Category Archives: Politics

A minor follow-up point regarding John C. Wright

Earlier today I pointed out how Wright bemoans the upcoming new Avengers for going all PC and not having any white Christian men on the team.

If Marvel had made up an entire new team out of the blue to get the white male-free lineup, I might have a slight sympathy for Wright’s criticism (slight because it’s not like the new lineup will last forever or like there’s a massive shortage of white male heroes). But that’s not what they did.

captainamerica117•Falcon’s been around since the 1960s (though his donning Captain America’s uniform is new) and so has the Vision (cover by Gene Colan, all rights with current holder)

•Pepper Potts has been wearing her rescue armor for seven years.

•Miles Morales has been the Ultimate Spiderman for four years.

•Ms. Marvel is new, but she’s extremely popular (and contrary to Wright’s post, not just with Muslims).

In short, Marvel has lots and lots of nonwhite, nonmale characters, so it’s not that surprising we’d wind up with a team that’s composed of them. Statistically it’s probably closer to the makeup of the MU than the Kooky Quartet era of the Avengers (Cap, Hawkeye and two Roma mutants).

I’m not a fan of the latest Nova, but overall the lineup doesn’t look any worse than countless incarnations of the team that preceded it.

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I don’t want to give John C. Wright any clicks—

So I’ll link to this long but interesting post on the Sad Puppies controversy, which includes a link to Wright’s rant on the newest Avengers line-up (in comics, not Age of Ultron). It includes Ms. Marvel (Pakistani-American), Rescue (white but a woman), the new Cap (Sam Wilson, American but black), Vision (synthetic human), the female Thor—and without “any Christian White Male Adults who might act like a Father figure, a leader, an alpha male, a hero.” As you can imagine given his horror at the female Thor, this is a bad thing from his perspective.

This is a fairly common right-wing lament: if white men dominate everything, that’s just normal, but if white men are squeezed out, that’s an atrocity. Pundit John Leo has made the point many times in his career that just because women in a particular profession or competition are under-represented (ditto blacks, Muslims, etc.), that could be a statistical fluke. It doesn’t by itself prove discrimination. But then he wrote a column explaining that if all the finalist in a scholarship contest one year were non-white, that clearly proved the judges had done some form of affirmative aspect. He’s written other columns which show he’s perfectly fine pinning an argument on statistics as long as the statistics prove white men are oppressed.

I don’t claim Leo and Wright share the same views, but I’m confident Wright, who thinks women who fight are just men with breasts, wouldn’t be bothered if we had the classic Silver Age formula (all white guys, one woman). And it’s not as if white male leader heroes are in short supply in comics. And contrary to his column, there’s no suggestion white men have been excluded or shut out.

20898019However the real point of this post is the venom Wright unleashes on Ms. Marvel’s membership. Because putting a Muslim on the team is like having a World War Two comic with a Nazi super-hero—”one of the those nice Nazi party members who do not approve of Hitler, or the other official doctrines, written in the official literature, of the organization to which she willingly belongs. Such a comic character would appeal to the moderate Nazis whom we do not wish to alienate, since, after all, Hitler highjacked the noble institution and motives of the Party.”(Wright is apparently unaware there have actually been German and Japanese super-heroes in WW II-set books (not from the era itself). Sgt. Fury’s WW II Howling Commandoes recruited a German at one point; Tsunami of the Young All-Stars was a former Japanese agent. So the idea isn’t as crazy as he thinks).
Second, the base of Wright’s thesis is bullshit. Islam isn’t National Socialism. It hasn’t declared war on the world. Some Muslims have declared their faith requires them to kill and conquer; other Muslims disagree and condemn them. The idea that presenting a Muslim who doesn’t want to kill all non-believers is some kind of propaganda lie is nonsense.His argument is the equivalent of arguing we shouldn’t have Catholic protagonists because they all endorse the Church’s cover-up of child molestation. Or that since some Christians still favor the death penalty for gays, therefore having a Christian who doesn’t hate gays is an unbelievable character. Except of course, that his argument against Muslims is echoed by lots of people in the real world who believe Muslims shouldn’t be treated equally: they have less right to open mosques than Christians to open churches, less right to worship free of government surveillance, less right to be in politics (Glenn Beck once said he wanted to ask Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison if he could prove he wasn’t working with terrorists).Distorting the views of any faith or its worshippers is toxic. But targeting a minority that’s already the subject of bigotry is particularly poisonous. (Image by Adrian Alphona, rights with current holder)

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Eliminating a few politics-related bookmarks

LGM reports that the strongest opposition to the Affordable Care Act is among seniors who already have Medicare coverage and aren’t affected by ACA. So they have nothing to lose if it’s destroyed.

