A Little Fallout: Bias and the “Humanities”

fallout

Graphic depicting nuclear fallout – image credit unknown

Several days ago, I posted a link to my essay Concealment: Should I Have Used a Pen Name? in a private writers group on Facebook. The admin always holds links in mediation prior to approval. Usually the process takes a few minutes to an hour, but after a day went by, I figured I’d gone too far and he wasn’t going to approve it.

However, 24 hours later it appeared. Either he was too busy to approve of it prior to that time (doubtful, since he’d been active in the group all along), or he was pondering whether or not to approve it, maybe even consulting others.

Well, it was approved, and discussion in the group was pretty interesting and generally positive. That is, until this one, offered by an admin of another writers group to which I do not belong (and I don’t plan on asking to join):

Generally speaking, it’s hard to study the humanities and develop an appreciation of the arts and come away believing that militarism, class and racial divisions, the unlimited acquisition of money, religious dogma, adoration of dictators, etc. are wonderful things. More than anything else, that’s why artists and entertainers tend to be liberal (in the historical sense of western democracy and liberalism). …If you write mainly to make money, be assured there are markets for fiction catering to people who still think Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Jefferson Davis, and Richard Nixon were swell role models.

Here’s my response:

I sense a rebuke, [name redacted], but one of the points of my wee missive has to do with being judged by my “labels” and not as a human being. Let me know when you stop thinking of me as a stereotype. Thanks.

This fellow proved my point in a nutshell. From his perspective, people in the “arts” are overwhelmingly liberal and leftist for the points he made above, but get this. Anyone who isn’t on board with that perspective, may well be seen in the light of “militarism, class and racial divisions, the unlimited acquisition of money, religious dogma, adoration of dictators” as well as spiritual associates with “Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Jefferson Davis, and Richard Nixon.”

Really. It’s that polar. Either you soar with the progressive angels or you are slumming with the greatest mass murders in human history.

Granted, this is only one person’s opinion, but I am concerned that it represents a lot of folks who have studied “the humanities and have developed an appreciation for the arts,” people who are more than ready to stereotype the rest of us.

This won’t be a lengthy article. Mr. “I am freely virtue signaling today” is just another confirmation of the blind bias that seems to be prevalent in the “humanities.” While some people of faith tend to be heavy on “religious dogma,” I seriously doubt my critic could possibly understand any other reason for a person to turn to the Creator, and that their faith might produce positive and beneficial actions for individuals and groups as opposed to “class and racial divisions.”

More’s the pity.

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12 thoughts on “A Little Fallout: Bias and the “Humanities”

  1. I’m a moderate and got it from both sides, so I hear ya. When I disagreed with the left I was in with the rightwing dictators. When I disagreed with the right, I was in with the babykilling libtards. Facebook = 🤮

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, that’s another one of my concerns. Some folks on the right are so angry, they seem to want to wage a war. All I want to do is tell a good story and believe it’s possible to “rub elbows’ with different people representing varying points on the ideological scale. Granted, as has been pointed out to me on many occasions, I have my own biases and character flaws, so obviously I don’t qualify for sainthood. The point is though, it’s not about being a perfect person, it’s about the struggle to communicate and connect with those folks who aren’t like you. That isn’t easy, especially when some folks think that if you aren’t like them, you are automatically Hitler.

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  2. You mentioned “lablels”, which I agree seem to be a feature of “knee-jerk” reactionism that refuses to engage in any analytical thinking and argument about the actual values, consequences, or implications of one or another assertion of opinion or view. Thus no discussion can occur to persuade or dissuade either respondent to a disagreement. Dismissal of any respondent who has been labeled, and thereby placed into a box of predetermined enemies, is a sign of misanthropic disrespect of fellow human beings as well as of lacking confidence in the intellectual defensibility of one’s own views. One ought to be able to expect better from those who claim to have studied the humanities.

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    • Here’s where we’ve gotten to so far:

      Critic: I readily admit I push back at fascism (shorthand for those things and people I listed). There’s a disturbing amount of fascist poison in sci-if and fantasy, and I consider that BAD writing even if the writing is good. I push back at that. …Stereotype? I suppose there are conservatives who give all they have to the poor, but it’s not what’s usually meant by the term. If I’ve misjudged you, I apologize. ….If, however, you’re playing a victim game — fascism gets unfair treatment because there’s a bias toward decency in the arts, academia, publishing etc — then I’m not buying it.

