Unthanksgiving: Leftists Have Lost the Ability to Give Thanks

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Wed, Nov 26 - 9:00 am EDT | 2 years ago by
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    The Wright Perspective - Unthanksgiving

    There is an old Chinese legend of a golden scroll on which the secret of human happiness was written; and sages and warlords, merchant-princes and emperors sought the scroll with fervor. When found, they saw the secret of the scroll consisted of one ideogram printed over and over, an ideogram they could not read. However, there was a beggar girl who could read the mysterious word.

    If you know that word, then you know the secret of human happiness.

    Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays for three reasons: first, it drives the Leftists crazy because it is a clearly and openly Christian holiday in the midst of a society they are fervidly attempting to dechristianize; second, it drives Leftists crazy because it is a holiday based on a historical fact, namely, Indian and Pilgrim cooperation, which flips the middle finger at the Leftist preferred narrative about non-civilized White men committing malign genocide on the non-savage Red men; and finally and most of all, it drives the Leftists crazy because the concept of being thankful, of feeling gratitude, of thanks for benefits never to be repaid, is utterly alien to their way of thinking and their way of life.

    One benefit that accrues to the Christian, even if all of history, logic, and revelation should turn out to be false, and God a myth no more real than Global Warming, nonetheless, is that we Christian men feel gratitude toward our Creator for the infinite gift of creation. A noble pagan can indeed receive a gift in his stockings at Christmas, and be grateful to the giver, but a Christian can feel grateful for the legs he puts into his stockings each morning, and the world on which he walks.

    The Left does not give thanks, not to anyone, human or divine, past or present, not for any reason.

    Why not?

    From the pen of Ayn Rand–

    “You—who’re depraved enough to believe that you could adjust yourself to a mystic’s dictatorship and could please him by obeying his orders—there is no way to please him; when you obey, he will reverse his orders; he seeks obedience for the sake of obedience and destruction for the sake of destruction. You who are craven enough to believe that you can make terms with a mystic by giving in to his extortions—there is no way to buy him off, the bribe he wants is your life, as slowly or as fast as you are willing to give it in—and the monster he seeks to bribe is the hidden blank-out in his mind, which drives him to kill in order not to learn that the death he desires is his own.”

    No matter what one thinks of Ayn Rand‘s conclusions on other topics, one ought to stand in awe of her incisive and unparalleled clarity of insight into the mind of the Collectivist. Each time I am tempted to think that the villains in her novels are caricatures or exaggerations, I meet one in real life.

    Hers seems an extraordinary statement, to be sure, but regard the logic of it: If a Leftist were ever to feel gratitude, this would mean he felt a satisfaction of his demands. His demands would cease, hence, he would cease to be a Leftist.

    The Leftists do not even have gratitude to their own pioneers and forefathers. Instead of erecting shrines, like noble prechristian heathens, to their ancestors, these postmodern postchristian heathens turn on their ancestors and rend them, and dishonor the memory even of their own founders. Like Jupiter casting castrated Saturn into Hell, they maim and condemn their own fathers.

    An example comes from my own field, science fiction. If you are unfamiliar with the name Robert Heinlein, he is rightly called the Dean of Science Fiction; his pen is the one that first broke through from the pulps into the slicks, and then into juveniles, and then into the mainstream. Were it not for him, we would still be a Hugo Gernsbeckian ghetto.

    Heinlein was also a bold advocate for equality of all races and both sexes, at a time when such ideas were not discussed in polite society. He was the main champion in our little Science Fiction ghetto of all things Progressive and Leftwing, that is, the Leftwing of that time. (They have since reversed their standards, for example, swapping a principled opposition to censorship to a full-throated advocacy of it, or swapping an unprincipled opposition to monogamy to an even more unprincipled advocacy of abstinence combined with libertinism.)

    The Left owe Heinlein an immense debt of gratitude. Ergo they are ungrateful.

    While working on the novel that was to become Rocket Ship Galileo, Heinlein warned his agent that the inclusion of an ethnically diverse cast was not only deliberate—it was non-negotiable, and if an editor requested the removal of the Jewish character, Blassingame (the agent) was to take the book elsewhere.

    This is from the letter Heinlein wrote to his agent about his wishes:

    “I have deliberately selected a boy of Scotch-English pioneer ancestry, a boy whose father is a German immigrant, and a boy who is American Jewish. Having selected this diverse background they are then developed as American boys without reference to their backgrounds. You may run into an editor who does not want one of the young heroes to be Jewish. I will not do business with such a firm. The ancestry of the three boys is a “must” and the book is offered under those conditions. My interest was aroused in this book by the opportunity to show to kids what I conceive to be Americanism. The use of a diverse group . . . is part of my intent; it must not be changed. . . . I am as disinterested as a referee but I want to get over an object lesson in practical democracy.”

    Commenting on this is one Mitch Wagner, freak, writing on the blog maintained by Tor books — one of the largest and most well-respected names in science fiction publishing, as well as being my own publisher. This is not some overlooked corner or outlier opinion.

    Wagner snarks:

    This is all admirable, but let’s keep in mind what’s missing from this cast: Asians; disabled people; non-Americans of any kind; lesbians, gays, and the transgendered; Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or representatives of the other major world religions. Heinlein’s book was enormously ethnically diverse in that it included the full variety of American Judeo-Christian boys.

    And even the notion that the ethnically diverse boys are “developed as American boys without reference to their backgrounds” is a little creepy.

    The freakish Mr. Wagner is not satisfied that Heinlein stormed the breach for them, being the first science fiction writer to put a Jew (Morrie Abrams from Rocket Ship Galileo), a Filipino (Juan Rico, Starship Troopers), a Negro (Rod Walker from Tunnel in the Sky implicitly and Mr. Kiku from The Star Beast explicitly) a Mohammedan (Dr. “Stinky” Mahmoud from Stranger in a Strange Land) or a Maori girl (Podkayne from Podkayne of Mars) in the spotlight as a main character and hero or heroine, but then criticizes Heinlein for not having as a main character … who? A cross-dressing homosexual castrati Hindu as a main character in a children’s book published in 1947? The Democrat Party still had Jim Crow laws and segregation in the South, and in those days the militant arm of the Democrat Party, the KKK, were still lynching blacks.

    Do you understand to what the freakish Mr. Wagner is objecting? He is objecting to the melting pot theory that men of different races, locked into endless mutual hatred in the old world, can leave their hatred behind here in the new world. He is objecting to racelessness. Hence, he is a racist.

    Heinlein showed backbone and gorm and ran the risk of being blackballed and put out of business by the Left (who, then as now, have major influence amounting to near total control in the New York publication industry) — and for this bold stance, unheard-of at the time, the gormless and freakish Mr Wagner criticizes Mr. Heinlein.

    As Ayn Rand says, you cannot reason with such creatures, you cannot negotiate with them. Reasoning presupposes a standard of evidence that can be satisfied; negotiation presupposes a state of satisfaction that will silence further demands.

    The extortion can be material, as for money, or social, as for status, or psychological, as for a sense of unearned self-esteem, but the defining characteristic of the Left is that these things extorted are not earned.