And possibly a lot to gain. As LGM points out here, Florida stands to lose a ton of money by not signing on to the ACA Medicare expansion (leading to the dubious lawsuit charging that the state does, however, have a right to other federal funding that’s being rescinded) but Republicans (or many of them) are determined not to play ball, whether it’s the fear of someone getting something off hard-working American’s tax dollars or the president’s race or the political damage from people liking a Democrat-backed program.

•Copyright law may authorize John Deere to control how farmers modify or work on their tractors (ditto for how we modify, remodel or tinker with our cars). Because the software under the hood is proprietary and covered by copyright law, so in John Deere’s view farmers don’t own tractors, they have an “implied license” to operate the vehicle.

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Political stuff

Yezidi girls have been captured and raped by ISIS. Some have made it home.  From the sound of the report, the Yezidi are a lot more understanding about what the women have been through than a lot of people would be.

•The Bush administration insisted we needed to lock terrorists up as enemy combatants and put them on trial in special military courts because the regular court system couldn’t do the job. As the recent Boston conviction shows, it can. So why, exactly, do we need Guantanamo?

Here’s a truly jaw-dropping argument against the Affordable Care Act (by a Republican politician): it will humiliate him politically if he accepts benefits under the Affordable Care Act, therefore the act shouldn’t exist.

•Sweden’s foreign minister calls a spade a spade—specifically, she calls the Saudis out on their hideously sexist and antidemocratic regime.

•When pols and pundits warn us about how evil Iran is (and certainly it’s a politically repressive regime), remember this list of things we’ve done to Iran. Digby, linking to the post, adds more about the USS Vincennes shooting down an Iranian airliner, killing 290 civilians, followed by a Navy cover-up.

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Bad right-wing insights, followed by good news.

Yes, I know, I could fill several hundred blog posts with that topic. But it’s been a long day, so just a couple:

•Our old friend David Brooks (past posts about his idiocy here, here and here, among others) says that putting body cams on cops is a terrible, terrible idea. Instead of encounters with police being warm, friendly and laid-back, the body cam screams that we don’t trust them, which will make our encounters confrontational. Brooks also claimed Snowden was shredding the bonds of trust when he went public. And I’d completely agree with his view of the cops, if only I lived in Mayberry.

•Courtesy of slacktivist, a preacher explains in a newspaper column that our policy on the new Iran deal should be based on our Biblical understanding of the End Times because this is all part of arming Gog and Magog for their attack on Israel. I notice that while he refers to the Rapture, he avoids saying that it’s not mentioned anywhere in the Bible and references the Left Behind books instead.

•And no, fighting against gay marriage is not like resistance to the Nazis.

Now, the good news:

•New Mexico now says that police can’t keep property taken by civil forfeiture unless there’s a conviction. And the police don’t get to keep the money even if there is a conviction.

•Quality Egg falsified records for its egg shipments to make them look fresher than they were. And astonishingly, the eggs were linked to a salmonella outbreak that sickened almost 2,000 people. Having two executives spend three months in jail is a small punishment, but I usually expect nothing, so yay!

•New Jersey says anyone who claims a religious exemption against childhood vaccination has to explain their belief, and why it’s a part of their religion rather than just offer a blanket assertion.

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Political miscellanea

Mindy Kaling’s brother, Vijay Chokal-Ingam claims he was able to win admission to medical school by pretending to be black on his admissions forms, when the real him couldn’t make the cut. This article shows that it’s nonsense—among other things, Chokal-Ingam didn’t apply to the same schools as himself, so how does he know?

And of course, if it were possible to fake being a legacy admission and get admission that way, surely it would be just as un-meritocratic, but critics of affirmative action just skip over that bit.

