OSC, and the end of civilization

I like Orson Scott Card. And I owe him.  Many years ago, he taught an undergrad playwriting class at BYU; as a student in that class, I learned a lot, probably more than from any other playwriting teacher I ever studied with.  I wrote a play for that class which he championed, and which was eventually produced.  I am a playwright today largely because of OSC.  I wouldn’t say we’re friends, exactly–as writers, he’s way up there, and I’m way down here–but I know him, like him, and enjoy his writing.  Can’t wait to see Ender’s Game, for example.

And I will see Ender’s Game. OSC and I, uh, differ politically.  Nowhere do we differ more than in the politics of gay marriage.  But I do know him well enough to defend him against the charge of homophobia.  He finds himself, I think, in that gray area occupied by a lot of Mormons, who have gay friends and gay family members, and feel conflicted by a Church policy they nonetheless feel they need to defend.  I get where he’s coming from, while disagreeing pretty strenuously, and I do not plan to join the boycott against the film.

I also think that all of us who care about the United States and are worried about the future, patriots on the Right and Left, people who care a lot about politics and who write about it, have an occasional tendency to fly off the handle and write things we end up wishing we hadn’t written.  I thought about this yesterday when I read a blog post from OSC, dated May 9, titled ‘Unlikely Events.’  It went viral yesterday, which is when I learned of it.  A friend of mine called it ‘the post where OSC writes the script for the next Jon McNaughton painting,’ which about captures it.  Here’s the link: enjoy.

Obama the dictator.  Michelle Obama as a Lurleen Wallace, a figurehead President to circumvent the 22nd Amendment.  A laundry list of Tea Party/Conservative laments about this President.  A ‘national police force’ of inner city hooligans.  Reading it was dispiriting.  I wanted to lament, like Ophelia, “O, what a noble mind is here o’erthrown.”

The thing is, I’ve done this too, harbored the same fantasy.  When George W. Bush’s Presidency was nearing the end of its first term, I fantasized that even if John Kerry won the election, Bush wouldn’t surrender power.  That he would use the ‘war on terror’ as a pretext to declare martial law.  And what would we do then!  Boy, would the Constitution ever hang by a thread then!

But I was wrong.  Completely, unmistakably, utterly wrong.  Turns out that George W. Bush was a politician I disagreed with.  That’s it.  That’s all.  Not a monster, not a buffoon, not a tyrant, not a fool, not a despot.  A patriot, a man with limitations like all men, who tried his best to protect and serve our country, and who made some serious mistakes along the way, inevitably, but who did some good things too.

That’s who Barack Obama is.  And I think in his saner moments, OSC will admit that he’s overstating things a tad, that the President is, drumroll please, just a politician he disagrees with.  Not a tyrant and not a fool.

Back when I was in grad school, I remember studying the theatrical theories of Richard Wagner.  Later, I taught Wagner to grad students of my own.  Great composer of course, and also a genuine theatrical innovator.  And a man with political ideas that were both silly and dangerous.  Ideology blinds us.  I don’t think of myself a particularly doctrinaire liberal; I try at least to be reasonable and to listen to those who disagree with me.  But when I’m wrong (and I’m often wrong), it’s because I let a set of doctrines define me, instead of evidence and reason.  And, of course, the idea that any of us are objective and rational and completely without prejudice is a chimera.  We’re all products of culture.

Having said that, I suppose I should point out how, specifically, OSC is wrong. But lest I be called a witless Obama sycophant or something, let me point out that I have, on this blog, called for Obama’s impeachment, for drone warfare conducted against American citizens without due process.  I have serious misgivings about some of the policies of this President.  I also am willing to defend strongly others of his policies.  I don’t think the ACA is a stellar piece of legislation, but I think it’ll work pretty well, and it beats the status quo.  I think the President is right sometimes, and I think he’s wrong sometimes, like all the other Presidents.  I do think, though, that OSC’s rant is seriously fact-free.  It’s just the usual, dull, Fox News/Breitbart argle-blargle.  Frankly, it’s silly.  And with all due respect, we need to call him on it.  OSC is a fine writer, a genuinely interesting sci-fi/fantasy author.  He’s not an interesting political thinker.

