|ISN'T THIS WHAT THEY ALWAYS SAY?|
There's always moral instruction whether the writer inserts it deliberately or not. The least effective moral instruction in fiction is that which is consciously inserted. Partly because it won't reflect the storyteller's true beliefs, it will only reflect what he BELIEVES he believes, or what he thinks he should believe or what he's been persuaded of.
But when you write without deliberately expressing moral teachings, the morals that show up are the ones you actually live by. The beliefs that you don't even think to question, that you don't even notice-- those will show up. And that tells much more truth about what you believe than your deliberate moral machinations.
--Orson Scott Card
Last summer I did a piece on why you should boycott the movie Ender's Game and Orson Scott Card. It had to do with the fact that Card is a right wing homophobic, climate change denier.
It turns out Card is more than that.
When was the last time you read something where a guy proposes a justification for genocide? You don't see such things very often. Read Card's Ender's Game and you will find just that...and then some more.
What is troubling is that so many critics and fans have loved the series...and so few even get what is going on...what they are being fed...or they don't care...or they agree.
Still, I confess just last week I thought maybe I will read this Ender's Game that won all these awards. Sure maybe the guy is a homophobic asshole who can make justification for genocide, but I hear the story is a good one.
Whew, I came to my senses and decided I wasn't willing to contribute a penny to this guy's fortune. I wasn't about to hate the sin but read the sinner. I just could not do that.
John Kessel writes in "Foundation, the International Review of Science Fiction," of the hero of Ender's game:
Through this abusive training Ender becomes expert at wielding violence against his enemies, and this ability ultimately makes him the savior of the human race. The novel repeatedly tells us that Ender is morally spotless; though he ultimately takes on guilt for the extermination of the alien buggers, his assuming this guilt is a gratuitous act. He is presented as a scapegoat for the acts of others. We are given to believe that the destruction Ender causes is not a result of his intentions; only the sacrifice he makes for others is. In this Card argues that the morality of an act is based solely on the intentions of the person acting.
The result is a character who exterminates an entire race and yet remains fundamentally innocent.
What bothers me about OSC and Ender's Game is that he says that only intentions matter in making such judgments. This I absolutely reject. It is the classic excuse of someone who commits a heinous act to say that his intentions were good, and to justify his questionable means by referring to his good ends. We see this all too obviously, for example, in the justifications the Bush administration gave for the Iraq war. They said they thought Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, that he had links to terrorism, that we were there to promote democracy, etc. Millions of people even at the time knew that these justifications were inadequate, or in many cases outright fabrications.
Card sets up Ender to be the sincere, abused innocent, and rigs the game to make us accept that he does no wrong. I see the entire pupose of the "remote war by game" trick in the novel as a device to make this argument plausible. But in the real world genocide is not committed by accident. We see the immoral consequences of such a mode of thought in the heaps of dead bodies that history has piled up, committed always by leaders who tell us they only meant to protect us from evil. I just will not accept that.
And, neither will I...
For Scission Cultural Monday I give to you the following from Salon (I will next week present the follow-up to this article).
Orson Scott Card’s unconscionable defense of genocide
"Ender's Game" essentially argues that mass killing can be not just good, but almost holy
Card shows that the belief in genocide is not founded, as is often suggested, on pragmatism. The eradication of the buggers is not practically necessary. For Card, nonetheless, it is a good in itself, because only through the deaths of their enemies can Ender, and humanity, find moral truth, beauty and insight. In “Ender’s Game,” genocide becomes a kind of sacrament.