Thursday, July 15, 2010

Card is not even subtle in his support of Conservative ideology

Card is not even subtle in his support of Conservative ideology
Okay. So I'm reading Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card and I am constantly oscillating between really enjoying the plot and being totally pissed-off at Card's obvious political biases in the telling of his story.

First of all, Fox News is the brave network whose reports most accurately reflect reality, in his ridiculously rendered political landscape. Hopefully, I needn't spend any time explaining how silly (more likely insulting to the reader's intelligence) this idea is. Bashing on the media is unsurprising (And there are some really good criticisms to be made about the media's failure to properly educate the public; privatized media will never do anything as boring as explain complicated sociopolitical and socio-economic realities; although there is room for misinformation and wild supposition; hence the success of Beck's pseudo-educational talk-show); However, elevating Fox as bastion of truth in his story is so wantonly irresponsible it makes me sick to my stomach.

Then, when a massive plague of airborne Ebola starts eradicating 50% of Africa the response from the Christian Right is to send Aid, while the Left idly sits by and accepts the deaths of entire continent. As much as I'd like to think that Christian sentiments of charity ruled the right, their track record has left much to be desired. Not that the Left is perfect, but when you think of epidemics in Africa you don't need to look to far for examples of how the political ideologies will align themselves on the issue - AIDS.

The AIDS epidemic is one of the most politicized natural developments I could imagine. Both sides rushed in with their own solutions to try to prevent and treat the disease. However, if anyone didn't give a hoot about people dyeing from AIDS it was fundamentalist Christians in the US who saw HIV as the 'gay disease,' The manifestation of God's wrath against sinners - sodomists, fornicators and adulterers caught AIDS, not good Christians, as per Jerry Falwell.

Fortunately thanks to the efforts of doctors, educators and community organizers - predominantly people who might be called those with a Leftist agenda - we now understand that anybody can fall subject to HIV and that transmission occurs largely intravenously through needles. One would look very stupid indeed to suggest that we should not assist African nations in slowing the spread of the virus.

To reiterate; while I applaud the idea in Card's book that the predominantly Christian Right would rush to the aid of African nations in case of an epidemic, because it is - ultimately - the Christ-like thing to do; I find it appalling that the Left is portrayed as a bunch of apathetic sociopaths who would let African people rot; when in reality the Left has a track record of reacting more quickly and with greater empathy to epidemics in Africa than the Right does.

So ya, Card's understanding of American politics is bonkers. This book is billed as being an allegory of the dangers of political extremism, but Card so obviously favors the Right in such an unbelievable and silly way that he completely undermines his credibility in political moderation. I'm afraid Card is wearing the same political blinders that he is supposed be subverting with this book. A blind man isn't going to be much help leading another blind man. I liked Card's science fiction better when he kept his writing a healthy distance away from contemporary society. He's obviously better at creating imaginary universes than representing our current reality.


  1. First, you're a phenomenal writer, Zach. This was a pleasure to read.

    I actually disagree with you somewhat about Africa, though. In what ways has the Left been more responsive to the plight of Africa? Save Darfur t-shirts? It seems the Left (and the Right, for that matter) is already complicit in letting Africa rot.

    Don't get me wrong. I think Card is a total crank on political matters. But I don't think it's totally outlandish for him to suggest that the Right would be quicker to respond to an African crisis than the Left. For one, conservatives (especially religious conservatives) donate considerably more to charity than liberals do. And second, the Bush administration (and you know I'm generally loathe to sing their praises) allocated an unprecedented amount of money to Africa to curb and combat AIDS.

    And while I agree that the Religious Right saw AIDS as a gay disease back in the '80s and '90s, the disease at issue in Africa in Card's book isn't AIDS and would carry the stigma that AIDS did. So you can't use conservative apathy towards the AIDS epidemic as evidence of their apathy towards other epidemics.

  2. I think you're correct in asserting that both Liberals and Conservatives have a pretty bad track record in not delivering assistance to most African nations when it has been needed. (As another aside it also bugs me in cards book that Africa is uniformly an awful, god-forsaken place which ignores the fact that there are many areas in Africa which are really quite stable politically and pleasant to live.)

    You're also winning that Bush was one of the best Presidents for Africa ever - however its not something that I often hear Conservatives touting, usually its the Liberals who will give Bush some conciliatory Kudos for this. Furthermore, I don't think you're going to win that aid to Africa is an area consistently pushed by Conservatives and their politicians. Finally, in the book everyone is happy with dropping aid into the quarantined continent, so government aid is not necessarily the main conflict - rather the conflict is over direct assistance in the forms of boots on the ground which goes against the governments quarantine of the African continent.

    Now, You are winning that christian conservatives - hopefully a great many - would be interested in going to Africa and helping people in the case of a massive epidemic. However, I find it insulting that it is only Christian Conservatives that are advocating this policy. Card clues us in to the fact that its a conservative thing - and not just a Christian thing - by having Fox News as the only compassionate network willing to fairly air and discuss the wholly Christian demonstrators. I feel strongly that both secular and non-secular Democrats should be represented among the compassionate protectors seeking to bring further aid to Africa. Liberals are probably more likely to be rallying outside the Whitehouse to protest a cruel international policy. Honestly, when have conservatives ever rallied to protest against any US foreign policy? High levels of state security (which in the book is the President's justification for the quarantine that prevents direct assistance) is not something that you typically hear conservatives railing against.

    Furthermore, while conservatives do donate more money to charities the strongest correlation for charitable donations isn't along the conservative liberal access - instead it's along the lines of religious, non-religious.

    So more charitable donations by conservatives really translates to more church donations. Now, while churches do a lot of good things in the world, concern for sick and dying people is not necessarily the reason people donate - motives such as feelings of piety and social status in the church community probably figure more prominently.

    So ya, I still think it's lame for Card to make-out the Left to be so completely apathetic in the face of a cruel international policy toward the continent of Africa. I know Chomsky would be against it - and all us psuedo-intellectual lefties are gonna follow what Chomsky writes.