Updating the 16th Century

Friday, November 25, 2005
I'm reading an Andrew Greeley mystery, starring Bishop Blackie. I'm not a Catholic and Greeley is a flaming leftist with right-wing and evangelical stereotypes peppered all through this book. But, for some reason, I've enjoyed his books anyway.

But something struck me last night as I read my two nightly pre-falling asleep pages. It was revealed about three quarters through the book, that certain accusations made by the supposedly murdered XO of an aircraft carrier had all been made against blacks. Oops. Against African-Americans on the ship. But nobody had told the Bishop, who was investigating the murder, because nobody dared mention it. Because it might lead people to think there was a racial element in the problems besetting the ship.

Because there was no open discussion, the African-Americans on the ship were sure that whites believed there was an African-American rapist running loose and the Black women so resented what they believed the whites believed that they went inside themselves and wouldn't speak to anyone. And the whites were so afraid of offending anyone that they wouldn't discuss it either and resented the fact that they felt resentment from the African-Americans.

You see where this is leading, right? No open discussion therefore simmering resentments. Political Correctness is unhealthy. And what frightened me was how easily our society has accepted PC. Will we ever escape?

Then, today, one of the first articles I noticed was from the Times of London:

Marlowe's Koran-burning hero is censored to avoid Muslim anger

Simon Reade, artistic director of the Bristol Old Vic, said that if they had not altered the original it “would have unnecessarily raised the hackles of a significant proportion of one of the world’s great religions”.
...
The play needed to be seen in a 21stcentury context, he believed.


I don't mean we should go out and intentionally offend Islam, but rewriting a play is another matter entirely. Let's supress all offense and discourage discussion. That way we can feed resentments on all sides. Way to go, fellas.

When I hear about incidents such as these a normal reaction might be that muslims are too easily offended and, on the other hand, muslims would feel resentment because they know that non-muslims believe they are too easily offended. And so it goes. Resentments piled on resentments about the Other. And we're left with all non-muslims vs all muslims and bad feelings all around.

It's just not healthy.

12 comments:

richard mcenroe said...

And yet strangely, I have no doubt these same people would have no trouble at all producing an unexpurgated version of Marlowe's The Jew of Malta...

Syl said...

Richard

So what? We are free to point that out.

I say let everyone speak. We can then sort the bigots from everyone else.

We can sort the 'too easily offended' from the rest as well.

It's the self-censorship that follows examples like this that is the danger.

terrye said...

I have noticed that a lot of young people have no patience with political correctness.

I wonder why.

It has gotten to the point where it is just banal.

chuck said...

No open discussion therefore simmering resentments.

I think this is one of the major reasons that the liberated socialist countries of Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR seemed so socially backwards and undeveloped. Look at places like Turkmenistan, can you believe that it was once part of an "advanced" society? Europe itself now suffers from this disease and if the lid ever pops off I suspect we will discover just how primitive social relations have become in that part of the world.

truepeers said...

Yes it's not healthy, besides being stupid, antihistorical, etc.

We're all humanly resentful to some degree, which is the cause of all our problems; accordingly our goal in life should be to mediate, release, transcend, more resentment than we create. Which still is a tough thing to say in a forum like this, let alone do.

Accordingly, the test of pomo PC would be to ask whether what began as a genuine attempt to address the resentment of various marginalized peoples continues to do more to transcend the quantum of resentment in the world than it does to create new resentments. Of course we can never measure this; it comes down to intuition and most convincing arguments. FWIW, I don't think the PC of today's mainstream left any longer passes this test and we need to evolve a new paradigm of politeness, justice, speaking truth to power, etc.

IOW, one objective should be to try to morph political correctness, and its rhetorics of injustice, into a discussion of resentment per se, a discussion whose goal will be to help us move beyond myths of "root causes" (i.e. scapegoating, fingerpointing) and make a question of why humans are resentful beings in the first place. And what we can do about it.

At first this line of thought pisses a lot of people off: how dare you say that I am resentful!! Are you trying to sell me some religion? But I think in the long run it is the question we must pursue if we want humanity to survive. Sooner or later, it has to become a commonplace that Islam is, on the whole, a more resentful religion than Christianity. And people must defend or change their ideas accordingly.

gumshoe1 said...

the march of dhimmitude continues.

sorry,syl.

there is no First Amendment
in the
Quran or the Hadith.

your presentation
is asymmetrical from the beginning.

gumshoe1 said...

"Accordingly, the test of pomo PC would be to ask whether what began as a genuine attempt to address the resentment of various marginalized peoples continues to do more to transcend the quantum of resentment in the world than it does to create new resentments. Of course we can never measure this; it comes down to intuition and most convincing arguments. FWIW, I don't think the PC of today's mainstream left any longer passes this test and we need to evolve a new paradigm of politeness, justice, speaking truth to power, etc.

