online.)

What I've said on social media:


James Tiptree, like HP Lovecraft, has been canceled.

Tiptree Name Will Be Removed from Award | File 770


I also support this theory about Tiptree and her husband.

A great female writer has been canceled because of her last tragic days.


I keep thinking about what's wrong with cancelling James Tiptree. I understand why her husband might want to die. I am fine with the idea of Emma killing me at such a time. I would only hope she would hide the evidence and go on to live a wonderful life.

Should they rename the Tiptree Award, too? / Boing Boing


Say what you will about 1984, it explains the authoritarian left's love of memory holes.


Neoliberals and socialists take very different views of #JamesTiptree/Alice Sheldon taking part in what seems to have been a suicide pact. Neoliberals blame individuals, so they blame her. Socialists blame society for not supporting people when they most need it.


When someone quibbled about her work for the government, I answered
That has nothing to do with the fact that she was a brilliant short story writer, and the award that bore her name had nothing to do with politics until its name was changed for political reasons.

I hate making artists' lives more important than their art.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Frederick Douglass showed that the Irish were always white in America

In 1853, referring to black people as us, Frederick Douglass wrote:
Every hour sees us elbowed out of some employment to make room for some newly arrived emigrant from the Emerald Isle, whose hunger and color entitle him to special favor. These white men are becoming house-servants, cooks, stewards, waiters, and flunkies.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

James Scaminaci's takedown of Mark Bray's book on Antifa

I found this quoted on Facebook and have not found the source. It deserves a wider readership.

"Mark Bray, a historian with a new book on the Antifa, is everywhere. His central claim, upon which everything depends, particularly in the current situation, is his false claim that no one took the fascists seriously in the 1920s and 1930s, and therefore the Antifa of today is compelled by historical necessity and moral duty to protect vulnerable populations with violence. This central claim is false. It is bad history. In fact, it is a complete distortion of the history of Weimar.

Here is Bray's central claim in Part 2 of his interview on Democracy Now!
So, in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, part of the problem is that, across the political spectrum, many people did not take this threat seriously until it was too late. By not confronting them with their fists, they ended up having to confront them with tanks.
I am not a historian and certainly not a scholar of Weimar Germany. But, Richard J. Evans, is a historian and recognized expert on Nazi Germany. His Volume 1, The Coming of the Third Reich, in various sections covers the brutal street battles between the Nazis, Communists, and Social Democrats. What is clear is that these street battles produced fear in Germany's middle class and had them turn towards the Nazis in the 1933 election.

The Nazis had at various times the Steel Helmets, the Fighting Leagues, and then the Brownshirts. The Social Democrats had the Reichsbanner. The Communists had the Red Front-Fighters League (page 73). All started around 1919-1920. So, the idea that no one took the Nazis seriously and did not fight them in the streets is ludicrous.

On pages 237-244, Evans writes about the Communist-Nazi clashes. The Communists had almost daily demonstrations and had declared parts of cities no-go zones for opponents. There were many reasons for Communist-Social Democratic hatred, but from 1928 onwards the Communists battled the Social Democrats.

On page 242, in a possible echo to today's Antifa, Evans wrote that the Communists' "hostility to the Weimar Republic, based on its extremist condemnation of all its governments, blinded it completely to the threat posed by Nazism to the Weimar political system."

On page 243, Evans noted that in the open street fighting "the Communists were slowly beaten back into their heartlands in the slums and tenement districts by the continual brutal pressure of brownshirt violence. In this conflict, bourgeois sympathies were generally on the side of the Nazis, who, after all, were not threatening to destroy capitalism or create a 'Soviet Germany' if they came to power."

And on pages 269-270, Evans details the number of deaths and injuries incurred by these political paramilitary forces. In 1924-1929, "stable years," Nazis claimed 29 deaths by the Communists, while the Communists claimed 92 deaths from fascists. Steel Helmets suffered 26 deaths and the Reichsbanner 18 deaths. Injuries to all were counted in the thousands.

In 1930, the Nazis claimed "17 deaths, rising to 42 in 1931 and 84 in 1932." The Communists reported "44 1930, 52 in 1931 and 75 in the first six months of 1932 alone, while over 50 Reichsbanner men died in battles with the Nazis on the streets from 1929 to 1933." And. on page 273 Evans noted that the police sympathized with the Nazis.

Thus, an objective reading of the Weimar Republic would determine that the Nazi brownshirts did not rise up on the streets with nobody paying attention. The Social Democrats and the Communists were certainly paying attention and engaged them in brutal street battles.

Bray's entire argument rests on his bad history that the Nazis rose to power because no one confronted them in Germany. Thus, the current Antifa is absolutely correct in fighting the fascists in the streets in America and abridging their constitutional rights to speak and assemble.

No one interviewing Bray has called him on his bad history. They have accepted his ridiculous claim at face value and then let him pontificate on why the "illiberal" (his word for the Antifa) should be allowed to fight with the fascists.

If we go down this path of street fighting, democracy and the rule of law will be its victims. Bray ignores the correlation of forces in America. The Trump administration and his AG Sessions have all the tools they need to suppress all progressive protests under the guise of stopping leftwing and rightwing violence. Antifa violence and suppressing the constitutional rights of the fascists, even Trump supporters, plays into Trump's hands. I cannot see how this strategy works out for the better."

—James Scaminaci III

Friday, July 19, 2019

Narrativity: the convention I needed

I loved Narrativity for many reasons, but I've resisted writing this because one reason makes me sad.

I'll start as we tell people to critique writers in workshops and focus on the good:

Perhaps the best was a happy accident. When Emma came up with the name, we were just trying to find something that seemed descriptive and hadn't been overused, but the name encouraged something none of us had anticipated, a strong focus on story rather than writing. The name let us talk about writing, of course, but it reminded us there are many kinds of storytelling.

It was egalitarian, or at least as egalitarian as it's possible to be at an event like this. Joe Heaney noted that in Oh THIS is what a con can be: Narrativity Report: Part 1:
...that warm, welcoming feeling was perhaps the strongest feature of Narrativity. There was no ego, no stratification, no ranks expressed in the three days spent at the Crown Plaza. We were simply storytellers all, sharing our experiences and trusting that the experience of others passionate about our common art form would aid us in our own growth.
It was small, about 70 people. There are natural sizes for groups, which I first learned when I was involved with the Unitarian Universalists, and different sized groups function differently. Narrativity was the size of a village or a family gathering, which is the size of my ideal convention. You don't necessarily get to meet everyone, but it's easy to meet people, and you quickly develop a sense of community.

The panels were very good. I don't think there were any that I would recommend against. The last panel was a local tradition, the Different Panel, which consists of proposals by con members that the group votes on. An additional benefit of the Different Panel is the proposals that don't win make a fine place for next year's programming committee to start.

The selection of food and drinks in the con suite was especially good for a small convention.

The music circles were fun in what I think of as the Minneapolis music tradition—almost no fannish songs, but a good bit of folk and traditional music, including sea shanties, and show tunes and originals.

Hmm. So what wasn't good? Well, the hotel's restaurants were a bit pricey and generic, but there were a lot of good restaurants within a mile of the convention. The hotel was otherwise great—I'm hoping it'll be the site for next year's Narrativity.

And now for the small sadness. Narrativity reminded me enormously of Fourth Street Fantasy thirty years ago, before it grew and was gentrified. I suppose that's inevitable with successful conventions, but I hope Narrativity will learn from the mistakes of success and stay a place where people with different concerns gather as equals and freely discuss anything having to do with story. One thing I know: I'll encourage every writer I know and love to be at the next one.

ETA: Narrativity – a review – Dear Alien Anthropologists