February 1, 2017
It doesn't have so much to do with writing. The previous post to the Webmansion Writers Blog has to do with being a writer. It also has to do with being a performer, artist, student, teacher, lecturer, or anyone else who holds social, political, or economic views different from those in control of that person's means of advancing or making a living. During the campaigns, I caught someone on camera attempting to steal my Trump sign that I had cleverly cemented into the ground. I put the pictures up on Facebook because I thought all of my "pals" would get a kick out of it.
The reactions were predictable, although I didn't see them coming. You see, most of the writers, publishers, artists, producers, college teachers, and book publishers I know consider themselves either "liberal" or "progressive," to use the more current term. Ask them about being open and affirming, advocating diversity, and freedom of thought, speech, and press, and they are all for them. Then it became known that I had a Trump sign on my property. The issue wasn't the thief who attempted to abrogate my freedom of speech, or the more amusing likelihood he dislocated his shoulder in attempting to do so as the vehicle in which he was riding took off. The overwhelming issue was, "What was a Trump sign doing on Barry's property?" That was fine, as far as it went. As I responded, "To catch the big ones you need to use great bait."
Then began a rash of comments linking Trump to racism, misogynism (I'm making that a word), Islamophobia, the Nazi party(!), disregard and destruction of the environment, an enemy of educating America's youth, and the end to life as we know it. By association, I was linked to these things, as well. Well, exercising a flaw I share with former President Obama, I attempted to state the facts and the conclusions I had drawn from them. Obviously my mistake had been an error in messaging. I posted what I thought was a reasonable take-a-breath and calm-down message.
Suddenly men and women I have known for years, and in some cases decades, are running around in the sandbox, waving their tiny plastic shovels, and screaming with their hair on fire. The sentiments were often insulting, hurtful, usually senseless, and they keep coming. Some of those comments were coming from fans of mine as well as former writing students of mine, so I patched up my Obama flaw again and posted "A Few Notes On Voting Trump" in this blog on writing.
Okay, all of the above is free speech, and freedom to react to speech with more speech. But writers, artists, actors, news writers and deliverers, screenwriters, college instructors, students all across America who hold either conservative or libertarian views have been held back and often frozen out of their occupations by those same persons who laud attitudes of openness, diversity, and freedom of expression. I won't burden you with all the examples I know of. Just a taste: How many conservative speakers have you seen on the news who have been turned away by either college faculties or thuggish student demonstrations at publically funded institutions where freedom of expression, and protecting that right, is law? If you are an actor in Hollywood and have conservative or libertarian leanings, you keep your mouth shut or parrot the party line, or you simply don't work. Conservative college instructors who got tenure? Hello. Your meeting is in the off-campus phone booth near the meat packing plant. Conservative students who insist on being vocal about it getting scholarships or accepted at certain institutions, or maintaining their positions on student publications? Lots of luck.
In my own little case, I have had manuscripts turned down for libertarian political content. I have had editors post with me or with my agent "Don't bother sending Longyear's shit here" notices, due to political differences with some of my tales. I haven't sold a novel manuscript to a recognized major publisher since 1998. If my agent didn't have other clients he'd be on food stamps.
Fortunately, we live in technologically enlightened times. Just as social media and cable news outlets have made it possible for modern celebrities and politicians to get around the censorship, slant, and choke points of traditional news venues, modern book publishing technology has made it possible for the individual writer to get around traditional publishing prejudices and reach the reading marketplace. The many dozens of my readers in my tasteful and highly select audience can get my more current works through Enchanteds, our own publishing imprint made possible by Amazon's Kindle and CreateSpace publishing platforms, and the Authors Guild Backinprint program. I do not reach the millions of readers available though big publishing marketing, but the economics of small publishing these days is such that my brilliant, discriminating platoon of readers are sufficient to keep coffee in my pot, pork chops on the table, and me writing and publishing more stories.
My current work, The War Whisperer, is something I have been working on, in fits and starts, since 1963. Through the eyes of an abandoned boy who was literally born into government service, we see through his trials and adventures what the world is, what's wrong, and the implementation of a way to harness human dreams and potential toward achieving those things that today have almost become meaningless as words: freedom, achievement, prosperity, fulfillment. It is a blatantly libertarian science-fiction epic. This work is currently under construction as seven books. The way I write, I need to have the last one written and all of the others subsequently rewritten before I can allow any of them out of the shop. It is a great story, an important story, and it is being written by me. Those who like my stuff will like how this is written. Those who don't like my stuff, put in an Amazon search for someone whose writing you do like. The point is, unless there are some major shifts in attitudes, personnel, or ownership of major publishing houses in the next few months, you are never going to see The War Whisperer coming from any of the big traditional publishers.