    But a satisfied Leftist, a Leftist with nothing further to extort, is no longer a Leftist for the same reason that a Pirate who never plunders ships is not a Pirate, or a parasite without a host is no longer a parasite. They can never be satisfied.

    Why? Do they want to be unhappy, always victims, always weak, always pathetic, whining, unmanned, absurd, pathetic, and gormless?

    Despite what it seems, this is not due to a mental disorder. It is a disordered philosophy that rewards them for pretending to have a mental disorder. Giving into the temptation once makes it easier to give in the next time, in a soaring parabolic asymptote of unreality.

    Contrast the concept of entitlement and the concept of charity. Entitlement means one man is given another man’s money, hours and days of his life and life’s work, as a matter of right. The second man is, in effect, enslaved to the first for period covered by hours and days of labor lost to him.

    The second has no reason to feel gratitude to the first, since the labor and life of the first are the second man’s by right, not by grace.

    The second man extorts the first by means of white blackmail, that is, he holds the first man hostage not by means of some vice or crime of the first man, by but his virtue. The first man’s ability, his intelligence, his work, his integrity, his unwillingness to see the deserving poor suffer, all these are like the incriminating photos or gambling debts of a blackmailer, except strangely reversed. It is the blackmailer’s own vices and weakness that are used to blackmail the other.

    Now the truly subtle, yet inevitable, corruption of character takes place not the first time such a transfer of life and labor is expropriated, nor the second. It takes place whenever the second man realizes that his need, his inability, his suppurating wounds, his failure, and, in sum, his unmanliness, is what gives him the right to expropriate, and he wishes to exercise that right more fully, and can do it only by becoming ever more bloated in victimhood, ever less in manhood.

    Legitimate need is forgotten: invented need, make-believe wounds, become the stock in trade. No Leftist cares about honor killing or female genital mutilation. Indeed, they bend over backward to praise and protect the ‘religion of peace’ from criticism. Marvel Comics reissues one of their banner superheroines as a Muslim girl.

    But Leftists wax vocal over so-called micro-aggressions such as a space scientist seen wearing a Hawaiian shirt with bathing beauties pictured on it, blaming female inaptitude at physics on him; or a carefully edited video of men in bad sections of New York wolfwhistling at a model walking by, swishing her hips. The sheer, stark unreality of such naggings are beyond parody.

    The difference is that crusading on behalf of real women victims of real atrocities gets you no claim on the life and labor of any other person. To fight real rather than imaginary oppression, you would have to do something real rather than imaginary. There is no one to pay the white blackmail.

    The claim of victimhood grants you a right to treat your neighbors like livestock. The right is not bound by any logical or theoretical limit. It is limited by nothing but a pragmatic consideration that the herd, if roused, will turn and rend you.

    This has three corruptive side effects: first, the real victims or real charity cases are ignored. Second, the gratitude that accompanies charity vanishes. Gratitude vanishes. Third, whoever is most shrill, most unreasonable, most outrageous and insatiable in his demands get the most goods, once again, limited only by the pragmatic consideration that if the herd is roused they will turn on their tormentors.

    Whenever the linebacker is approaching the goalposts, and you are in danger of having your demands met, and therefore your power curtailed, you move the goalposts.

    Thanksgiving, charity, gratitude, is mutually exclusive with insatiable demands that all things be given you by right.

    This is why the freakish Mr Wagner cannot express thanksgiving for a pioneer like Heinlein, and feminists can shriek about a Hawaiian shirt but not about a burka.

    This is why they hate Thanksgiving. They have sold their souls for a mess of pottage, and have lost the ability to give thanks.

    In case you were wondering, the one word written again and again on the front and back of the golden scroll of happiness in the Chinese legend is this: GRATITUDE.

    And another word for gratitude is thanksgiving.

    Don’t miss last week’s column: Talking Past Each Other: Truth and Untruth.

    John C. Wright is a retired attorney and newspaperman who was only once hunted by the police. He is a graduate of St. John College (home of Mortimer Adler’s “Great Books Program). In 2004 he foreswore his lifelong atheism and joined the Roman Catholic Church. He has published over 10 SF novels, including one nominated for a Nebula award, and was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “this fledgling century’s most important new SF talent.” He currently lives in fairytale-like happiness with his wife, the authoress L. Jagi Lamplighter, and their four children.

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      • Logos

        “The Leftists do not even have gratitude to their own pioneers and forefathers. Instead of erecting shrines, like noble prechristian heathens, to their ancestors, these postmodern postchristian heathens turn on their ancestors and rend them, and dishonor the memory even of their own founders. Like Jupiter casting castrated Saturn into Hell, they maim and condemn their own fathers.”

        That is an incredibly powerful and insightful paragraph. I have never read it put better or more clearly. And at the same time it highlights the profound sorrow that they must live their lives in. How crushing to the human spirit must it be to say I am no one child. And how alone must one feel if the only hands they can touch are made of flesh, but, not mind and soul, for they have cut themselves off from the past. Brrrr, it is cold out there.

        Thank you for yet another wonderful essay Mister Wright. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

        • Shawn Smith

          It is profoundly depressing to imagine the world they live in, of not being able to look up to anyone. Of not having any saints or heroes.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Of not having any saints or heroes.”

          Saints in the sense of people who intercede for you with God, who lived perfect lives? No.

          Heroes? Plenty. But many of us also realize that our heroes are human beings, and to wipe that away both lessens them and increases the gap between what heroes can accomplish and what “normal people” are expected to.

          It’s not a depressing world at all, once you stop trying to judge it by standards that don’t apply.

        • Shawn Smith

          I was roundly criticized not that long ago for speaking admiringly of Socrates, Augustine and Pascal, particularly in comparison to him. He somehow got the impression I was speaking of them “worshipfully”. All I had said was that their intellect was pretty clearly superior to either of ours. If that is not a world without heroes, I don’t know what is.

          Of course, it doesn’t help that the people the left is inclined to make heroes out of are almost universally scumbags. One of the primary figures of the Democratic party today is a without a doubt a serial sexual harasser and probably a rapist as well. Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Barrenhood, was a racist eugenicist and at least once addressed the KKK (not to admonish them, I am fairly sure.) I am, at this very moment, wearing a shirt mocking young leftists’ adoration of Che Guevara. It has a picture of Adolph Hitler and the caption, “My Che shirt is in the laundry.” One of the founding figures of leftist thought, Rousseau, abandoned his wife and children apparently without the slightest sense of shame. Scumbags to a man.

        • HMSLion

          Love the shirt idea! Brilliant!

        • Shawn Smith

          Saw it a few months ago and cracked up laughing. My wife only agreed that I could order one if I never wore it in public with her. The downside is that you do have to be prepared to explain it at any point.

          Here’s the URL: http://www.7bucktees.com/shop/my-che-shirt-is-in-the-laundry-hitler-t-shirt/

        • Steven Schwartz

          If that’s brilliant, so is wearing a shirt with a crescent and star and the slogan “My cross shirt is in the laundry”. Since almost no one would wear both, it’s just a way to irritate people.

          Might as well stick with the old classic “Nuke an Unborn Gay Whale for Christ” and get *everyone* offended.

        • Shawn Smith

          Ah, yes, because Islam and Christianity are exactly morally equivalent. Don’t you ever get tired of making and defending such preposterous claims?

