Dumb and Dumber, the left’s two worst ideas

Dumb and Dumber, the left’s two worst ideas

By Jules Older

Editor’s note: Jules Older is a Vermonter turned New Zealander who works as an executive consultant, medical educator, crisis counselor and writer.

Don’t let that headline fool you — I bat left. I know the 2020 election wasn’t rigged, I think abortion is a woman’s right, I’m sure Bill Gates didn’t invent covid vaccine so he could control the world, and I’m dead-certain that yes, Black lives do matter. Oh, and climate change is both real and really alarming.

I bat left, but I can switch-hit. When my team comes up with a terrible idea, I say so. When it comes up with two in a row — read on.

The first dumb doctrine has been around for a long time; in my view, way too long a time. The notion that so irks me is — heavy sigh — appropriation.

Appropriation means that if you’re a writer, as I am, and you have the temerity to create a character from an ethnicity that isn’t your own, you’re appropriating, a.k.a. stealing someone else’s culture. And that, my friend, is a sin.

Why is this such an awful notion? For so many reasons. Here are but three:

1. Writers are supposed to create characters; that’s what we do. I’m writing a kid’s book based on Billings, Montana’s brave response to hate crimes. It has three young heroes: Chip’s a local white kid heading for trouble, Stevie’s a Jew from Back East, and Quinelle’s the Black catcher on the school baseball team. If I believed in appropriation, two of them would have to go.

2. The writers most limited by appropriation are ethnics, themselves. Should Lin-Manuel Miranda write only about Puerto Rican Americans, and not The King? Should Felicia Berliner have not written Shmutz because she’s not Hassidic? Should gay writers limit themselves to gay detectives, Apaches to Apache warriors, Palestinians to Palestinian lovers?

3. Thanks to ‘appropriation’ in the arts, the world is a better place. Titian painted beautiful women. On “Modern Family,” straight Eric Stonestreet played a wonderful gay parent. And American E. Annie Proulx wrote the great Newfoundland (and Pulitzer Prize winning) novel, “The Shipping News.”

So. In my writerly opinion, appropriation is dumb, deeply dumb. But wait — there’s something even dumber. And, for society, much, much worse.

I’m talking about the white savior complex. The accusation of ‘white savior’ is hurled at any member of the majority — usually a white majority — who tries to help someone from an oppressed minority — usually, but not always, a darker-skinned minority.

An example. The best — in just about every sense of ‘best’ — literary white savior is Atticus Finch, the white lawyer who risks own his life defending an unjustly accused Black man in Harper Lee’s classic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Surely, Atticus would escape the wrath of the anti-mob.

Nope. Here’s but one from a long list of denunciations; the title tells it all: “Goodbye And Good Riddance To Atticus Finch And Other ‘White Saviors.’”

What makes this not just dumb but awful? Because, making a better world starts with kindness, and the denigration of the white savior discourages and disparages kindness — especially that most important sort, kindness to the downtrodden.

Need examples of notable white saviors? The white Americans who hid escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad. The Christian family who hid Anne Frank and her family in their attic. Schwerner and Goodman, murdered in Mississippi for defending Black rights. The non-Muslim New Zealanders who embraced the Muslim community after the Christchurch mosque attacks. All white saviors. All models for a better world. All heroes.

We need more white heroes, not fewer. To make this happen, we should praise these real heroes, not convert them into self-serving, secretly racist villains. If we are going to make a better world, my fellow lefties should be leading the charge.

One comment on “Dumb and Dumber, the left’s two worst ideas

  1. Climate Change.
    Yes, that dreaded menace created by man. Say what?
    Climate change has been around since God rested on the seventh day. In Vermont, floods and hurricanes have been very prominent since the early 1900’s. In 1963, several counties in the state were experiencing dry, hot conditions even into October of that year, resulting in woods being closed to all normal activity such as hunting, logging, hiking. This after the previous winter (’62-’63) gave us massive snowfall in the higher ground in Franklin County, resulting in backroads being closed for the better part of the winter in some towns.
    I was living in that part of the planet at the time, and that my friends, was climate change, with temperatures down to -20/-30 night after night.
    Studying Government records over the period of several years will show that all these things of weather, repeat themselves after a period of time. In fact, Channel 3 told us not long ago that a trip back in time took them to the 1920’s to find a recent record breaker in temperature.

    History in all it’s form is there for us to read. Maybe even surprises might show. Oh goodness, can’t have that can we???

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