I am not the only author the publishing establishment chose to repress. I'd love to list a few names of conservatives writing with words dressed in progressive verbiage, but the guys currently doing it need to make a living. Today it is much like during the days of the House Un-American Activities Committee back in the Nineteen Fifties when actors and writers who were Communist Party members, or who just attended a meeting or lecture, were frozen out of Hollywood, publishing, and performing. You don't have to be very old to remember history and the Nazis firing university professors who were Jewish or otherwise did not follow the party line. The same thing in Soviet Russia after the revolution. If you weren't Red, you were economically dead.
And just as sure as eggs is eggs, those same anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-libertarian folks condemning me and the American electorate will see no parallels between the "spontaneous" demonstrations against Trump, and most recently against his pick for the Supreme Court, and the "spontaneous" Sturmabteilung (Storm Detachment, aka "brown shirt") demonstrations in the Nineteen Twenties and Thirties designed to disrupt Adolph Hitler's opponents and repress intellectuals, Jews, Gypsies, unionists, etc., etc. Well, yeah, many of the current crop of protestors are paid to burn buildings, attack people, riot to cut off free expression, slander, vandalize, and inconvenience everyone, but they don't march in step and don't wear brown shirts—most of them. And when you think about it, Trump voters deserve it, don't they? Just like back in Berlin with those dirty commies and Jews . . . Uh, who were supposed to be the Nazis again?
So, it all has to do with being writers and that pesky old First Amendment. If you write, and if what is important to you is what you write about, then the First Amendment is your protection against the brown shirts, the paisley shirts, and the paid agitators, but only if it is enforced. Whoever gets shouted down or frozen out is important, no matter who is choking off the words nor who is getting choked. It was the anti-communists choking off the lefties back in the 'Fifties, and the lefties choking off the conservatives and libertarians up until recently. Doesn't matter whether you think someone deserves to be unheard, confined, punished, and unpaid, the loss of that person's freedom to use words is everyone's loss.
Interesting dilemma coming up in New England, 6:30 PM, February 5th, on Fox, however. Except for a stretch in Northern Maine (where I live), New England is Hillary country. Boo, Trump! It is also the Red Sox nation, and you can be denied medical help if you are rooting for any team other than the Patriots in this year's Super Bowl. However, Patriot's quarterback Tom Brady voted for Donald Trump and has yet to repent. This means that Brady supports Nazi, misogynist, racist, Islamophobic, baby-seal beating, puppy-shooting Donald Trump, which makes, by association, Tom Brady a Nazi, misogynist, etc., etc., etc. What will the Pat's fans do? I'm not sure, but if you hear Patriots fans singing the "Horst Wessel" song instead of the National Anthem, don't be entirely surprised.
January 30, 2017
First Donald Trump is the President of the United States and president of the American people, fair and square. Reject him as you might, by law he is the president. Email scandals and FBI plots notwithstanding, the election came down to winning the Electoral College, which came down to majorities of voters in a sufficient number of states voting for a particular candidate's electors. Rail against it as you will, those are the current rules. To change the system you need to change the Constitution to eliminate the voices of smaller and more lightly populated states. Incidentally, this would also eliminate the justification for those states to remain within the union of states, which would probably cause more problems than it would cure.
Donald Trump is the president, and rejecting him, calling him names, looting stores, setting fires, holding cry-ins, waving signs, breaking windows, having hissy fits, and otherwise making noise is probably not going to get him to resign.
HE IS NOT:
Politically and economically Donald Trump is not an ideologue. He is not conservative, he is not liberal (under whatever label), he is not libertarian (which I am). By the same token, he is not a fascist (or Nazi), socialist, monarchist, plutocrat, survivalist, or religious communist. For most of his adult life Trump was a registered Democrat (does anyone remember Hillary Clinton used to be a Republican? I digress.) Trump is now a registered Republican. In neither case were ultimate political forms and ideological goals a consideration. In each case his party registration was a means to an end.
To do big business in New York City, you register Democrat, kiss Democrat ass, support Democrat candidates, and schmooze Democrat politicians in order to make deals, get your permits and tax breaks, none of which makes one ideologically liberal or "progressive." To make his deal with an abused and neglected voting public and be elected president in 2016, he needed to register as a Republican, which didn't infuse him with conservatism, laissez-faire capitalism, or "family values." It got him the pulpit he needed, and then the presidency—that's all.
Donald Trump is a man of business who is good at working with and through a needlessly complex and corrupt interventionist economy toward achieving his business goals. He has spent most of his adult life dealing with crooked politicians, mobsters, petty bureaucrats, unions, contractors, and persons in business of every possible moral stripe—and succeeding.