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Ah, yes, because Islam and Christianity are exactly morally equivalent. Don’t you ever get tired of making and defending such preposterous claims?”

          They’re as equivalent as Hitler and Che.

          ” It makes a very clear, concise point about what kinds of people the left turns into heroes,”

          And that same shirt makes a point about the validity/lack thereof of middle-eastern based monotheistic religions.

          Show me someone with a Hitler and a Che t-shirt, and maybe you’d have a point. As it is, since it’s referring to a non-existent group of people, all you’re really doing is irritating people.

          ” If you can’t understand that satire is usually delivering a message, you really aren’t fit for debate among adults.”

          Oh, I’m aware it can send a message. Indeed, so can “Nuke an…” As it happens, you’re delivering a ridiculous point, which rather mitigates its use as “satire”.

        • Shawn Smith

          Please tell me all about the great moral differences between Che Guevara and Adolph Hitler. I’m all ears. Other than a difference in scale (Hitler had millions executed for his ideology; Guevara had hundreds (thousands?) executed for his.), I’m not really aware why they ‘re so different. But I’m willing to learn. Go for it.

          While you’re at it, maybe you can explain why it’s so great that our (leftist) universities are hiring terrorists like Ayers, Dohrn, & Boudin.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Please tell me all about the great moral differences between Che Guevara and Adolph Hitler. I’m all ears”

          One of them advocated as necessary for human survival the elimination of an entire religious/ethnic group.

          One of them didn’t.

          That sufficient for you?

          (And if we’re going to argue that “Had people killed for their ideology” is equal in all cases, then we had best add the Catholic Church as one of the great evils of all time, as well. Shall we create the litany of Popes as mass-murderers, if you feel that “people dying because of an ideology” is equivalent in all cases?”

          “While you’re at it, maybe you can explain why it’s so great that our
          (leftist) universities are hiring terrorists like Ayers, Dohrn, &
          Boudin.”

          Well, let’s see — our universities are also hiring torture advocates like John Yoo, and probable war criminals like Henry Kissinger, so I’d say it balances out.

          Heck — Boudin and Dohrn were punished for their crimes, and Ayers’ charges were dropped, IIRC, for prosecutorial and investigative misconduct. That’s more than’s been asked of Yoo or was asked of Kissinger.

          Or don’t you believe that the justice system’s whole notion of “doing one’s time” is sufficient?

        • Shawn Smith

          I offer you a chance to educate yourself about Che Guevara. I’m not optimistic, but the opportunity is there if you so choose. http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/blog/michael-j-totten/truth-about-che-guevara

        • Steven Schwartz

          Interesting article — I will have to dig further into the research, because I’m not going to change my opinion based on a single article by a journalist whose biases I don’t know, especially when they are taking the “Everyone else has been wrong” tack.

          I’ll point out that even if you prove Che was bad, you haven’t proven anything *else* you set out to claim. And, indeed, if Che was bad, let’s move Pope Innocent III in the list of “History’s Great Villains”. We can play this game all day long, Shawn.

        • Shawn Smith

          Okay, here’s the crucial distinction you’re failing to make here: Guevara’s crimes were motivated by, and affirmed by, his ideology. This is evidenced by the fact that every single Communist dictator in history has done similar, if not worse things. He was a good communist. Pope Innocent III’s crimes are rebuked by Catholicism. There is no basis in Christian thought to affirm his actions, and no consistent pattern of those Christians hold up as examples behaving the same.

          Also, do you really think you’re going to shock a Christian, even a faithful Catholic, by pointing out that some of the medieval popes were horrible human beings? We know this. We understand our history quite well. For heaven’s sake, Dante literally had a special place in Hell for corrupt popes. The question is not are there some bad people within the church, even in very high positions, the question is what does the church say about such actions? Does it encourage them or rebuke them? Guevara was an excellent communist. The corrupt medieval popes were terrible Christians.

          Do you understand the point I’m making here at all?

        • Steven Schwartz

          “This is evidenced by the fact that every single Communist dictator in history has done similar, if not worse things.”

          I’ll bring your point about popes right back at you — Trotsky pointed out the horrors of bureaucratization and tyranny coming from the way the Soviets were headed, and no Communist rule since then has managed to solve the problem.

          So, the question is not have there been bad people in the (very small) sample set of Communists, but what do people say? They criticize Stalin, they criticize Mao, they criticize Castro — and, yes, Guevara.

          “For heaven’s sake, Dante literally had a special place in Hell for corrupt popes.”

          Indeed; of course, Innocent III was not among them, and to quote the Catholic Encyclopedia: ” Still they are worthy of memory and have contributed their share to the glory of his pontificate.” A quick check of Google about Innocent III will not show mixed feelings about him.

          “Guevara was an excellent communist.”

          Some communists would say so. Some would not. Similarly, I have struggled to find negative views of Innocent III.

          “Do you understand the point I’m making here at all?”

          I do — do you understand why it is more universally applicable than perhaps you were prepared to admit?

          As always — I am not saying the Left is perfect — far from it. I am saying that the Right and the Left (and all the other directions) are made up of people, and that dismissing one set categorically while whitewashing the other does no one any good.

          Many people who change the world, especially politically, have blood on their hands. We have to decide, in the long run, if the change was for good, or for ill, and learn from the mistakes they made — because everyone has made them.

        • John C Wright

          He can never tire of it. His self esteem would implode once he admitted what murderous scum he is defending, and what nonsensical ideas. The talking smothers his conscience.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “I was roundly criticized not that long ago for speaking admiringly of Socrates, Augustine and Pascal, particularly in comparison to him. He somehow got the impression I was speaking of them “worshipfully”. All I had said was that their intellect was pretty clearly superior to either of ours. If that is not a world without heroes, I don’t know what is.”

          That’s one person with inflated self-importance? Really — extrapolating one person’s attitude to an entire world’s is some…impressive stereotyping, to say the least.

        • Shawn Smith

          By the way, if you actually knew anything about Christianity at all, you would know that, as a rule, we don’t think our saints lived perfect lives. (Mary is an exception to this rule for some, but not all.) Many of the saints had very rough backgrounds before their conversion, and I’m quite sure that all of them would identify themselves as sinners desperately in need of God’s grace. Indeed, St. Paul, in one of the epistles included in the Bible calls himself the worst of sinners. Maybe you should, you know, actually learn something about such things before you smugly assert your superior intelligence.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Many of the saints had very rough backgrounds before their conversion, and I’m quite sure that all of them would identify themselves as sinners desperately in need of God’s grace.”

          Well, not to do so is to commit a terrible sin in your religion, so yes, they rather have to, don’t they?

          Fair enough, however — not “perfect” lives, but post-conversion? Lives above criticism. Will you accept that one?

          “Maybe you should, you know, actually learn something about such things before you smugly assert your superior intelligence.”

          Tell you what. I’ll work on it if you do, as well — since you repeatedly attempt to define the other side based upon *your* views, not theirs.

          (For example — in your list of Leftist “heroes”, you include a few whose personal lives (specifically) were not of the best. I wonder — I would prefer Mr. Clinton to Mr. Gingrich, for example, on that basis — and certainly in terms of the good he’s done for humanity. But if you asked a group of people on the Left who their heroes were, I suspect that Rousseau would not rank highly ;) — nor Sanger. If you want, I’m sure I can go back and find other right-wing “heroes” with personal-life issues — or other issues. All that proves is that they were human.)