•Tucker Carlson of the Daily Caller

has a brother, Buckley who’s charming message to a New York official is described here. Suffice to say, he implies she’s some kind of frigid bitch who has never engaged in certain sexual acts, which proves she’s worth of mockery.

Tucker Carlson says his brother meant it in “the nicest way.” I am … unconvinced. And he can’t imagine why anyone thinks this is worthy of fuss and ooh, his brother has been very hurt by the public response.

Cry me a river.

•Textbooks used in Texas schools must emphasize how the Bible and Moses are the foundations of American democracy.  Never mind facts when you can force religion on schoolkids.

•A conservative predicts how gay marriage and birth control (except the rhythm method which is totally different from all other birth control) will destroy America. Meanwhile, over in Iran, the religious authorities continue restricting access to birth control and abortion (as well as not meeting clothing rules and other mandates).

•As I’ve mentioned before, when men snap, some people are willing to blame women. Some men’s rights activists in fact think it makes perfect sense to take violent action against the oppressor feminists.

•Libertarians frequently invoke the danger of ridiculous customer lawsuits to justify tort reform. They rarely acknowledge that lawsuits and the threat of lawsuits can be just as bad in business-to-business courtroom action. Like the Italian pizza-making association threatening to sue McDonalds for a commercial implying kids prefer burgers to pizza. Or patent trolls who claim to have patented podcasting so everyone better pay up.

•A number of companies have adopted an on-call approach to retail work: workers don’t know until right before their shift whether they’re actually working or not (which makes a mess of both scheduling and budgeting). New York’s attorney general is looking into the legality.

•Equally nasty, Amazon makes warehouse workers sign non-compete agreements that ban them from working with any company that sells competing products for 18 months after they leave Amazon (as the article notes, what products don’t compete with Amazon). Non-compete agreements are supposed to protect against employees walking off with trade secrets; targeting warehouse workers feels more like a way to discourage them quitting grueling jobs that pay poorly for the work.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

Hugo a-go-go

So last year, there was a lot of controversy over a couple of conservative writers pushing for various conservatives’ work to get on the Hugo ballot. And this year it happened again. As noted at the i09 link, it’s not like Hugo awards were purely about merit (no awards are) but explicitly politicizing them (in the name of fighting back against the oppressor minorities and feminists! who deny white men their rightful awards) isn’t going to help.

That said, the nominee list includes Ann Leckie, who I hear is brilliant (I don’t believe she’s part of the “Sad Puppies” slate), Jim Butcher, whom I like a lot (I don’t know I’d pick any of the Dresden files as Hugo material, but I don’t read enough current books to really judge), and The Goblin Emperor which I’ve heard well-recommended. It has three stories by John C. Wright; while I’ve heard Wright’s fiction is good (despite his right-wing views. And his right-wing views. And his ignorance about comic books. And sexism) I doubt it’s that good (but in fairness, haven’t read it, don’t know).

John Scalzi suggests fans do the same as with any ballot: read the stories, vote for the good stuff, vote no award when appropriate (it’s an option). Jim Hines says read the stories if you want, but if you don’t want to read works by anti-gay or racist writers, there’s no reason to force yourself. Here, Scalzi mocks the idea of a sinister conspiracy (which the slate supposedly fights against) and points out not all the “Sad Puppies” are necessarily part of the movement or aware of the issues. Abyss and Apex likewise points out that just because it was on the Sad Puppies list doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve an award (I’d agree, though as they’ve published me twice, I’m not completely objective).

Matthew Surridge has a really detailed thoughtful analysis of Brad Torgersen’s claims (Torgersen is a prime mover behind The Sad Puppies) that the Hugo Awards are selling out the genre, going for literary snob-value and left-wing politics instead of the entertaining adventures people really want to see. Surridge shows that a)what we’ve got now isn’t that different from the way things used to be; and b)adventure and popular stories do indeed win awards still.

This part is actually a fairly familiar refrain for a movie lover: that the Oscars are obsessed with ART! instead of with movies people actually like. Or that the Oscars are obsessed with BOX OFFICE! instead of merit. I think Surridge makes his case that Torgersen is dead wrong.


Filed under Politics, Reading, Writing