IOW, one objective should be to try to morph political correctness, and its rhetorics of injustice, into a discussion of resentment per se, a discussion whose goal will be to help us move beyond myths of "root causes" (i.e. scapegoating, fingerpointing) and make a question of why humans are resentful beings in the first place. And what we can do about it."
-true peers

there is a zen parable
that addresses the rants
and attacks,the endless
cries of "racism!" ,"sexism!",
and "oppression!" of PoMo PC.

the punch line goes:

"what are you DOING!?"

for,imo, they are simply the most modern iteration of all the evils they rail against:

-racism
-speech codes
-gender bias
-oppression
-rancor
-divisiveness
-etc.

gumshoe1 said...

PS - true peers

i got your email a while back,and apologize for not responding
Re:Girard and his follower...

i have not yet had time to read Girard's work and didn;t feel i could address his follower's work
as you had asked.

neuroconservative said...

"At first this line of thought pisses a lot of people off: how dare you say that I am resentful!! Are you trying to sell me some religion? But I think in the long run it is the question we must pursue if we want humanity to survive." -- truepeers

The denial of original sin is at the core of the pomo religion. For many, this denial has been able to withstand the power of a 767 smashing into a 110-story building. Twice. In one hour.

I would like to be the first to join you in your struggle to "morph" the discourse in such a manner that unmasks these primordial resentments, bringing id into the realm of ego. But how can a few lonely bloggers succeed where actual events failed?

Perhaps that is a fundamental purpose for this blog...

BTW, I had more to say about this topic back when I was blogging at my own site.

truepeers said...

No problem Gumshoe. You're right about the PC - they've learned too much from those they decry. It's one thing to turn an idea inside out, quite another to rise above it. The problem of course is our desire for power. "Even" the left want to be heard and many are willing to pay the necessary price. So our PC codes ostensibly speak for the oppressed but most days you read the news from the world's hell holes and think many people were better off with a more active sponsorship from the world's privileged elites, as in the colonial as compared to postcolonial eras. When it becomes clear that western guilt can kill more than has western self-assertion, the PC tower will crumble. See Wretchard's thoughts on this in regard to the present potentially deadly stand off in France.

truepeers said...

That's a great post Neurocon. I'm glad your blogging with us.

What can a handful of bloggers do where events fail? I'm not sure events have totally failed. 9/11 turned some people. And each new event turns some more. Of course the problem is that most of us educated westerners are so well cocooned that many experience something like 9/11 as not quite real, the "movie" so many thought they had already seen. But an appetite for truth about the human condition grows when hard realities impinge on us. And one thing that the truth about resentment has going for it is that we live in a world of ever increasing expectations and personal ambitions. People spend long years getting "educated", they invest more and more in a faith in fairness, i.e. in rules and regulations to insure a PC fairness, only to find that they nonetheless lose out in various competitions, say they can't get the job they want because they lack something minor on paper, or in appearance - something minor raised to great significance because there is no other way to choose among people in an open and competitive society. You lack some silly credential, even though you know you are more skilled, experienced, whatever, and you descend into resentment and conspiratorial thinking, from which you must eventually free yourself or go crazy.

That's why a guy like Larry David can make a "cutting edge" tv show that is all about the endless resentments of our daily life.

IOW, I think it will become increasingly important for people - simply out of self-interest in their mental health - to inquire more deeply into resentment. That's more or less why I have pursued the question, a process 9/11 only accelerated though it had consciously begun as such for me a year or two before.

You may think we are only a few bloggers but maybe such questions are what the blogosphere is for and maybe the blogosphere has yet to evolve the self-consciousness that will one day make this evident and a concern of many more bloggers. In any case, I see little shifts in the right direction all the time.

For example, a week ago I went to see the world's leading student of resentment speak at a local university. The first questioner had the appearance of a lefty, baby boomer philosopher; he had spent the whole talk giving off resentful and tortured body language as he beheld this conservative intellect who dares to propose a new paradigm for human self-understanding that is in large part centered on the question of resentment. The question began in a rather indignant tone but, despite his apparent right to be indignant (which made me a little indignant), he could not be entirely indigant: "well, I liked that much more than I thought I would," said he (to which he did not get an indignant reply, but merely a modest recognition of his tortured soul). The tenured radical had heard some truth and he knew it and couldn't argue his way out of it, and so, I imagine, he left quieter than he usually does. As i think did others there. Which is why the left we hear more and more about is more and more loony in the Moore mold.

Peter UK said...

Neoconservative.
Political correctness is a class thing,observed by the chattering classes.Working class people have no time for it,government adheres to it as a control mechanism and to placate the chattering classes.
Often the beneficiaries of PC are uninterested.What we need is a little old fashioned class warfare,the chattering classes need to be afraid of the working class as well.