Thursday, June 8, 2017

We're Here, We're Conservative, Get Used to It (Clearer, and Longer, Updated Version)

(Edited because it went live in an unfinished form...the family who run the Family Bakery Cafe have a family reunion coming on, and wanted to close the cafe early yesterday, while I was still writing.)

Here's a new book link--Correspondents' Choice; I have (as yet) no way of knowing how helpful it may be, but I'd like to encourage anyone out there who finds it helpful to share it with me...

Amazon Associates don't get free books, and this web site has yet to achieve financial security.

However, this web site has been Goaded Beyond a Breaking Point.

Some of you may remember how, about a year ago, I (Priscilla King) lost a steady writing job because I couldn't do content that I felt would "be polarizing" about last year's presidential debacle. In real life I've not been trained to "polarize" people, nor have I noticeably done that. In real life--admittedly more because of my complexion than because of my actual personality or character, but still--I've been consistently steered toward diplomatic more than campaigning circles.

I think of myself, despite what I see as appalling abuse of a good word, as "liberal." As distinct from, and sometimes opposed to, left-wing.

I do not think of myself as primarily a political creature. I do not think of this web site as primarily a political blog, although the correspondence from elected officials isn't going away. What I'm about is writing, books, and writers. All of them. Including the ones who disagree with me about religion or politics, because a Real Liberal may disagree with what you say but will always defend your right to say it.

I don't think it's possible for a book not to say anything about its author's worldview. (If it really tries, a book may succeed in not saying anything coherent to anybody; that's what we call a bad book.)

It's possible for a fictional book to be dominated by its authors' opinions to the point that it loses credibility. I personally like G.K. Chesterton's "Father Brown" detective stories--but I like them because they're pieces of Chesterton wit, not because they're detective stories. As detective stories they fail, because there's no suspense once you've figured out that, if a crime has been committed (and sometimes, by way of surprise, it only seems as if one has), you know the non-Catholic character "dunnit." Sometimes we're even told that how Father Brown solved a mystery was that he'd heard a character's confession. Give us a break. These stories work as op-eds-in-narrative-form but they fail as mysteries.

A better example of how a fervent Christian might write detective stories was Dorothy Sayers. Like Chesterton and Arthur Conan Doyle, she started with a likable detective--some critics wondered whether Lord Peter Wimsey was the son she wished she'd had. He was a shellshocked veteran, gradually recovering from post-traumatic stress as the series progressed, using his detective work to help other people and his ability to help them cope with his PTSD. Sayers' mysteries weren't exactly "cozy" but neither were they "hard-boiled." They're saturated with Christian humanitarian feeling. Neither Sayers, nor Wimsey and his friends, nor readers, can ever forget that each victim was a person who might have suffered and was probably missed. And Wimsey was educated in a time and place when education involved mandatory classes in (Christian) "Religious Knowledge" as well as a body of "English Literature" that included many Christian religious works. He talks like a Christian. Yet Sayers insisted that Wimsey was only Christian in the cultural sense, that he had no real faith of his own. Readers suggested that she make him a Christian. She refused. Wimsey kept struggling (believably) with his feelings without seeking comfort in religion, and he kept working with sincere Christians and insincere Christians and lapsed Christians, and aristocrats, and working men, and lesbians, and mad artists, and advertising people (like Sayers), and convicts, and every other kind of people you meet in real life. You know how a Lord Peter Wimsey story is going to end if you happen to share the odd bit of knowledge Wimsey uses to solve the mystery--what's missing from somebody's toolbox? You can't predict how the story is going to end based on whether characters are "nice" or religious or similar to Sayers in any way.

Does that mean these novels were written "just for entertainment"? Sayers wrote things that sound as if she thought they were, and felt guilty about them--and yet they say several things that she seems to have believed: that each individual life matters, that "nice" people aren't necessarily better human beings than less attractive people, that rich people shouldn't avoid fraternizing with poor people...

Here's another detective story that has stuck in my mind, although I can't say it's especially well written or find anything Christian about it:

The opinions The Silence of the Lambs contains may not be specifically Christian, but if they're not what Harris believed while he was writing it, he ought to be ashamed of himself; the novel certainly contains opinions. It says that young women are brave and tough, that the FBI is a respectable part of the U.S. government, and most emphatically that even serial murderers may be worth feeding; and other things.