He doesn't know everything, but he knows that he doesn't know and does know how and where to get those who do know what's needed to get the things he wants done and how to get them to work for him. Now he has placed those skills, he says, in service to all the American people toward meeting what he perceives to be their most pressing economic needs: Good paying jobs, profitable businesses, restoring the nation's manufacturing base, bringing down costs of things such as health care, energy, food, and taxes all toward a goal of increasing everyone's prosperity.
In addition, to be able to enjoy the benefits of this prosperity, as I believe he sees it, the American people need to be safe from crime, violence, and attack from local and foreign sources. Toward those ends he's going to try a few things: The wall, limiting immigration to legal immigration, returning criminal illegals from whence they came, encouraging foreign students educated here to remain legally, supporting police organizations in bringing safety back to the nation's city streets, restoring the US's military, putting the US's military alliances on a more realistic and effective basis, forming new alliances, and a bunch of things that we just don't know about yet because I think he understands that if the bad guys know what they know, and they also know what we know, the bad guys have the advantage.
HE IS NOT:
I do not believe Donald Trump is a racist. The friends, associates, and even enemies who know Trump the best say he isn't. His hiring practices would also seem to indicate he isn't. The Wall is not racist. First, neither Mexicans nor South Americans constitute a "race." The issue with the wall is legal entry versus illegal entry, not race. "Extreme vetting" is not racist, nor is it anti-Muslim. First, Islam is not a race, it is a belief system divided into several sub-beliefs. For those who believe in races among the human race, all of those so-called "races" have Muslim members and non-Muslim members. The vetting of travelers from countries involved with a significant degree of terrorist activity includes both Muslims and non-Muslims. The issue is safe versus possibly dangerous, not race or religion.
I do not believe Donald Trump is a misogynist ("woman hater" for those who are dictionary adverse). Women hating bosses do not promote women into high-paying executive positions at equal pay with men. And you can't fake family. I love listening to interviews with his family members, particularly with the female members. Either they do not feel hated or the Oscars are going to the wrong people.
So, what about the Billy Bush open mike thing? Trump is seventy. That means, like me, he is a sexually repressed child of the 'Fifties and 'Sixties. He is also a military school graduate. That means, like me, he spent a good portion of his school years as a boiling cauldron of testosterone in an all-boys institution. It is fertile ground for a certain kind of crude humor. You should have heard what the cadets at my school did with copulative verbs in English III. Answer this question honestly: Has there ever been a joke or comment you have made in the past that would make you uncomfortable should it become viral now? Any joke or comment at all? Honestly, now.
Naw, he's not a Nazi and he's not anti-Semitic. Ask Benjamin Netanyahu or Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner.
And it's his own hair, probably colored.
The Donald tweets. He can be crude. He makes jokes. He doesn't have much toleration for whiners. Sometimes he operates his mouth before fully engaging his brain. When attacked he fights back, which is not altogether bad for a US president in these times. He says what's on his mind at the moment, which can be scary, but it is also the thing that endeared him to millions of voters fed up with political correctness, public versus private personas, and political word parsing.
I have big concerns about the future of the Trump presidency: Deficit spending, no plans yet to slow down the printing presses in the Treasury Department, weighting the economy down with spending programs before lifting the taxes and regulations holding down the prosperity that could generate the revenues to pay for the spending, what appears to be a very old and failed approach to dealing with addiction, and Arnold Schwarzenegger taking over The Apprentice.
Concerns, but the alternative for me was Hillary Clinton whose main accomplishments since the 'Nineties was to make herself wealthy by being a liberal and labeling all those who disagreed with her as "deplorables." Her main campaign promise to America was to continue the life, pride, prosperity, and energy sapping policies and performance of the previous administration. I certainly knew what I would be getting if Clinton became president and I didn't want it. I still don't know what we've got now with Donald Trump, but I'm eager to find out. To find out, those who are currently shouting need to dial down the noise and listen, if for no other reason than to gather facts and construct a coherent argument.
For the first time in decades I'm not convinced the dream that was America is lost. Neither am I convinced that it is found. At bare minimums, though, it's going to get rebuilt, remodeled, refinanced, and new bathroom fixtures.
From The Word Forge
Progress report on Barry's work in progress.
What About This Blog?
For writers & readers. For writers, this is stuff I've learned, am in the process of discovering, and stuff that is imparted to me by other writers. For readers, I believe the more one knows about what goes into the writing of a story, and into the life of being a writer, the more one appreciates an author's writings.
This is a two-way blog. Your comments on the blogs are welcome, as are your questions. Comments on blogs can be made directly on each blog entry. For questions and comments not related to specific blogs, use the eMail link below.
Send your writing & reading related comments and questions
Barry B. Longyear is the first writer to win the Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer all in the same year. In addition to his acclaimed Enemy Mine Series, his works include the Circus World and Infinity Hold series, Sea of Glass, other SF & fantasy novels, recovery and writing instruction works, and numerous short stories.