          I mean, we can go into the sociopathy of Ayn Rand, if that’s the brand of conservatism you want — or how about the vitriolic religious bigotries of St. Thomas More and Martin Luther? It’s easy to pick apart other people’s heroes; all it proves is that they’re all human.

        • Shawn Smith

          Yes, holding unpleasant views is exactly morally equivalent to rape and to murdering hundreds of innocent people in the name of your ideology. Holy crap, leftists are terrible at moral equivalencies!

        • Steven Schwartz

          Considering that More used his position as an agent of state to order the execution and persecution of Protestants, and Luther’s ideological arguments were used — with Luther’s approval — as the grounding for the death of thousands, I’d say that you’re not in a position to argue much. After all, there’s no real question that the people who died as a result of Luther’s and More’s positions were people — as opposed to defining fetuses (presuming that you’re referring to Sanger here) as people.

          I’m sorry — I gave you more credit for knowing history than I ought, clearly.

          Which reminds me — I congratulate you on your becoming a feminist. Usually, when someone hasn’t been convicted of rape, people on the right tend to object to them being called “rapists” — yet you seem to have no problem doing so.

        • Shawn Smith

          The murders I was referring to are those of Che Guevara. I know you don’t consider unborn children human. Interestingly, that was also one of the justifications of American slavery: Of course we can own blacks; they’re not real people. Of course we can tear unborn infants limb from limb; they’re not people. It’s funny how many pro-abortion arguments have direct parallels to pro-slavery arguments.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “The murders I was referring to are those of Che Guevara.”

          I’m curious to know where you got that figure — unless, of course, it’s the standard “Executions we carry out after trials are legitimate, executions regimes we don’t like carry out after trials are murders” routine.

          “I know you don’t consider unborn children human.”

          This is a definitional battle in which neither of us will convince the other. Feel free to toss around your inflammatory rhetoric all you like; those who agree with you already will continue to do so; those who do not will continue not to do so.

        • Shawn Smith

          “To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary,” Che famously said. “These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail.” – Quoted from that article I linked

          So you’re telling me the executions overseen by that guy are just as legitimate as the U.S. government executing murderers? Of course, by your standard, I guess Iran executing gays simply for being gay is also fine.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “So you’re telling me the executions overseen by that guy are just as legitimate as the U.S. government executing murderers?”

          Some of them were just as legitimate as some the U.S. have done — since both resulted in the deaths of innocents. (Indeed, there’s a person many on the Right find heroic who said “This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution
          of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later
          able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent,”

          In other words, so long as the procedures are carried out, innocence is, in this man’s eyes, not a bar to execution.

          “Of course, by your standard, I guess Iran executing gays simply for being gay is also fine.”

          No, it is not. (Of course, I have never held up Che as a hero; I have merely asserted that he is not the monster Hitler was, oh ye who complains so often about false equivalencies.)

          Indeed, since I believe that orientation is not purely a matter of choice, it falls under the same distinction that I used to differentiate Che and Hitler, below — one desired to eliminate an entire class of people, one did not.

        • Shawn Smith

          Having a justice system that sometimes fails is morally comparable to having one man say, with no checks against him, who gets lined up against the wall and shot. Did I say our justice system was flawless? Perfect? That no mistakes are made? But ours is worlds better than this.

          And I still have yet to hear you explain, apart from scale, why Guevara is so different than Hitler. Oh wait, that’s right, because Guevara wasn’t motivated by racial ideology. I’m sure that the teenaged boys whose brains he personally splattered against the wall were very grateful that it wasn’t racism that was getting them killed, but communism.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “And I still have yet to hear you explain, apart from scale, why Guevara is so different than Hitler.”

          I told you — because Guevara didn’t believe the extermination of a portion of the human race was required for the world to be a good place. He went overboard — as I’ve said, *I* don’t consider him a hero, but I also don’t consider, say, Curtis LeMay a hero, given the way he was prepared to treat Cuba or the Soviet Union (speaking of going overboard — he was fortunately restrained by, well, a relatively left-wing government.)

          “I’m sure that the teenaged boys whose brains he personally splattered
          against the wall were very grateful that it wasn’t racism that was
          getting them killed, but communism.”

          And I’m sure that it was a tremendous comfort to people who died in Cambodia because of U.S. bombing to know that it was anti-communism that killed them, rather than racism.

          This gets us back to the whole “Ours are freedom fighters, yours are terrorists.” problem. After all, shall we lay the deaths of people at the hands of Contra death squads on the plate of Ronald Reagan?

        • Kirsten Edwards

          Mr. Schwartz, you’re missing the point. The point is that these saints were once men like you and I: their hearts hardened by resentment and envy, their habits self- (and other-) destructive, mired in vices tiny or great, to which they’ve become so innured as to be invisible (to themselves, if not the people in their lives who suffer with and from them.)

          And yet it happened: God replaced their heart of stone with a heart of flesh. They repented of the evils they did, the obvious ones and the little ones that bedeviled them in secret. They asked for help, and replaced resentment with gratitude, hatred with joy, and ugly habits with love. They were small men (no matter how much power they wielded among men), whose hearts “grew 10 times that day.” The more they allowed God to fill them up with love; the more love they poured out to their fellow men, the greater their hearts grew until they became saints.

          God wants all of us to be his saints: even me. Even you! Won’t you join us?

        • Steven Schwartz

          “And yet it happened: God replaced their heart of stone with a heart of flesh.”

          Here’s the thing — the only evidence we have of such a thing happening is from people who want us to believe. Certainly, many of the modern saints were no such thing — they were martyrs, and we have no reason to believe that they were any better than anyone else, save for their willingness to die (or risk dying) for their beliefs.

          I thank you for the invitation, but there are too many barriers for me — barriers of disbelief, barriers of confusion and failure to understand. The standard view of God has far too much to answer for, in my view, to accept, and the views I can accept so rarely find their presentation in the rest of the world.

          But thank you, again, for the invitation and the kind words.

        • Martel

          A great example is how they regard somebody like Jackie Robinson. Instead of emphasizing the respect due to a man who through strength of character overcame extreme injustice, they instead emphasize how he shouldn’t have gone through any of the stuff he suffered.

          Should Robinson have been treated like he was? Hell no. However, it’s a fact of life (always has been, always will be) that humanity needs heroes. There are always wrongs that need to be overcome. Thank God that men have come before me with the fortitude to do so.

          When somebody overcomes such a wrong, we can emphasize their heroism, how courage and character can defeat seemingly insurmountable obstacles, or we can try to frame them as a victim who suffered through injustice.

          Leftists may do the former (especially when they’re called on it), but they tend towards the latter.

          The point of Jackie Robinson’s story isn’t how rude the Philadelphia A’s treated him, the point is that he won. We frame victims as heroes only to find we’ve not enough heroes.

        • Fail Burton

          Another thing to take away from that is the fake argument social justice warriors make that a mere absence of gays, non-whites and women in the science-fiction field will turn them away, or a shirt a scientist, though there is no overt hostility whatsoever.

