The Fault In Others

Recently, a bit of news has been flying around with some of my friends on social media. It seems a fairly unknown science fiction and fantasy author is making the case that J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” books are racist.

Now, not to get into science fiction and fantasy author politics, but this bothers me.

Why? Because it’s another example of our culture’s deep desire to find the fault in others.

The author in question is named Andy Duncan, and honestly, I’ve never heard of the guy before now. But he’s making a name by tackling one of the greats of the genre he professes to love and he’s doing it by gleaning whatever he can from the text, filtering it through modern thinking, and attributing those motivations to an author who has been dead for 45 years.

That means he almost had to be actively looking for something to get offended over.

Then again, that’s the norm these days. That’s what people do. They wait for you to say something offensive, then they blast you for it. They attack you and label you every kind of hateful name they can think of, usually while saying you’re the hateful one, then wonder why you no longer associate with anyone but your own political tribe.

That’s not a good thing for anyone. However, it’s the natural response to being attacked for saying offensive things when you used terms or phrases that are as innocuous as drinking milk, for crying out loud.

I can come up with a ton of examples, and I’ll be honest. Most will be directed at my ideological allies. Those who disagree with my politics can probably counter with a ton of examples of their own.

I’m not here to argue that. I don’t honestly care who started it, who does it more, or any of that nonsense. I’m not the world’s parent and you’re not all children who need to explain how it’s not really your fault.

I.

Don’t.

Care.

What I do care about, however, is how this nonsense needs to come to an abrupt halt. It needs to end because it’s not accomplishing anything.

Was J.R.R. Tolkien referring to blacks or Jews or Asians when he wrote about orcs? Of course not, but even if he was, what difference does it make now? The man has been dead for 45 years (I remember because he died on the exact same day I was born). It makes little to no difference if he was.

But, again, he wasn’t.

Yet Duncan needed to find something to be offended by. He needed to be worked up about something, to grab hold of someone greater than himself and to pry his claws into that individual.

But it in the end, it’s a sad, pathetic person who does such a thing.

It’s someone who can’t make a name on their own. They can’t inspire anyone and instead have to try and set themselves up as a rallying point for other pathetic people who desperately need to be outraged.

As bad as it is, though, at least Duncan was smart enough to attack a man who can’t defend himself. Cowardly, to be sure, but smart. Tolkien isn’t going to come back from the grave to crush Duncan’s career, such as it is. He’s not going to call in favors and annihilate Duncan’s opportunities as an author or get him disinvited from science fiction/fantasy conventions as has happened to some people I know.

None of that will happen and Duncan knows it.

But a lot of people prefer targets who are still breathing. They go after good people who just happen to disagree with them. They do everything they can to vilify those people and make them out to be monsters.

Oh, the stories I could tell of that happening, and to friends of mine. Not some random person you may have heard of, but to real, flesh-and-blood people I know and talk with.

I think we can all start to see why this is a problem.

But if it’s a problem, what’s the solution?

Frankly, I’m inclined to just desk the SOBs on general principle. Unfortunately, we live in a world with rules. Those rules say you can’t do things like that except in self-defense.

So, with that in mind, I say to just be a barbarian. Just be someone who approaches the world with the idea that they could have their skull split open for crossing the line, but to demand to be treated the same. Be someone who is ready to go to war when that line is crossed, just to remind people that you’re polite, you’re not a doormat.

Let them start it. Let them lose their minds because you respectfully disagreed with them. Let them go nuts in front of everyone and blast you as ever horrible thing ever imagined by God or man. Let them.

Then remind them, calmly remind them that you’re being respectful and you expect them to do the same.

However, the moment they make an aggressive act, you put them down. Hard.

But you never lose your temper. You’re not the aggressor, but you’re more than willing to respond with violence.

Maybe if some folks had to actually defend their constant offense at everything with more than just accusations of…whatever, then maybe they’d stop being so offended all the time. At the very least, they’d have to learn to articulate their offense with more than just insults.

A guy can dream, at the very least.

Kind of like how I dream of J.R.R. Tolkien going barbarian on Andy Duncan, now that I think about it.

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