I wish I could now say something about what Hope Clark's detective stories say. (I wish I'd read them, but nobody's been paying me enough to buy them as new books, nor has anyone sent me a copy of them as secondhand books, and I'm already enjoying enough of her e-newsletters for free that I refuse to request a free book.) She says they're "just for entertainment." I don't think that's true; if it were, they wouldn't be entertaining, and nobody would bother to print them. For starters all successful murder mysteries always say that (a) murder is wrong and (b) murderers will be caught. Then, the better they're written, the more they add to that primary message; the more they express what the author believes. Not in the sense of being predictable, but in the sense of showing thought and high-quality work...

The Edisto Island Mysteries (4 Book Series) by  C. Hope Clark

But I've been kicking the Big Lie that Refuses to Die around for some time now--the lie that all "conservatives" are haters, or, more specifically, the kind of people who think that persons of color are inferior and should have to sit at the back of the bus. This web site has consistently kicked that lie at every opportunity, from the beginning, when we started publicizing Tea Party groups organized by members of ethnic minorities and even by Democrats. (For the record, the first Tea Party link I ever found was on a Democrat's web site, although I never went back and linked to it from this web site; for the record, Karen Bracken used to be, and Charlotte Iserbyt remained, Democrats.)

Over the weekend I felt an especially strong urge to kick that Illiberal Left lie because this was the weekend when I finally got through a stack of old printouts and really read a Democratic Party poll site's findings about where that party stood, early in ex-President Obama's first campaign. It was illuminating. There was a wide and consistent split between what the D's called liberals, meaning Illiberal Left yuppies, and the majority of actual Democrat voters, whom the D's classified as "conservative Democrats" and government-funding-dependent Democrats. (Apart from their preference to maintain and expand welfare handout programs, the funding-dependent Democrat voters' positions on some questions skewed to the right of the Republicans surveyed.) Also, relative to the left wing of the Democratic Party, both Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton had to be classified as, really, wingnuts. Actual Democrat voters remained the party of people like Molly Ivins, Jim Hightower, John Holt, Karen Bracken, and the relative this web site has nicknamed my "Aunt Dotty." Obama and Clinton represented those people perhaps a tiny bit better than they represent Grandma Bonnie Peters (a lifelong Republican)--but not much.

I don't identify as any kind of Republican, certainly not an angry one...but Would youall really like to know how it was possible for a heroine like Hillary to lose to the Orange One?!?!  There, I'll stop yelling now.

In real life I've not found it especially hard to get along with Democrats. I've voted for more Republicans than Democrats, but I've found it possible to work with Democrats; I was happily married to one. I own several books by self-proclaimed Democrats, some of which I bought new to show respect.

So when I went so far as to reply to Hope Clark's e-newsletter, and she replied to my e-mail, I was quite disappointed that (for her) it doesn't work both ways. She just wanted to huddle together with people who agreed with her, whose books were "just for entertainment." She was absolutely sure that nobody who'd ever expressed opinions different from hers could have written anything "for entertainment." Even people who expressed opinions similar to hers overtly were "loud" and needed to be ignored until they gave up and left "the sane people," apparently meaning sneaking left-wingers, to reconcile their (minuscule) differences...

Mercy, Percy. I hope that's not what she actually meant to say, but that's what all the crybully types wailing about all of us mean, racist Republicans (all alike, of course) do consistently say, isn't it?

Then I checked in on Twitter this morning, and my Twitter feed was full of sour, angry Republican reactions to all the hate the D's have been dumping on the R's (and other non-Left types) for so long. Lots of hostility about Trump and Comey. Eric Trump said, presumably out of context, that Democrats aren't people and lots of R's were joking, I hope, that they agreed...I don't think I've ever seen so much angry-sounding Republican discourse. I'm not bothered when people express fear, sorrow, gloom, or malaise, but I am when they start going back and forth with anger. Lighten up, Republicans, you're starting to sound as bad as Democrats.

Well...this web site refuses to become a hostility dump site. This web site has a founding member who is a Republican, and in other action on this web site I just received an update from Grandma Bonnie Peters, age 82.

She's working again.

She's failed to break through the discrimination against people over age 80 at the Wal-Mart that wasn't built within easy walking distance from her house until she passed age 80.

Her vision has deteriorated enough that she's no longer able to drive.

So she's painting houses...because, although she qualified for a disability pension and was living on one for about a year post-bronchitis, she no longer considers herself disabled and wants a job!

There is a need to replace that ugly, inaccurate image of Republicans as Nazis (several Republicans personally killed Nazis) with the image of the actual Republican at this web site: a stooped, plump, perky, white-haired 82-year-old who would rather earn her own money doing honest work than be "taken care of" by social workers.