          Obviously Robinson and many other stories tell a different tale, one that isn’t a lie, like the hostility black college basketball players faced in the mid-’60s. If people want in they’ll come in. In short, SJWs are liars.

        • Martel

          When your raison d’etre depends on your life being nothing but one long perpetual hardship, it soon becomes difficult to tell the difference between actual hardship and annoyance.

          Moreover, we all face hardships and things we don’t like, hence their emphasis on various collectives. The racism faced by Samuel L. Jackson (and I’m sure there’s been some) is proof of how oppressed he is, but the hardships endured by an impoverished white kid raised by an alcoholic father who grew up to run a successful business count for nothing.

          For the grievances endured by Jackson are the kind of grievances that count, whereas if you’re a WHAM (white heterosexual able-bodied male) no pains you’ve suffered mean a damn thing to anybody.

          It would be one thing if they wanted everybody to adopt the same “poor me” mentality (destructive but at least consistent), but instead they want some of us to magnify every micro-aggression and others of us to suck it up regarding absolutely everything.

        • Shawn Smith

          Can you imagine how Jackie Robinson would react if someone suggested that wearing a colorful shirt was a real obstacle to him playing pro baseball?

        • Martel

          He’d call whoever said that a p$%#y, and he’d be right.

        • Fail Burton

          I don’t know but I’d guess the constant portrayal of black folks as craven cowards afraid to go into a convention of nerdish white people wouldn’t set well with him. I mean, black folks live in a frickin country with whites all over the place. Suddenly a Star Trek convention will turn them into shrinking violets? That’s BS the social justice warriors sell to justify their stupid crusades so they can pretend to be Freedom Riders in their living rooms. One idiot who’s actually a NYT best-seller with Penguin boycotts any convention panels with all whites or men. Can you imagine a black boxer boycotting a boxing card? SJWs are neurotic nut-cases.

      • http://www.brianniemeier.com/ Brian Niemeier

        Thank you, Mr. Wright, for this enlightening essay.
        I wish you, your family, and the families of your readers, a happy Thanksgiving.

      • Shawn Smith

        At the moment, I would merely like to add that I thank God for living in what is still one of the greatest countries on Earth, and I pray he gives us the wisdom and strength to repair all of the damage done in recent years.

      • Martel

        I’ve long described the right thinking among us as adherents to the Ethic of Gratitude, whereas our opponents thrive on the parasitic symbiosis between the Ethic of Entitlement and the Ethic of Guilt (the Ethic of Guilt being epitomized by this guy: http://pjmedia.com/eddriscoll/2014/11/25/student-mugged-says-he-deserved-it/ )

        You’ve described the Ethic of Entitlement perfectly, much better than my previous attempts thus far. Quite conveniently, you’ve done so right when I’m describing the victim mentality of feminists in the book I’m working on.

        I’m therefore grateful that I can quote you so as to better illuminate my larger thesis (with all due credit to come your way, of course).

        Happy Turkey Day! Er, I mean Thanksgiving.

      • Steven Schwartz

        I will address other parts of this essay later; first, I want to discuss a bit of textual manipulation and character assassination by Mr. Wright, one which calls into question either his scholarship or his honesty, and which lands squarely in my field as an SF/F writer, fan, and critic:

        “An example [of lack of gratitude to pioneers and forefathers] comes from my own field, science fiction. If you are unfamiliar with the name Robert Heinlein, he is rightly called the Dean of Science Fiction; his pen is the one that first broke through from the pulps into the slicks, and then into juveniles, and then into the mainstream. Were it not for him, we would still be a Hugo Gernsbeckian ghetto.”

        One can argue many of these points — but there is no disputing that Heinlein was a critical figure in the history of the genre.

        “Heinlein was also a bold advocate for equality of all races and both sexes, at a time when such ideas were not discussed in polite society.”

        The first part of this is true — but on the left, at the least ( a Left that Heinlein had spent much of his recent life in, as a side note) such things were *certainly* discussed in society.

        “The Left owe Heinlein an immense debt of gratitude. Ergo they are ungrateful.”

        Remember this sentence for later.

        “While working on the novel that was to become Rocket Ship Galileo, Heinlein warned his agent that the inclusion of an ethnically diverse cast was not only deliberate—it was non-negotiable, and if an editor requested the removal of the Jewish character, Blassingame (the agent) was to take the book elsewhere.”

        More power to him! I approve, and am glad of it.

        “Commenting on this is one Mitch Wagner, freak, writing on the blog maintained by Tor books — one of the largest and most well-respected names in science fiction publishing, as well as being my own publisher. This is not some overlooked corner or outlier opinion.”

        Let us notice, in passing, the tossing of an epithet in before any ideas are discussed, indeed, before we know anything at all. I suspect, somehow, Mr. Wright would object if someone quoted him with “Mr. Wright, crackpot” — that would be evidence of lack of rational thought, or some such.

        “Do you understand to what the freakish Mr. Wagner is objecting? He is objecting to the melting pot theory that men of different races, locked into endless mutual hatred in the old world, can leave their hatred behind here in the new world. He is objecting to racelessness. Hence, he is a racist.”

        To quote from a bit of the essay that Mr. Wright carefully omitted — indeed, the very sentences *after* the ones he quoted:

        “Because America isn’t a melting pot where everyone is the same as everyone else, it’s more like a stew. We work together, play together, and shop together, but we have different religions, and sometimes wear different clothing and speak different languages.”

        If that’s being racist, Mr. Wright, I hesitate to think what someone might be able to conjure up from selective editing of your posts. He does not use your preferred language — that makes him racist?

        But that’s not the worst of it, by a long shot:

        “I do not mean to be critical of either Charlie [Stross] or Heinlein here, because in fact it was admirable for Heinlein to insist on inclusion of a Jewish character in his book at a time when anti-Semitism was still commonplace. Also, a German-American a few years after the end of World War II. And Heinlein did it at a time when he was broke, and could have been forgiven for knuckling under to editors’ demands to whiten up the book.”

        The thrust of Mr. Wagner’s essay was that Heinlein was both ahead of his time, and not perfect; that he did good things, and bad things.

        “Heinlein showed backbone and gorm and ran the risk of being blackballed and put out of business by the Left (who, then as now, have major influence amounting to near total control in the New York publication industry) — and for this bold stance, unheard-of at the time, the gormless and freakish Mr Wagner criticizes Mr. Heinlein.”

        Go and read the essay Mr. Wright linked to — not just his particular carefully-edited selection. And see what you think. And consider how carefully Mr. Wright had to cut out what he did, to get what he had to get to rant against. I am sure if I carefully chose one paragraph from an essay of his, I could get *all sorts* of interesting conclusions — which he would claim, *rightly*, that the context does not support. As the context does not support here — especially for the kicker.

        Remember that bit about gratitude? Which, supposedly, the Left doesn’t express?
        Further in that same article:

        “As a Jewish American myself, I’m grateful to Heinlein for doing his part to tear down barriers.”

        That’s the so-called “freak” Mitch Wagner. Expressing gratitude to Heinlein, in an essay from which you carefully snipped two paragraphs, ignoring the fact that the essay as a whole *contradicted* your main point. Indeed, if this is your big example of how the Left is ungrateful, I’d say case pretty much closed — and not in your favor.

