"Your actions, which I'm calling unprofessional, which exposed my racism/prejudice/extreme America-centrism and privilege mean that you will never have a story accepted by our magazine."
The above is my summary of the comment left by an editor, Mr W. Sanders, of Helix SF Magazine in response to a lj posted comment revealing his personal rejection letter on a particular story.
Last post a sociology major was telling people of colour that they were doing it wrong. He's got a degree and he knows people of colour don't use the term people of colour anymore. Also, white allies need to stop being sanctimonious in pointing out racism.
This post it's an editor who first refers to - hell I'm going to c/p it.
No, I'm sorry but I can't use this.
There's much to like. I'm impressed by your knowledge of the Q'uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people - at the end we still don't really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can - and I was pleased to see that you didn't engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.
However, as I say, I can't use it. Because Helix is a speculative fiction magazine, and this isn't speculative fiction.
Oh, you've tacked on some near-future elements at the end, but the future stuff isn't in any way necessary to the story; it isn't even connected with it in any causal way. True, the narrator seems to be saying that it was this incident which caused him to take up the jihad, but he's being mendacious (like all his kind, he's incapable of honesty); he was headed in that direction from the start, and if it hadn't been the encounter with the stripper it would have been something else.
Now if it could be shown that something in this incident showed him HOW the West could be overthrown, then perhaps the story would qualify as SF. That might have been interesting. As it is, though, no connection is shown and in fact we are never told just how this conquest - a highly improbable event, to say the least - came about.
There are some other problems with the story, but there's no point in going into them, because they don't really matter from my viewpoint. It's not speculative fiction and I can't use it in my magazine.
And I don't think you're going to sell it to any other genre magazine, for that reason - though you'd have a hard time anyway; most of the SF magazines are very leery of publishing anything that might offend the sheet heads. I think you might have a better chance with some non-genre publication. But I could be wrong.
Please note: It's on the internet and I'm reposting it. And I think Mr. Sanders is just realizing one of the harsh realities of racism - assuming the person he's speaking to / writing to is 'one of his' and not 'one of them'. That is, he assumed it was safe to to 'tell the joke' or 'make the comment' and didn't think about the impact of his words.
Which is an odd thing for an editor to do, don't you think? Not to think about the impact of his words.
This ended up online due to the common practice of sharing rejection letters with fellow friend writers. That it happened online vs offline doesn't change the practice or suddenly pull a veil of privacy over the communication. It's a rejection letter, a piece of official mail by a representative of a company.
Remember my summary at the top? Here's the link to Sander's actual response to the posting. It's a responding FU. It truly is.
Of course none of these people have read the story, and so they fail to grasp the context - that I was talking not about Muslims, or Arabs, or Oompa Loompas or any other religious or ethnic group, but about terrorists and violent extremists. (That being, after all, what your story was about.)
Yes, Mr. Sanders. I believe you. Not. 'Cause you see, last time I checked, no one was calling Timothy Mcveigh or the Creationists who built a museum, 'sheet heads'. Also, can you point me to the homeland of the Oompa Loompas and their holy/sacred buildings? Cause that little titbit was news to me. Seriously it was.
ETA: The original poster, the writer who received the rejection letter, has commented to this entry pointing out a fuller explanation at his blog here. He's alarmed and aghast at the outcry and says Mr. Sanders is being taken out of context. So, I have asked him, given the content of his comment and that blog entry if he was the originator of the terms Mr. Sanders used in the rejection letter (here). I will update with his answer should I get a response.
The response from Luke aka Solipcyst.Blogspot.com. He did not word feed Mr. Sanders the bigoted and racist words.