So many choices, it’s hard to know just where to start… The virtue-signalling clique of the perpetually offended have made it near impossible for me to fail. That’s a shame because failing spectacularly is so my metier!
They’re a curious bunch, the virtue-signalling clique. They embrace whatever the cause de jour of their talking heads is, for today, regardless of contradictions, logic or thought. Yesterday: Guns BAD (especially for civilians). Masks GOOD – if I see you without one I will scream abuse at you, no matter what the circumstance. Today: Guns GOOD (in Ukraine. They’re still civilians) but bad anywhere else (the idea that preparedness, practice and skill with firearms makes the world of difference is too hard for them to grasp). Masks not being worn by any of the Ukrainian refugees, general populace there… or their favorite politicians in a class full of masked kids…
Stats is my background, and colors my way of thinking, and I can’t but help notice that they’re self-selected from a rather narrow group. No, they don’t all belong, but it’s like shooting at individuals in a mob of attacking rioters… sorry, mostly peaceful protesters. The odds of hitting a felon with a criminal record in a randomly selected normal crowd… are slim. Do it three times in a row, and there reasonable assumptions about the crowd proportions to be made. With the virtuous clique, the odds are very high they’ll be white, female (far better than 51% it ought to be), urban or peri-urban, childless, probably from middle-class/ upper middle class parents, not very bright, and with no particular attainments. Often with arts degrees in ‘terribly’ useful things, the only discernible value of which is allowing them to claim this makes them qualified to tell lesser people what to do (they like jobs in government or HR). Often single. Often middle-aged and with time and at least some money on their hands.
Like any population segment they have tastes in what to read (what they are told by their talking heads is good, in general, although I believe quite a lot of them read other books because no-one knows quite what they read in secret in their apartment. I will never forget the two rabid feminists moaning bitterly that more people crammed in to be seen at their panels, than ever bought their books).
Be grateful. They’re there to help us weaker lesser folk. Because we couldn’t possibly be as capable of making our own decisions as they, with their near-zero life-experience and tepid intellect are. We need them to nanny us.
I managed to offend one earlier this week, when I happened on a FB post about an author I enjoy and think valuable to learn from: Georgette Heyer. Now Heyer was a prolific writer, who really had a major formative influence on the Regency Romance sub-genre. She also wrote a number of historicals, set across earlier English History, particularly some very good accounts of the Peninsular wars, and some murder-mysteries. The article was Vox – so had the political left-wing slant one expects, as well as the assumption that because they hadn’t read Heyer all their short lives, no-one, or at least no-one really important, had. They had the obligatory moan about racism etc. etc. and eagerly fantasized about Hollywood remaking these stories into the sort of thing they’d like.
To which my reaction was a devout ‘God, please, spare us Hollywood wrecking Heyer’s books.’
This inevitably provoked one the virtue-signalling clique of the perpetually offended (who, to no one’s surprise seems to fit the above demographic) who informed me that Heyer – who sold her first book in the early 1920’s was ‘already a racist classist antisemitic homophobic wreck.`
Ah. Books set in the Regency era – with the mores and setting of around 200 years ago, written by an author who formed her own mores around a hundred years ago, failed to live up to some pig-ignorant wokie’s wet dream. Heyer’s research is superb. She does put in some anachronisms, but she writes of a small class (the upper ten thousand) of a real historical social group. THEY WERE ‘Classist’. Hell’s teeth, I read one of my own ancestors (a lieutenant in Peninsula wars) crossed letter home. Heyer reflected the attitudes of the group she was writing about so well she brought that letter to life for me. Most of this social group was almost exclusively white, English. That’s because that was reality.
Read some damned real history, and you’ll find that ‘going to Jews’ (borrowing money) was a real term, and also reflected a high degree of reality. There were undoubtably Jews in other areas of life, but they were very much involved in banking – both formal and informal – which, as now, is a vicious business. It was the one area of life the upper ten thousand would have dealt with them, and indeed I suspect her reflection of attitudes at that time to Jews was accurate. It wasn’t nice, or kind, but that was how badly Jewish people were regarded then. Should we accept it was right or good? Don’t be silly. Heyer doesn’t. She just reflects the reality of the time she wrote about, just as I reflect the fact that women were second-class citizens in many of the historical societies I write about. That was the reality, and we are perfectly capable of seeing for ourselves that would be unacceptable now, but was that way then, and most people then… would not have thought it possible to be otherwise. Real history was not always nice, and certainly parts of it are not good to be imitated. But it was real. So were the gin-sluiceries, and drinking habits of the populace, the foundlings, the abandoned mothers, Heyer wrote about. Should the author have pretended it was otherwise?
The mysterious one is ‘homophobic.’ I wondered if she put it in just because it was a magic word. Or maybe because she was disappointed that the hero/heroine wasn’t obligatorially homosexual, along with 2/3 of characters (of various Plascon shades, except for the white male villain) as in so many modern books. Yes, I can’t think of any homosexual characters, which I am sure would constitute a reason for virtue-signallers to indulge in a five minute hate and cancelling – but… this reality thing again. At the time, certainly, homosexuality existed – but you got hanged for it. That aside, it turns out that the problem is disdain for effeminate men – because that had to be aimed at homosexuals. Enter Claude Darracot, one of several of Heyers flamboyantly effeminate dandies, and moderately ridiculed – and with a female he fancies. Dandies do make up a reasonable number of her characters, some of which get ridiculed – Sir Nugent Fotherby – married to the dim-witted and very female Ianthe. Oddly, Heyer does take the mickey out of very ‘effeminate’ silly females, plainly preferring courageous, strong-willed female heroines – which put her a generation at least ahead of most female authors of her time. But that doesn’t count, obviously.
Our virtue-signaller however is a hero for her time, or at for least lesser people. She makes a brave announcement that “People need to know that she and her books are egregiously racist (particularly antisemitic), classist, and homophobic. Bad enough that many editions have been expurgated of the most obvious stuff. I really really really don’t want someone, particularly from one of the minoritized groups, to start reading expecting a Regency romp, and be blindsided by that kind of offensiveness.“
Ah. She is of finer metal than the rest of us. How BRAVE. She’s read all of them for us, and knows that editions have been Bowdlerized for the reader’s sensibilities. You lesser weak mortals, particularly ‘minoritized groups’ (like women, who despite being a majority are a minority. Amazing, this new mathematics) are being warned and protected by the power of the White Girl.
Look. There is no reasoning with her ilk. They know they’re right. The fact that all books (including the ones being written by darlings right now reflect the mores of their writer’s time, and read twenty or fifty or hundred years from now will have ‘problems’ for whatever the virtue-signalling pack of that time gets their panties in twist about. Ignore them. Write as best you can. A good book is still a great story, and most readers don’t need nanny to know things have changed from when the author wrote it. Sanitizing history stops anyone ever learning from it. But then, to paraphrase Orwell, they do think history is ever fluid to be rewritten to support their present narrative.