        Now, there are people on the Left who object to Heinlein. There are also people on the left who love and respect Heinlein, while acknowledging his flaws.

        You have said in the past, Mr. Wright, that the Left desires untruth. Well, our forebears and predecessors were people, with good things and bad things about them. And, acknowledging that is acknowledging a truth, whether you consider it “tearing them down” or not.

        “As a Jewish American myself, I’m grateful to Heinlein for doing his part to tear down barriers.”

        Read that again, Mr. Wright, and stop trying to claim gratitude as something only the Right feels.

        • MoReport

          Note well, readers: The longer winded the post (to be extended)
          the lower the probability that it contains any valid comment.

        • Steven Schwartz

          And yet your comment is proof that one can be both short and utterly invalid.

        • Kirsten Edwards

          Bwa-ha-ha! Guilty as charged.
          To be fair to Mr. Schwartz it takes much longer to write a shorter post than it does to write a longer one. And this is just a blog site, not anything terribly important.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I’m curious — do you think, in light of the quotes I provided, that Mr. Wright treated Mr. Wagner fairly?

        • Kirsten Edwards

          You wrote: “”Because America isn’t a melting pot where everyone is the same as everyone else, it’s more like a stew. We work together, play together, and shop together, but we have different religions, and sometimes wear different clothing and speak different languages.”

          Except that it is, or was. When was the last time you heard the phrase “white privilege.” Quite recently, yes? How about: “Kraut,” “Polack,” “wop,” “beat him like an ugly red-headed step-child,” or the like? They melted: Poles, Italians, and Irish (to name a few) and now they’re all equally privileged. And the parts of their unique cultural (the idea that race is what matters, is pretty darn racist, I’d think) heritage that somehow managed to appeal to Americans across the board: birthday parties, and St. Paddy’s day, and pizza, (and the like) became part and parcel of American culture, that all Americans can claim as their own, no matter what their ancestors looked like.

          The ones who came later, to the “benefit” of leftist ideas that we’re not all Americans together, well, they’re as you wrote: very different, and still very much alien. And not so privileged.

          So what matters to you? Do you want all Americans, no matter what their skin color, brain wiring, or religion to have successful and happy lives? If you do, why not look at what worked in the past, and speak, write, and vote for polices that are likely to have a similar effect. Or is it most important to be publically lauded for how much you care about having folks of some backgrounds (or racial makeup, or physiological happenstance) being successful?
          Because if you want the first, you need to side with the conservatives, and particularly the ones from universalist backgrounds, like Jews and Christians, for whom charity and good will aren’t limited to folks from their (and only their) tribe.

          If the latter, stick with the leftists. They do a terrific job at it, even if they have to throw, say, poor black school kids under the bus to achieve it. I wish they’d care more about results than ideology. We could easily be on the same side on so many social issues – and doing so much more for those who got sidelined from the American dream – if they would.

        • Steven Schwartz

          A little bit of history: the Italian migration into the U.S. on a large scale started *after* the Chinese one, and, of course, more than a century after the importation of African slaves into the U.S.

          And yet, funny that, one group has managed to “assimilate” better than the other two — might that have something to do with the fact that they were encompassed under the ever-broadening definition of “white” in a way that the others weren’t?

          (Seriously — look at the way “white” has expanded; the same sort of “OMG *those* people are coming to destroy our American way of life” rhetoric you now hear about people from Central America was repeated for the Irish, the Poles, the Italians — and let’s not even mention the Jews, who are only white-by-courtesy in parts of the country.)

          I’d think) heritage that somehow managed to appeal to Americans across
          the board: birthday parties, and St. Paddy’s day, and pizza, (and the
          like) became part and parcel of American culture, that all Americans can claim as their own, no matter what their ancestors looked like.”

          Of
          course, rock music, to pick an example, only became acceptable to
          American mainstream culture when white people started singing it, to
          pick an example totally at non-random. So there is rather a double standard there.

          “So what matters to you? Do you want all Americans, no matter what their
          skin color, brain wiring, or religion to have successful and happy
          lives?”

          Yes.

          “If you do, why not look at what worked in the past, and speak, write,
          and vote for polices that are likely to have a similar effect”

          I’d love to see good examples of what’s worked for the people who are currently on the outside — because it hasn’t been working for them longer than it has been working for other people.

          “I wish they’d care more about results than ideology.”

          Well, considering that the results tend to be *better* in the regards you mention in states in the U.S. that have been more regularly left-leaning than in states that have been regularly right-leaning, I’d say the two go hand in hand.

          “We could easily be on the same side on so many social issues – and doing
          so much more for those who got sidelined from the American dream – if
          they would.”

          Give me specifics, then — we might *be* on the same side on a lot of those issues. But the problem with going “Oh, let’s all be colorblind” *now* is that it is, to use the old metaphor, like letting some people start out on third base, and others two strikes down — and not acknowledging that, and the side effects of it, will perpetuate, rather than correct, for inequality and injustice.

          I want to thank you, BTW, for having a polite discussion — among other things, you & I can serve as a useful counterpoint to Mr. Wright’s apocalyptic binary thinking.

        • kingmcdee

          I’m not sure what you’re suggesting in this paragraph – (“Let’s all be colorblind *now*…). Are you suggesting that it’d be wrong to *start* treating people equally regardless of their race? Sure, they have been maltreated in the past. What do you suggest we do about it? We cannot go back in time, so to permanently dwell on the issue would not do anything except make us more and more bitter about things that cannot be changed. Yeah, it would be *better* to start the whole thing over, but we *can’t* do that. So what, exactly, are you suggesting we do?

        • Steven Schwartz

          “Are you suggesting that it’d be wrong to *start* treating people equally regardless of their race?”

          I’m suggesting that acknowledging that racism has existed, does still exist, and that people have advantages as a result of it in the past (and the present) is worth doing.

          The problem is that, as has been demonstrated over and over again, people are really *bad* at being “colorblind”, which is why we needed legislation about fair lending and the like.

          ” Yeah, it would be *better* to start the whole thing over, but we *can’t* do that. So what, exactly, are you suggesting we do?”

          Acknowledging that we’re still suffering from the problem, and working to try and fix it, is an excellent start. I’d much rather do it through people’s voluntary actions than any kind of legislation — but people are remarkably unwilling to take any voluntary actions. Suggest to many white people that they have benefited from racism — not that *they* are racist, merely that they have benefited — and they shut down; that is the typical reaction to the notion of “white privilege”.

          It’s a thorny problem — but I don’t think declaring “Oh, that’s over, we can all be colorblind under the law even though the playing field is massively unequal and some people’s minds still haven’t changed.” is the right solution.

          I do think that putting laws in place that will benefit *everyone* — like camera monitoring on police — that happen to especially fight specific problems — like the massive disparity in violence by police used against white and black suspects — is a good thing, for example.

          Similarly, a law mandating penalties for people who engage in discriminatory lending — one which doesn’t, in any way, handicap non-PoC — has proven to be a good thing.

          There are lots of things we can do to fight the ongoing symptoms, and hope that the cause continues to recede; I think it’s pretty obvious, for example, that the U.S. is less racist than it was 50 years ago. But that is not a great comfort to people who couldn’t get home loans in the neighborhood they wanted to live in back in the 1980s, or who are dead due to police violence.

