Saturday, May 9, 2009

2nd verse, same as the first

Lois McMaster Bujold, A PARAPHRASE:"Stop picking on the white woman's fiction and actually DO something for the 2 million strong, not at all disappeared Native Americans. Here, look at these charities I found and JUST contributed to, PROVING that I really care about the important issues."


1. Sometimes a paraphrase will save you clicking a link that'll raise your blood pressure.

2. Warning: The spoiler coded c/p includes phrases like 'Due Process' and 'Evidence' when it comes to judging the words/actions of a white author. Apparently all the theory and citation laid down in the Tor comment thread is not evidence enough. Also the c/p includes the thought 'Only NDN's should be complaining.' And the phrase 'I asked my friend...'

3. Is there a slick ass salesman out there telling all these white authors 'just the right words to say' and happily omitting the fact that it makes them sound like white privileged, progressives as a comforting label, twits? Oh wait, that salesman is the institutional racism embedded in society, always there with them from cradle to grave.

OK, I’ve gone away and thought about this for a few days. Let’s try again. (Also resolved: do not make blog posts after midnight, or after consuming a sleeping pill that isn’t working.)

I have no argument with the larger issues of cultural/racial erasures and historical crimes in the real world; these are real and harrowing (and universal, the more you know about everywhere. _Carthago delenda est_ and all that. But 20,000 wrongs don’t make a right, merely a trend.) Ditto on-going local oppressions; despite the fact that Native Americans are over two million strong, voting citizens, fellow exiles in the 21st century, and many are educated, articulate, and perfectly able to speak for themselves (most of the major tribes have websites now, a thought both hopeful and boggling) poverty and discrimination do still fall disproportionately upon many others. Back to this in a moment.

I still have a profound problem with any argument that leaps from hearsay to condemnation without any intervening stop at “evidence”. It doesn’t matter *what* the subject is, the *form* is wrong, even if the conclusion after examining the evidence bears out the initial belief. And it’s just as wrong in a court of public discourse as it would be in a court of law. Worse, someone making this leap throws every other assertion they may make into doubt -- were they all arrived at as casually and cheaply? Don’t do this, people, and don’t let others get away with it, either -- because someday, your own life or happiness may depend upon just such due process.

But I also believe that a person who holds admirable opinions, yet does nothing, is scarcely distinguishable from a person who holds execrable opinions, and does nothing. Virtual virtue doesn’t count. Talk is cheap (especially on the Internet.) As Stephen Leacock swears he heard two Scottish Calvinists arguing on a train, on whether damnation is achieved through good works or grace alone, I’m on the good works side, myself.

The past is beyond anyone’s reach, and history is fractal -- one sperm over, and we would all have been our siblings, and our own self-centered universes would never have sprung into being at all -- so what can an ordinary person do right-here-right-now about any given hurt in the world? The two standard answers are money and time -- well, and blood, but I don’t direct where that goes. And “start anywhere” is usually pretty good advice, when one is spoiled for choice.

So I asked my friend who knows about such things, and she supplied these, her favorites -- more could perhaps be added:

“Oglala Lakota College -- (They always need contributions to help students pay their loans, without which they can't graduate.)
Lakota Funds (making mini loans for economic development and training people to run their own businesses)
Soaring Eagle -- not Lakota, but Cheyenne is a neighboring tribe; this is a residential home for elderly Cheyenne started by their long-term priest, Father Emmett Hoffmann, to help elderly folks who needed care (and keep them from being sent off to Denver, away from family and anyone who spoke their language):
Also, Running Strong for American Indian Youth -- not limited to Lakota, but does do neat things there -- organic gardens, etc.”

Didn’t take me long to choose, as I’m always for education -- which reminds me that I need to contribute to the engineering scholarship fund in my Dad’s name back at OSU -- but to make it extra easy --

It’s as much of a snap as, I found.

And you may at least congratulate yourselves for tipping me over from “I really ought to do that one of these days,” to “There! Done!”

Full disclosure: It was I who invited Pat over, a few years back, to watch a fascinating BBC documentary DVD titled “Walking with Prehistoric Beasts”, which started the cascade of interests that resulted in the book you aren’t reading. So, while the first rule for avoiding Internet insanity is still “do not feed the energy monster”, I really cannot tiptoe away from this. Even though it would be *infinitely* smarter to do so.

Ta, L. (Don’t say I never revise…)

ETA: In other news, W.S.'s racism has begun to distort his concept of reality even more virulently, showing more obvious outward signs of mental instability. I advise all to continue to avoid. Getting into arguments with those who cannot deal with reality as it is, that is those who do not wish to get better, is fruitless and wearying and depressing.


  1. seriously, what? what was that comment? what did that mean?

  2. Delux: Oh DV, don't you know? Throwing modern money at things makes it all better. It proves caring and human empathy. It proves awareness.

    For example, everyone who threw money at Obama's campaign, who is white? Can't possibly be racist or have racist underpinnings in their psyche! Cause they gave him money! MONEY! The most important thing in the world!!!

    Respect? Compassion? Comprehension? They mean NOTHING.

    She threw money at the poor needy, but 2 million strong NDNs. That exonerates the book.

  3. I love the fact that, you know, the idea that there is something fucking problematic about writing a story that erases people out of history who have been, for the last few centuries, erased out of history as part of a campaign of genocide, is neither part of "real oppression", nor, evidence in itself, THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG.

    Oh, no, you have to read the book! Just like you can't complain about the Klan unless you go to a Klan meeting!

  4. Nenena:Then you missed the part where the fact that many tribes have websites "boggles" her. Her head would split in two if someone pointed out that Umoja, the women's only village in Kenya, also has a web presence and have used it to educate, inform and alert people to their world.

    Indigenous Peoples?! With websites?! Inconceivable!

  5. @_@
    I've been following that thread since your last post, and I nearly combusted when I read that.

    Why do tribes with websites "boggle" her?
    "Oh, look at the native Americans with their quaint little websites! It's as if they understand the technological advancement as well as myself! How BOGGLING."

    And why does she seem blind to the fact that media, in all its forms, *does* affect people? She acts as if this book isn't part of the underlying issue. Wtf?

    And *why* do arguements always round back to "tone" or in this case "form?" A point is a point.

  6. arrrrrrrgh my blood pressure!

    Okay. Choosing to not read the rest of that comment the first time around was a damn big exercise of my own privilege - y'know, being able to walk away from something like that when it pisses me off and *not* having it follow me home, so to speak - so yes, I came back today and read the rest of it, and I just...

    "Boggled" is a good word, so I'll steal it for my own use. I boggle. I boggle at her boggling at the whole websites things. I also boggle at her idea that clicking a donation link somehow takes MORE HERCULEAN EFFORT than actually discussing and confronting racism in fiction, particularly her own. Not to downplay the importance of the organizations that she links, because they are important, and they're doing good work, and they really do need that money. But still, EFFORT. She keeps using that word. I don't think it means what she thinks it means. The organizations that she links are are putting effort into this. The people discussing racism are putting effort into this. But clicking a donation link? That's important, and depending on your economic status it may be a real sacrifice, but at the same time, it's not EFFORT. Not in the sense that she's using the word.

  7. Further adding: I guess what really enrages me about this is that she's using a genuinely good action (donating money to those orgs) as a way to exercise her privilege and avoid confronting racism, which turns it into a Crappy Thing To Do. And that's massively unfair, especially to the orgs in question.