“Obama is, by character and preference, a dictator. He hates the very idea of compromise; he demonizes his critics and despises even his own toadies in the liberal press. He circumvented Congress as soon as he got into office by appointing “czars” who didn’t need Senate approval. His own party hasn’t passed a budget ever in the Senate.

Nonsense, nonsense and more nonsense.  Every President has had advisors; calling them czars is a media thing.  Jimmy Carter had czars, so did both Bushes, so did Reagan.  Obama does respond when attacked–I guess that’s what‘s meant by ‘demonizes critics.’  His critics on the Left (I am one) think he’s much much too willing to compromise, eager to, in fact.  He’s spent most of the last three years calling for, and working for ‘a grand bargain,’ a comprehensive budget bill. As for not passing a budget, he’s done his job–he’s proposed budgets.  Every year.  Not his fault if an ideologically divided Congress can’t/won’t pass ‘em. 

In other words, Obama already acts as if the Constitution were just for show. Like Augustus, he pretends to govern within its framework, but in fact he treats it with contempt.”

Uh, he’s an expert in Constitutional law.  Taught it at the University of Chicago law school.  And I wasn’t aware Caesar Augustus ever consulted the US constitution.  I will concede, though, that OSC knows more about time travel than I do. 

In his years as president, the national media have never challenged Obama on anything. His lies and mistakes are unreported or quickly forgotten or explicitly denied; his critics are demonized.”

Oh, please.  The last three months have seen the national media go completely wild on various ‘scandals’ that turned out, on further examination, to be substance-less.  What a silly allegation. 

“He has never had to work for a living,”

So law school professor isn’t a real job?’ 

“He has never had to struggle to accomplish goals.”

Poor kid from a fractured family becomes law review editor, law school professor, US Senator and President of the United States?

“He despises ordinary people”

Like his grandparents, his mom, everyone he ever grew up with?

Is hostile to any religion that doesn’t have Obama as its deity”

Uh, wasn’t he attacked earlier because he was TOO CLOSE to Reverent Wright, his Chicago pastor?  Because he believed TOO MUCH in Reverent Wright‘s sermons?  Which is it?  Atheist, or wacko religious extremist?  

“And his contempt for the military is complete.”

 

He uses drones precisely because they will put fewer soldiers in harm‘s way.  I think the use of drones is strategically and morally wrong, but he doesn’t use them because of some imagined contempt for the military.  In fact the evidence for Obama’s contempt for common people, or the military, or the media, is. . . wait for it. . .  (crickets). . . . nope, nothing there. 

Which is the problem here.  OSC engages in a rant, an attack, an attempt at political analysis that is nothing but unsupported allegations, assertions without any supporting evidence whatsoever.  It‘s truly unfortunate. 

 

 

 

 

 

20 thoughts on “OSC, and the end of civilization

  1. Thanks for this, Eric! OSC is one of my oldest friends – and I’m gay. He has always been there for me. When I was directing at Snow Camp, NC, my show about the underground railroad, was in dire need of costumes. Scott ponied up and paid for professional quality costumes for the entire cast of over fifty actors. He did it without thinking and at a time when money did not come so easily as it does now for him. I was on a panel with him years ago and he prepped me by saying, “They only pay attention if you’re outrageous.” We were and the audience loved it. While there is no doubt that he and I totally differ on gay rights related issues, I think some of his old advice has come home to bite him on the ass. Even now as my son is working on placing his first (excellent) novel, it has been Scott who has been there for him. My family will be in line for the first IMax showing of Ender’s Game. And it happens that I’m directing his modernization of Shakespeare’s “Taming of the Shrew” which opens the same weekend. — Jerry