          (Thank you, BTW, for the discussion — it’s always a pleasure to work towards an understanding.)

        • kingmcdee

          The thing is, though, laws against discriminatory lending are not implemented to rebalance the advantages that people have because of historic racism by their forefathers against the forefathers of others – they’re implemented in adherence to the notion that people should not be treated as morally or legally different because of accidental (in the Aristotelean sense of accidental: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_%28philosophy%29) property. The point, though, is that the laws you cite are examples not of historical sensitivity, but of adherence to the idea that we should be *colorblind*.

          And it seems that you are suggesting that people, having inherited the proceeds of their ancestors’ actions, thereby inherit their guilt. In other words, you seem (correct me if I’m wrong) to believe that the sins of the fathers are placed upon the sons. At the very least you seem to think that they should feel guilty about it and do *something*about it – but what? Surely the only completely satisfactory solution to, say, Indian Removal, would be to give the land back – but what about all of the Americans who live there now? Would they have to be expelled, or submit to a government they didn’t elect? There’s other knock-on effects, too – if the U.S. were to cede all of the land west of the Thirteen Colonies, it would be too weak to intervene in international politics, and thus any foreign despot with less scruples than us can impose his will without fear of American intervention. The “Pax Americana” would come to an end.

          Similarly, should we forcibly redistribute the wealth of all the people whose ancestors were cotton plantation owners? After all, that money is an advantage they have due to the money their parents made using slave labour – but does that mean that they don’t have any right to their own property? Trying to seriously think through the suggestions you propose leads to questions like this.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “The point, though, is that the laws you cite are examples not of historical sensitivity, but of adherence to the idea that we should be *colorblind*.”

          We seem to be talking past each other — because, as I said, the reason we need those laws is that people are really *bad* at being colorblind.

          “And it seems that you are suggesting that people, having inherited the proceeds of their ancestors’ actions, thereby inherit their guilt.”

          No; but what they do have is a position of unearned privilege, and understanding that can help them work towards being more colorblind, and more understanding of the ways in which colorblindness has failed to date.

          To pick an example: Studies show that white people in the U.S., in general, trust the police; black people do not. A large part of this is due to both historical and ongoing discrimination in how police handle things. If you’re aware of this, you’ll look differently at narratives about police brutality and the responses in the community. Or, for that matter, you might think twice about how you react on a jury hearing such a case, knowing that *your* view of the police is not that of everyone, and knowing that there’s a reason for that.

          Or let’s look at a different privilege: male privilege. Every time someone goes “What? What’s the big deal about pinups in the workplace? If people don’t want to see it, they don’t have to look”, they’re demonstrating that privilege, and being part of the problem, rather than the solution.

          “In other words, you seem (correct me if I’m wrong) to believe that the sins of the fathers are placed upon the sons. At the very least you seem to think that they should feel guilty about it and do *something*about it – but what?”

          No; I don’t think they should feel guilty — I would *hope* that people would want to do the right thing — and I’ve been trying to give you examples of what that could look like.

          “Trying to seriously think through the suggestions you propose leads to questions like this.”

          That’s because you’re looking to governmental solutions, and large-scale ones, when what’s being pointed out is an individual privilege, maintained by low-level social interactions. I recommend to your attention John Scalzi’s excellent essay on the subject, “Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is”

          The point is not to feel guilty, or tear the country to shreds to make up for the sins of the ancestors. The point is to figure out how, today, you can make the world a better place; to figure out and understand what other people are going through.

          Here’s an analogy I’ll toss out there, as a possible way to look at it, and discuss it — I am not wedded to this formulation, but it seems like something worth exploring.

          I think most people are agreed that disaster recovery funding is a good thing — if part of the country is hit with a natural disaster, most of the time people don’t squawk too hard at the idea that the rest of the country can help that part rebuild.

          We’ve had several man-made disasters in our history — why wouldn’t we want to help our fellow citizens rebuild from that? *Regardless* of guilt, all we are doing is helping our fellow Americans recover from something from which they are suffering that was not their fault.

          (As a side note: Another way to realize that white privilege and guilt should be disentangled is this: I have more than a few friends who are a) white and b) recent immigrants to this country. They are the beneficiaries of white privilege in their day-to-day interactions with police, etc., but have *no* reason to feel guilty about what has happened in the past. Acknowledging their privilege is not about guilt — it’s about reality.)

        • gingeroni

          I’ll just note that Wagner spent his first five paragraphs tearing Heinlein down for not being good enough and only the last two backtracking on how courageous he was for his time.

        • Steven Schwartz

          Well, considering that Heinlein is lionized — and we can see how roughly any negative comments are treated, based on Mr. Wright’s response — the case against requires a bit more data than the case for, don’t you think?

          I’m curious — do you think, in light of his many omissions, that Mr. Wright dealt with Mr. Wagner fairly?

      • Steven Schwartz

        Oh — and I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving, all here — we may disagree on many things, but our common humanity is, I hope, not one of them. Be well, be safe, and be happy.

        (And for any non-Americans here, my sympathies on the lack of a long weekend.)

      • Stephen J.

        The temptation is one common to most crusading or moral-advocacy mindsets: it’s the fear that to be grateful for what one has gained, or happy about what one has accomplished, is ipso facto to be contented with that situation; and contentment is feared to be the death of any noble struggle because it fears that to say, “This is to be applauded as good,” is tantamount to saying, “This is to be accepted as good enough.”

        It is certainly true that people grateful for their status quo do not tend to make very committed revolutionaries or crusaders. But people more interested in the moral credit of being revolutionaries than in winning (and thereby finishing) their revolution do have a marked tendency to find smaller and smaller excuses to keep deeming the status quo to still be unacceptable.

        • Steven Schwartz

          An interesting anaylsis — especially since it seems to mitigate against the kind of compromise that many people (I think) want to find, in which each side gets something, if not all of what they want.

          What’s the old line: “The perfect is the enemy of the good”?

          Of course, part of what makes people crusaders (for whatever cause) is their belief in its rightness, which does tend to make compromise seem a moral evil.

      • http://bastionofliberty.blogspot.com/ Francis W. Porretto

        The core of Leftism – properly, Marxism, though Leftists seldom cop to it – is the redefinition of freedom from the absence of coercion to the absence of unsatisfied desires. However, the technical term for the man with no unsatisfied desires whatsoever is corpse. Q.E.D.

        • Steven Schwartz

          ” is the redefinition of freedom from the absence of coercion to the absence of unsatisfied desires.”

          “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of
          God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal
          life.” — an example of that Marxist, I suppose, describing a freedom from an evil condition and the presence of coercion.

          Freedom from hunger is as valid a definition of “freedom” as “the freedom to speak”. They are both ways in which one is free. It’s not a “redefinition”, it’s an acknowledgement that both things are valid.

          I fear, therefore, your little logical demonstration fails.

        • http://bastionofliberty.blogspot.com/ Francis W. Porretto

          Moronic in the extreme. One is never permanently free from desire — and your choice of hunger is particularly asinine in this regard, for hunger returns in time.

