Thoughts on toxic bigotry

I was going to point and laugh at the Puppies some more today, after seeing this post yesterday reporting that they’ve called for an official boycott of Tor. Now, I am NOT pleased with Tom Doherty’s throwing Irene Gallo under the bus the way he did–but on the other hand, several of my top favorite authors are published by Tor, and I’m fully cognizant of how trying to boycott an entire publisher pretty much only hurts the authors involved. Dara has additional commentary about why this boycott is doomed to fail, and me, I feel some solidarity with Mr. Hines: “I’m disinclined to acquiesce to his request.”

But then the Charleston news exploded over Twitter last night, and suddenly pointing and laughing at Puppies seems rather less important.

Except for this: there’s a thing that the Puppies brouhaha has in common with Charleston, with Ferguson, with Baltimore, with the pool party in Texas, and with every other horrific shooting this country has experienced in the last few years.

That thing is toxic bigotry.

The kind of toxic bigotry that leads people to sniff that SF novels with non-white people on the cover are clearly “message fiction” and aren’t as deserving of awards as books with white people on the cover. That exiles those books to minority-only sections of bookstores, thereby gutting those books’ chances of actually selling in reasonable numbers.

The kind of toxic bigotry that also erases non-white protagonists from covers and whitewashes characters, in the name of trying to make them sell better to white people.

The kind of toxic bigotry that leads people to believe it’s somehow okay to hurl screamingly racist insults under the aegis of an official genre author organization, and then to get pissy when that organization boots their ass out. Pissy enough to then turn around and orchestrate sabotage of the most revered award in that genre.

The kind of toxic bigotry that leads people to believe it’s somehow okay to bitch about non-white people showing up at a science fiction convention–because maybe, y’know, they like science fiction–because they preface their remarks with “There’s no way to say this without sounding racist…”

The kind of toxic bigotry that leads school systems to believe that it’s okay to teach their children that black slaves were “happy”.

The kind of toxic bigotry that leads otherwise rational people to feel threatened because somebody who doesn’t look like them lives near them. Or works with them. Or gets elected to political office, including the White House.

The kind of toxic bigotry that would rather destroy any chance of poor Americans getting health care they desperately need than allow a black President to succeed at something. Especially if the poor Americans in question are also black.

The kind of toxic bigotry that consistently vilifies black victims of shootings in the media, while at the same time refusing to call a white supremacist shooter what he is: a murdering racist terrorist.

The kind of toxic bigotry that can lead a young man to invade a house of worship for the express purpose of killing people who don’t look like him.

It’s all bigotry. It’s all toxic. The only difference between all of these examples is degree–whether the victims are only a little scarred by the acid or have been pushed into a roiling pit of it. It all still causes pain. And when you have to deal with an existence of constant little scars, eventually, it’s just as bad as being pushed into the pit.

And it needs to stop.

I saw this tweet on Twitter this morning:

CAN DO. I denounce it, and the culture that has allowed it to take place. And I will also say these names: Rev. Clementa Pinckney and Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. For them, and for the rest of the victims in Charleston, I denounce the ugly act of racism that has caused them to lose their lives.

Toxic bigotry kills.

And it needs to stop.

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