  2. A Constitutional professor? B.S. That fable has already been dis-proven, even by the University itself. He was a guest speaker now and then, nothing more. And it is no secret he is a narcissistic Communist and lied about being a Christian. His actions alone support that, but even Communist Party leaders verify he was their candidate. Explain to me how Obama always manages to use the Socialist website slogans as his own campaign slogans? Hope and Change, Forward….if he ran another term, it would be the identical thing again. When he ran for Illinois Senate, the radio was even then saying he was the most socialist of all the candidates. I heard it myself. He has done nothing but racially divide us and weaken our nation at home and in the eyes of the world. Those are facts you can’t eliminate with your rose-colored glasses. And if you really understood the Plan of Salvation and the Lord’s intent for us, you would know that while we must have our agency, we also cannot choose the natural outcome of those choices–they are what they are–I.E., homosexuality vs. eternal progression and progeny. Wake up to reality. Your Matrix illusion may be comforting, but it is not healthy.

  3. According to Factcheck.org, Barack Obama was a senior lecturer in Constitutional law at the University of Chicago. The Law School says that they ask all students to refer to lecturers as ‘professor,’ and that while he did not attain professorial status, it’s completely above-board for him to call himself ‘a professor of Constitutional law.’ The allegation that he ‘was a guest speaker now and then’ is factually inaccurate.
    As for Obama being ‘a communist,’ sorry, you’re just wrong about that too. If he is, in fact, a socialist, he’s a spectacularly unsuccessful one, given current corporate profits. The record is clear–he’s a pro-business moderate, always was, always is.

    • A pro-business moderate?! Exactly which Obama policy would you say is pro-business? And by pro-business we don’t mean government bailouts and subsidized industries. That’s crony capitalism, not free enterprise. And there’s nothing moderate about socializing 15% of the nation’s economy by seizing control of the entire medical industry against the will of the people; perhaps the most devastating policy to business and to the American worker the US has ever seen. Nor are annual deficits of a trillion dollars or more for 5 consecutive years moderate. The record IS clear. There’s nothing pro-business or moderate about Barack Hussein Obama. Despite OSC’s over the top rhetoric, he is factually more correct than his critics.

      • Uh, seizing control of the entire medical industry? Really? A little hyperbole there. Also, check corporate profits the last four years. Hard to reconcile with your fantasy of a ‘socialist’ president. As for the deficits, have you forgotten that our nation’s economy came within an inch of completely collapsing in 2008? So compare Obama’s track record to, say, David Cameron’s. Starting from essentially the same point, our recovery has been much more substantial, our unemployment rate much lower, our businesses far more robust than those of nearly every other major country facing the same crisis. Those are the facts, and they are not in dispute.

        • Someday you really must tell me what oracle you get your “undisputed facts” from.

          Especially when they so often contradict what I’m reading out there every day from sources as varied as Glenn Back to the Washington Post and New York Times. At times you truly seem to be the only prophet in our society that really knows what’s going on.

          But hey, whatever, Obama is not a socialist. Fine with me. I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you call it socialism or fascism or cronyism or corporatism or just plain schoolyard bullying to achieve his goal of total statism over our lives. The only thing that matters to me is, that’s his goal, and among other things he’s violating the Constitution and our rights to accomplish it.

  4. Eric, this is one of the most reasoned (and reasonable) essays on OSC and Ender’s Game that I’ve seen yet. Thank you. I, too, will see Ender’s Game, because I’m not going to boycott anything based on its creator’s opinions. I wouldn’t boycott it because a gay guy wrote it, and I’m not going to boycott it because a guy who defends his religion vigorously against gay rights wrote it, even if we disagree on the politics involved. I, too, have benefitted from Scott’s largesse–he helped me get my first agent (his own agent) and through that connection, I published my first novel. He did that even though I KNOW he’s not happy with those of us who have left the church. In other words, his actions speak louder than his words, and no matter how outrageous or even hurtful those words may be, beneath the words is a man who, more often than not, is generous, kind, approachable and incredibly supportive. I love the man and always will, whether we agree about everything else or not.