          Political freedom can only be the absence of coercion by other persons or human institutions. There is no other meaning for it that holds water. Indeed, Man can only be free because nothing else can be. All else that we desire, whether transiently or persistently, is available only at a cost…even if the cost is that of reaching out for it, or drawing one’s next breath.

        • Steven Schwartz

          “One is never permanently free from desire”

          I see I’m going to have to be very explicit with you, since you don’t get implicit.

          The “hunger” in “freedom from hunger” is “the lack of sufficient food to keep one’s self fed.” There? Better?

          That sort of hunger does not “return in time.”

          “Political freedom can only be the absence of coercion by other persons or human institutions. There is no other meaning for it that holds water.”

          You do realize that coercion can come in many forms, don’t you? You appear to be limiting it to the “they come with guns and tell me what to do” variety, as opposed to, say, the “I need to eat and someone else has all the money” form of coercion. The whole idea of, for example, a minimum guaranteed income is to ensure that people have a modicum of freedom.

          “Indeed, Man can only be free because nothing else can be.”

          Here you’re conflating “free” as in “freedom” with “Free” as in “you don’t have to pay for it”. And yet you were complaining about people using two different meanings of a word when you began this particular comment thread.

          And why is “Man” free, then? You claim it as if it were self-evident, but it makes, in fact, no sense; it makes it seem that one is free … because one has to pay for things?

          “even if the cost is that of reaching out for it, or drawing one’s next breath.”

          Ah, I see. You’re expanding “free(lacking in cost)” to cover anything that exists at all, so as to make your little claim above make…well, it still doesn’t make any sense.

        • http://bastionofliberty.blogspot.com/ Francis W. Porretto

          There’s no point in my arguing with someone who changes the subject and keeps insisting on perverse interpretations for ordinary words and concepts. I’m done with you. Have a nice life.

        • Steven Schwartz

          You’re not Humpty Dumpty — I use perfectly standard definitions of words, just not the ones (apparently) you choose to; and I do not define “breathing” as a cost.

          But go well; I hope your life is a happy one.

        • http://bastionofliberty.blogspot.com/ Francis W. Porretto

          You are so full of it that it must be leaking out your eyeballs. You know quite well that I’ve been talking about political freedom: the right to be left alone in the peaceful enjoyment of what’s honestly yours. A man cannot claim any rights that others cannot simultaneously claim without generating a contradiction. If a man has a “right” to be free from hunger, then other men have the obligation to feed him. So your nonsense about “freedom from hunger” implies the mutual enslavement of all the human beings on Earth That would apply with equal force to any other “freedom” that amounts to a positive claim on others, or on something one is unwilling or unable to provide to oneself.

          Desires are not rights.
          Needs are not rights;
          Wishful thinking does not create rights.
          And you, my dear fellow, are revealed as a Communist troll.

        • Steven Schwartz

          ” You know quite well that I’ve been talking about political freedom: the right to be left alone in the peaceful enjoyment of what’s honestly yours.”

          I know quite well that that is how you would like to define “political freedom”. That doesn’t mean you get to define the term, however.

          And, indeed, hidden in your definition are lots of assumptions about what is and is not a political question.

          But we’ll start with the central point — why does your ownership right trump other people’s right to exist? For that is, effectively, what you are stating here; that property rights trump human rights. (And that property rights are the only “political” rights.)

          Because nothing in your definition of “freedom” covers anything but property rights.

          (For example: There is nothing in your model of political freedom that prevents someone from, say, buying a monopoly of the media, and thereby gutting the effective use of the “freedom of speech”.)

          “Desires are not rights.
          Needs are not rights;
          Wishful thinking does not create rights.
          And you, my dear fellow, are revealed as a Communist troll.”

          And your wishful thinking that somehow, signing a piece of paper or paying someone some money to guarantee that you own something ,and are free to do with it what you want, doesn’t generate rights either.

          Insofar as rights are generated, they’re generated by a social consensus; one which at the moment swings to neither your extreme nor mine. ;)

          And no — I’m not a Communist, unless you’re defining that term so broadly as to make it useless. As to “troll”, well, your mileage may vary; I always used the definition of people who were there to argue to rile the others up; I am arguing because I feel your points (and many of the original poster’s) are incorrect and, in some cases, actively damaging.

        • Shawn Smith

          Are you genuinely claiming that needing to have a job in order to provide for oneself is comparable to the oppression of a police state? Wow. That’s…bizarre.

        • Steven Schwartz

          I’m saying that “freedom from hunger” is a form of freedom, just as “freedom from coercion” is a form of freedom. They are not identical, but trying to write one off as “not a form of freedom” is not valid.

      • Mark L

        Why does everyone think Rod Walker (Tunnel in the Sky) was black? Because the woman in the book he paired off with and will probably marry was black? (She is definitely described as black. I always pictured Rod as white, which meant Heinlein went even further that if Walker were black. Heinlein was describing a interracial relationship (in the 1950s in a juvenile) as if it were an everyday thing. (Which in context of the society described it was.) I though that was even cooler than having a black male protagonist.

        • akatsukami

          Heinlein stated in a letter that Rod was black, although that can be seen as a retcon. In the book, when Rod is talking to Caroline (can’t recall her surname), his love interest, about his sister, he says, “She looks a bit like you”. Since Caroline is a Zulu, this is taken to imply that Rod’s sister, and hence Rod himself, is black.

      • Rick Caird

        There is nothing in this essay to disagree with. There is a class of people, mostly on the left, but some on the right, who define themselves as “victims” and so look for opportunities to declare their “victim hood”.

        It really must be a miserable life. A self identified, serial victim can never be happy unless they can point to a “victimizer”. But, it is merely a temporary fix. Another victimizer must be found. This is all pretty much addictive behavior.

        I can’t imagine being friends with such people unless I have a desire to be a serial victim, too. They must be fairly lonely people.

        • BCS

          As opposed to the fundamentalist conservative Christians in America that claim “persecution” when they don’t get to spend my tax $$$ on evangelism?

        • Rick Caird

          Suddenly felt the urge to reply 2 months later?

      • Danba7

        My two favorite authors, Rand and Heinlein. So much can be learned from these two. Anyone that desires an education should study everything both of these have written. The non-fiction of Rand is amazing. Truth is stranger than fiction. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you wanted to. Look at what kind of monsters are running America. Observe the whining every night on talking head shows. If you have the stomach for it. Thank you for an excellent article Sir. I may even buy one of your books to see what it is about.

      • LouAnnWatson

        i have to say that this is possibly the best article i have read this year…and thank you for adding “gormless’ to my vocabulary list!

      • curmudgeoninchief

        Having read Tunnel In the Sky over a dozen times, I can recall no explicit or implicit identification of Rod Walker, Last Mayor of Cowpertown, as black. If you think about it, of all the characters in Heinlein’s “juvenile” novels who could be black, Rod is the most likely. But RAH never says one way or the other; from his recent biography, it appears that this was intentional.

        That having been said, Social Justice Warriors like Mr. Wagner cannot be appeased, and it wastes everybody’s time to try. Mr. Wright needs to Move On, and spend his time more profitably by reading the remaining oeuvre of science fiction authors not imprisoned by their publishers.

      • Edward Teach

        2 Timothy 3: 1-5

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