Monday, September 14, 2015

Philosophy and Anger Management

My first article on the European immigration/invasion crisis, “’Just Do it!’ Kant and the Immigration Crisis,” elicited some very hostile responses from readers on Facebook, a response I was not aware of until alerted to the cacophony by a friend. In the name of protecting the identities of the perpetrators, I will not provide the link to that particular Facebook account nor name names of those who called me “obnoxious,” an “amateur critic” of Kant, or just plain but uncivilly and unjustifiably angry. I’m not sure if any of them has yet read “Part Two.”

After reading all of the comments on this particular Facebook page, I left my own, not thinking I’d need to return with more words to the wise. My Facebook comments here are edited for style and ease of reading:

To all the talking heads here who think I’m obnoxious, or who don’t like my “manner” of commentary, or who think I’m an “amateur critic" of Islam and of Obama and of Third World immigration and invasion and of all the other plagues that threaten Western civilization, or who question my grasp of Immanuel Kant:

When you’ve written four successful fiction series, including Sparrowhawk, the Skeen novels, the Hanrahan novels, and the Fury novels, and a handful of nonfiction works, plus about 1,400,000 words of commentary on Rule of Reason in over 750 columns, which do not include numerous reviews in the Wall Street Journal and various encyclopedias and other print publications over the years, risked your life by speaking your mind in a public forum and possibly earning an Islamic fatwa or the unwanted attention of our own government – then you may presume to judge my “manner” and any other offensive faux pas you wish to accuse me of committing.

As Howard Roark, the hero of Rand’s The Fountainhead, did not discuss the merits of his work with members of the Architectural Guild, I don’t discuss the merits of my work with people who don’t seem to have anything else to do but nitpick (and when there are not nits to pick). This is why I haven’t participated in your discussions here. I can only thank those few who came to my defense on the matter of the Kant/Immigration column of mine. And that is all I have to say.

But, the thread went on and on. I finally felt it necessary to leave another comment.

Mr. K, on whose Facebook page this session of the Star Chamber is occurring, wrote in answer to another commentator’s remarks: 

Peter: I have not read Mr. Cline's fiction, but I have heard good things from those who have. Mr. Cline's position on immigration, like his position on LGTB people, plays right into the hands of the left. Leftists are forever saying: capitalism is for straight white American men to get rich by oppressing everyone else who is different. By saying foreigners and people with atypical sexual desires are grave threats to civilization--as opposed to irrationality and altruism--is to make their case for them, intentionally or not.

My reply was:

Mr. K:  You could just as well claim that Rand’s fiction “plays into the hands of the left” and “makes their case for them, intentionally or not” regarding capitalism and LGTBs and foreigners and any other current topic one might wish to raise. As Rand didn’t write her fiction unintentionally to “play into” anyone’s hands, so I do. I can’t control what others “intend” my fiction to be or to represent.  She didn’t write her fiction to raise the hackles of conservative William F. Buckley or to cause indigestion in any leftist critic or intellectual.

You seem to be looking at fiction through a counter-Marxist lens – the Marxist position being that fiction represents an expression of class, or of race, or of gender.  Well, let the Marxists make their “let’s give his texts a close reading so we can see what are his subtexts and his encoded racial and gender messages” claims, but you shouldn’t dignify their “deconstruction” of fiction by saying that my or Rand’s fiction is somehow guilty of bolstering their arguments against capitalism (or freedom of speech, etc.). 

Moreover, if I recall correctly, Leonard Peikoff once received a proposal to produce Rand’s novel “Anthem” as a play with the stipulation that it feature a multi-racial cast. He turned it down. I don’t know his reasons, but I gather it was because there are no homosexual or lesbian or black or other ethnic characters in any of her fiction.  There are some “ethnic” characters in my fiction, particularly and necessarily in the Sparrowhawk series, and in some in the Skeen detective series; the homosexual ones are pathetic, the lesbian ones vicious, and in China Basin there’s particularly brutal bisexual, but in all the titles reason trumps their race or gender. 

 I suggest you sample my fiction and judge for yourself. But don’t approach it with a “deconstructive” motive in mind, that is, expecting to find my intentional, unintentional, or subliminal “subtexts.”  I don’t “do” subtexts. You won’t need a secret decoding ring to get something out of my fiction. You won’t need to subject it to cryptanalysis. There are no “signifiers” or “signifieds” in my fiction. Should a deconstructionist claim to find any, then he’s seeing things that aren’t there.

I half expect someone to reply to that by pointing to my “White Literary Privilege,” that is, my making all my characters “white” with few ethnic characters. No, I’m not being fair now. I would expect that from the harpies of Academe. I will confess that I have one Chinese character in An August Interlude.

And then there's that "anger" issue. So what if I'm "angry"? How many of Rand's columns were written from "anger"? Plenty. Hell hath no fury like a philosopher scorned. But it's not okay for an "amateur critic” of Kant to write from "anger"?

Mr. P left this suggestion:

What would interest me much more would be to know if Mr Cline is open to having the basis of his ideas challenged (not so much the principles, which I agree with) if they were based on facts, on correct observations about current events in immigration and refugees. I had a similar try with Mr Mazlish, who holds views similar to his, and got nowhere with simply showing that many of his facts were not real, but manipulated by his sources. Often they are conflations of truth and fiction.

The truth is that, sadly today's Internet and today's radio and TV shows are sadly totally unreliable to use as sources to build ideas upon. They are 80% fabrications and only 20 % truth.

No, Mr. P, I'm not interested in debating my position. I don't need to validate it. Read what I have to say, take or leave it. I've already done the heavy lifting. I'm guessing also that because I'm not speaking from a position of "authority," everything I have to say can be challenged. Challenge away. Although Mr. P is right about the bias in today’s news reportage on the “refugee” and “asylum seekers” investing Europe. But I don’t get my news from the MSM anymore. I get it from Jihad Watch, Pamela Geller’s Atlas Shrugs, Gatestone, The Gates of Vienna, Steve Emerson’s IPT, FrontPage, and Sultan Knish, among many other sources. Those are all sources I trust to tell the truth. If I read the MSM’s version of the news, it is with a jaundiced eye and a developed skill of reading behind the lines, as I’ve read the New York Times for decades.

Here I end this column, my anger having been spent, to turn to other, more pressing matters.

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