There's an actual need for friendly, goodhearted, fiscally conservative, socially liberal content on the Internet these days.

No, that kind of content is not what an unprejudiced reader would necessarily consider "dominated by politics"--although it's congruent with a reality-based political mindset. In real life GBP doesn't talk much about politics. She's more likely to talk about her grandchildren, her flowers, her church, what her younger friends are doing, how well her same-age friends are holding up, what she's been cooking and eating lately, any correlations she's noticed between what she's eaten and any symptoms she's noticed, and even new books when she's been able to read one, than about politics. I don't even know how she voted last November. I know she's a Republican because she doesn't want people trying to take care of her and keep her "free from want, free from fear." (Maybe mutual protection from those things with a close friend, but not some sort of "social program.") She wants to be free to protect herself from "want" and "fear."

I've not even been reading much of what I classify as political news lately. It's not been about issues; it's been about the personalities of people I don't know. I consider that gossip, and I consider its dominance of so-called political news an unhealthy sign in a democratic country, because only in a monarchy should "who" questions displace "what," "how," and "why" questions. This week Popvox reported that the U.S. Congress agreed to "condemn the terrorist attacks in Manchester in the strongest heartfelt condolences, and reaffirm unwavering support for the special relationship between" the U.S. and the U.K. Not much room for disagreement there, although it leaves room for debate about follow-up. I myself have been thinking more about the effect the cool wet weather is having on the raspberries than about politics. However, like GBP, I still want my government to get out of the way and let me protect myself from "want" and "fear."

I believe everybody has the right to be heard...including the far-right Lord's Covenant Church, although yesterday on Twitter I caught myself calling one of them down for digging up that old Cold War rhetoric. I remember Sheldon Emry, not as a hater, but as an elderly minister who shared a lot of fears that were sort of outdated even in the 1970s. But...The Bible Says Russia Will Invade America and Be Defeated? Meh. I don't know that it says that. Daniel himself didn't know that it said that. Wouldn't have known, if living. The biblical book of Daniel ends with a lot of reported prophecies of a future Daniel claimed he himself couldn't explain, as in Daniel 12:8-9, copied from

And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?
9And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

And Daniel also admitted he'd been ill at the time, for whatever that may be worth. I do know that the dear old L.C.C. expected the Cold War to heat up within their lifetimes, and that's not what happened. So I see no particular benefit in trying to revive a war that stayed "cold" while it lasted and is, thank goodness, over (for now). We do not need more lists of movie producers to shun because they were Eastern European and/or Jewish.

We just might, however, need to start shunning the people who want to hush up all "political" content that might amount to dissent from the globalist agenda of the totalitarians manipulating the left wing of the Democratic Party. I would never suggest that we boycott all books, movies, magazines, web sites, etc., produced by Democrats. (In fact I recommend that we support the good ones...produced by what that ten-year-old site called the "conservative" Democrats.) But considering all those Internet pundits who recommend that we suppress "political" thought in order to be popular (with them), and Hope Clark's startling confession that she was refusing to read a friend's well reviewed novel because the friend had expressed "political disagreement," and Chuck Wendig's hostility to my post in January that very respectfully and supportively disagreed with one of his...and considering Al Gore's horrible version of The Future for the Internet...I wonder whether we need to start asking our favorite Democrats to show their truly liberal support for, shudder, quake, "conservative" ideas. And people. Do we need "litmus tests" of their views on un-American censorship?

Are people prejudiced against me because I've been doing something to meet the need for nice, cheerful, sometimes "conservative" content? Is that why this web site isn't receiving better funding? (I hate to stereotype all Republicans as the kind of people who can't bring themselves to admit that anyone who deserves funding really needs funding, but if the shoe fits...)

Well, if it is, it is.

We're here! We're conservative! Get used to it!

And don't forget to fund it. "Conservative" Americans don't think of ourselves as embattled, because what most of us are saying, most of the time, is in fact congruous with what the majority of Americans (including the majority of Democrats, if they've not consulted the latest party line) are saying. But, in cyberspace and on television, we've always been treated like a minority, and we're likely to become a persecuted minority--we're not talking about the same Democrats who used to have a dream of little children from both sides playing in the same parks, in case anybody has failed to notice this. We need to develop within ourselves the kind of loyalty that allowed the Old Left to achieve majority status in the television industry.