An anonymous commenter to my previous post (thank you, Sir or Ma'am!) left a link to a Los Angeles Times op-ed piece by Jared Diamond titled 'America needs to study the enemy within'. Here's an excerpt.
... we have become stuck in political gridlock. Our citizens are split by deep disagreements about basic economic, social and political issues, including government interventions, immigration, investment in education and infrastructure, and inequality of income and opportunity. Our economy is decidedly sluggish.
Meanwhile, our politicians have been increasingly unwilling or unable to craft compromises. The most recent Congress passed fewer laws than any Congress in decades. Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill couldn't agree even on matters that should have been noncontroversial, such as funding the Federal Aviation Administration and confirming the nominations of judges and second-level government officers. And American democracy is being eroded by partisan measures aimed at preventing registration or voting by citizens likely to prefer the other party, and by massive distortion of elections by big money.
. . .
We Americans today are focused on the wrong threats to American democracy. We are obsessed with threats from overseas: from terrorists and Islamist extremists, and from other countries. But realistically, while terrorists and Islamists and other countries will continue to cause trouble for us, the chance of their ending American democracy is nil. The only real threat to American democracy comes from Americans themselves. If our politicians continue to yield to pressure from extremists not to compromise and remain mired in gridlock, the majority of decent Americans may in frustration come to view an authoritarian government as the only solution to political gridlock — as a lesser evil that has to be tolerated.
There's more at the link.
The author basically echoes, in the broader political sphere, the argument I've been making concerning the Hugo Awards controversy. Neither side is willing to listen to the other; neither is willing to concede that the other might have at least some elements of truth in what it says; and neither is willing to concede an inch of ground. We have two dogs barking across a fence at each other, each secure in defending what it sees as its territory. Take away the fence, and bloodshed is likely to result.
This is no way for civilized people to behave . . . but civilized standards are being and have been eroded on both sides. Those of us who've seen what happens under such circumstances have, I think, more than a little cause to be concerned about the future of science fiction and fantasy, if not in the wider sphere as well. It's even visible in the comments to my previous post, where one commenter persisted in saying that I'd said or implied something that absolutely is not present in my words. He could not or would not read them as they stood, but insisted on interpreting them through the 'filters' of his own perspectives, prejudices and perceptions. One can't argue with that. It's like a man looking at the world through a set of red lenses. When you say "Clouds are white", he responds "No, they're not - they're red". Unless he's willing to take off those lenses and see facts as they really are, you won't persuade him that what he perceives is, in fact, wrong. There's a lot of that going around at the moment in the Hugo debate.
Some argue that if one side won't compromise, there's no point in the other side being 'gentlemanly' or courteous or civilized, because such approaches won't be reciprocated. Rather, the other side must respond just as forcefully (if not more so) in order to overcome resistance to its 'legitimate demands'. To them I can only say, look at human history in any sphere you like: academic, literary, cultural, economic, political, military, whatever. When such attitudes prevail, breakdown and destruction tend to take over. What is lost - often irretrievably - is some, if not all, of the good that existed prior to the breakdown. The baby is thrown out with the bathwater. The good is destroyed along with the bad.
I'm trying very hard to prevent that happening here. I fear it may be a losing battle . . . but that doesn't mean it's not worth the effort. I only wish some of the more partisan elements in this debate could see it that way. In the end, if things come to a showdown and I have no choice but to choose a side, I'll go with those with whom I have the most in common. That will be my friend Larry Correia and the 'Sad Puppies' campaign that he started, because I believe Larry was (and remains) correct in his analysis of the problem and his attempts to restore balance to the field. However, I'll mourn for the good on both sides that will be undone or destroyed in the resulting conflict. The field of science fiction and fantasy as a whole will be the big loser.
I won't write any more about the issue at present. I've said what I believed needed to be said. Now it's up to those on both sides to decide whether they're going to go to the mattresses, or behave like civilized people. If anyone isn't sure who needs to take the first step in that process . . . look in the mirror.