      Me: Dennis, all I’m trying to say is that people aren’t their stereotypes. I know that it’s possible to say something like “I’m a conservative” and have that simple statement be translated into a set of characteristics that may or may not fit me or anyone else possessing that label. The same with “I am religious” or “I am a Grandpa.” My point is that I would prefer to get to know the people behind the labels, and I would also like to be known that way as well. I believe there’s room at the table for a variety of human beings. That said, I also draw the line at the various and greatest mass murderers in human history. I’ve found that while I might not always agree with someone, it helps if I can talk to them about their perspectives. I certainly don’t always expect to be agreed with. I took the risk of posting this link here (sorry, Grant) knowing it would be controversial, because I think that creative people need to not ignore the controversial. Christians, Jews, and Muslims (speaking of religious people) also are creative and write and we live and work among you. Or as the late Joan Rivers used to quip, “Can we talk?”

      Critic: If you choose to describe yourself as conservative, then you’ve willingly put a label on yourself. Don’t be shocked if non-conservatives oppose you or (in the case of acquisition editors) choose not to give you a platform. ….If you support Trump, Falwell, Cruz etc. don’t make crocodile-tear pleas for civility and tolerance! …If you want to convince me that what you call conservatism is entirely different from that, PM me and we’ll have a chat. …Forgive us, [Admin] et al, for going out of bounds.

      Me: I’m willing to take this to a different platform if it’s going too far afield for Grant, but in interpreting “Conservative” to mean “voted for Trump, support Falwell, and Cruz” those are all assumptions, not facts, and that’s exactly my point. While I don’t mind talking via PM and such, I feel as if I’m being asked to justify my existence, and I’m not sure I have to.

      It certainly seems as if this guy has an ax to grind and is putting me in the hot seat. Well, I did ask the question, but I don’t feel like being put under the microscope on his terms, and frankly I shouldn’t have to. If this person wants to know more about me, he could try reading my blog (which I’m sure he hasn’t) and if he doesn’t agree with me, that’s too darn bad. It may come to the point where I tell him that and then he goes off feeling justified in his moral superiority.

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  3. I am very glad that I am not in that group. This person has proven that they are ignorant of history and forms of government.

    “shorthand for those things and people I listed” I suspect a more correct statement would be “shorthand for those things and people I don’t like”.

    After seeing this, and a few other similar comments, I think I’ll stick to lurking in the Mad Genius Club blog and the Conservative-Libertarian alliance on MeWe.

    As far a using a pen name goes, I would mention that many great writers have used a nom de plume – Mark Twain jumps to mind. They serve as a barrier between the reader/fan and the writer’s privacy.

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    • He’s responded to me two more times, and the last one gives me an easy out. All I have to do is not respond. I’m sure in his own mind, he will claim moral victory over the “evil Nazi.” So be it. Here is what he had to say. Let’s hope it ends here:

      Critic: James Pyles Your original question was: “…especially if your opinions are already spread all over the four corners of social media, in order to increase the possibility of professional success, would it make sense to use a pen name?” …My answer: If a person spread his/her opinions publicly and encountered enough backlash to those opinions that it seems like a good idea to use an assumed identity to avoid being associated with those opinions, then I guess the pen-name is a time-honored option, though it does imply a certain willingness to deceive, to be dishonest to achieve “professional success.”

      ….it might be easier to give up odious opinions.

      I almost said something like, “The door swings both ways” but that would just add fuel to the fire, so to avoid the aggravation of dealing with a classic internet troll and out of respect for the admin of the group I posted my link in, I will keep silent.

      Let’s hope he doesn’t decide to follow the original link here. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • “it does imply a certain willingness to deceive, to be dishonest to achieve “professional success.”

        *cough* Samuel Clemons, Stephen King, Robert Heinlien, Isacc Asimov, Anne Rice, Michael Crichton, Agatha Christi, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson and Eric Arthur Blair, would disagree that it is dishonest. 😉

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  4. I will say this, there have always been problems with inclusion in the humanities. I think that it is widespread. One of my favorite thinkers is Roger Scruton. I do not agree with the majority of his political dogma. But the man can think, write, process, and explain. I look forward to continuing to read his work.

    Like

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