  5. A great post, Eric!
    Seriously, sometime I think the young Orson Scott Card and the older Orson Scott Card are two totally different people. His older work, for the most part, is still my favorite.

    I also happened to just finish an essay on the Ender’s Game boycott, etc. Tell me what you think.

    Part One:

    http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2013/08/14/malice-towards-none-orson-scott-card-gay-marriage-and-the-enders-game-film-controversy-part-one/

    Part Two:

    http://difficultrun.nathanielgivens.com/2013/08/15/malice-towards-none-orson-scott-card-gay-marriage-and-the-enders-game-film-controversy-part-two/

  6. Great post Eric. I still don’t understand how the man who wrote “Songmaster” has become such a vociferous anti-gay campaigner. It makes me sad.

  7. Card has already admitted it–right in the article itself–that it was for fun and there was no way it would ever happen.

    Interesting that you admit to having the same demonizing “fantasies” over Bush, yet somehow feel superior over Card for doing it.

    The only problem with your “reasonable” approach is that it ignores reality. The fact is that Obama has perpetrate most every negative thing Bush started, then added a bunch of his own. That by sheer arithmetic puts him in a class above (below?) Bush in screwing things up.

    Frankly, Card’s speculative “McNaughton” scenario sounds plausible to me, in the sense that I could see this president doing the things Card predicts. As Card said, he’s already done things similar to what he’d need to do to pull of the scenario.

    But like Card, I also think it’s not likely to happen. I think. I hope.

    I guess we’ll get our first hint if Michelle gets the candicay for president instead of Hillary.

    • I grant that OSC was offering a speculative scenario. I admitted that upfront. Like you, though, he clearly takes it at least somewhat seriously. I get that; I did the same. Fantasies are harmless enough, as long as we retain that part of our brains that admits its just a fantasy. And this is.

      • I don’t see it as fantasy. I see it as plausible speculation that nevertheless has a small chance of playing out.

        I think the real issue here is that every aspect of Card’s scenario does not require anything to happen that I couldn’t see Obama doing, after watching his character for five years.

        It’s like seeing a spoof news story on the Internet, and because the wordl has gone so goofy these days, not being entirely sure it’s spoof.

  8. OSC (and some of the comments above) are empirical proof that accuracy & diversity in news media consumption is essential. (For an extreme example, see South Korea). The propensity for media intake feeding extreme viewpoints, mainly on the right in the US-due to certain wealthy individuals successfully creating conglomerates controlling much of tv news media-makes me worry about my fellow Saints. I enjoyed your thoughts!

    • Oh my God! The right controls the media? Can we at least remain in the realm of sanity in this discussion?

  9. Great post, thanks for sharing this. I was a little surprised at OSC’s comments, I was surprised and disappointed. The right wing has gone off the deep end, they are so blinded by their hatred for President Obama that facts don’t matter anymore. One of the most ironic things for me is that in my view President Obama acts too much like a Republican, he is hardly a Liberal. With the media and the internet the way that it is today people can insulate themselves and isolate so that all that they hear and read are opinions and ideas that they already generally agree with. I never would have thought that OSC was part of the right wing Glenn Beck style crazy, his own words suggest that he is, unfortunate….

  10. Eric,

    I always enjoy your posts. I have almost come to hate reading the comments. One thing that living in Oregon insulates me from, is interacting with “Saints” who are Glen Beck devotees, or who consider anything besides FOX news as biased.

    My son asked to start reading Ender’s Game, as our joint reading book, to get ready to see the movie. I have never met OSC, and while at one time I thought I would want to, I don’t think that the questions I wanted to ask, mean much after his recent political writing. These days, I too find it hard to see the OSC who I thought I had some insight into. (I have read every book and short story he has ever written.) I was certainly happier admiring the man of my imagination, but as I reread Ender’s Game, I also recognize that it could only be written by a man more complicated than I could conjure up at 12 years old.

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