Category Archives: islamophobia

-Isms in Sci-Fi: Take #1,896

I spent sometime this weekend worrying a little over my review of Empress up at Fantasy Magazine because of my calling out the race issues. It’s that same old conflicted feeling of: #1 yes this stuff should be called at but #2 I do want to work in this industry someday so will my being so vocal hinder my chances. I occasionally have bouts of this and then blow it off because talking about these issues are so important, everywhere in SF and in other spaces. This time however the feeling popped up while I was hanging out with my friend bankuei on Saturday. When I voiced my concerns he said something that crystallized everything for me, paraphrased here:

“Those people who would reject you because of what you say weren’t gonna buy your fiction anyway.”

Now on the heels of this comes the exposure of a rejection letter sent by Helix editor William Sanders which is full of such bigotry that it makes my head spin. I’m gonna quote part of what my homegirl Tempest quoted of it over at her blog:

I’m impressed by your knowledge of the Q’uran and Islamic traditions. (Having spent a couple of years in the Middle East, I know something about these things.) You did a good job of exploring the worm-brained mentality of those people – at the end we still don’t really understand it, but then no one from the civilized world ever can – and I was pleased to see that you didn’t engage in the typical error of trying to make this evil bastard sympathetic, or give him human qualities.

(whole letter also here*)

Wow! Really?
And I didn’t even quote the part about “them” (Muslims) being incapable of honesty and sheet-heads. Will WIlliam be called out for his racism/religious intolerance?
Possibly.
In the SF/F community you never really know and more than likely if he is called out it will be a slap on the wrist that’s forgotten by most in a couple of months, except by everyone who saw the letter and was horribly offended and hurt but they don’t really count anyway, do they? Bad behavior in the SF/F community often blows up into a huge stink, then the perpetrator offers a prefunctory (and often false) apology and no lasting consequences are placed on the him. So others get the notion that they can continue/start their own horrible behavior with no problems. I’m thinking specifically of the Connie Willis/Harlan Ellison instance but there are plenty other examples that float through my mind.

If these folks can continue to spew this racist, sexist, classist, -ist bullshit then I can continue to call it out.

*Here you’ll also get to see Sanders attempt to defend himself {anonymous}, I find his calling of the letter poster “son” patronizing as hell but that’s just me. Also as an editor he should know that words are key if he’s talking about extremists/terrorists mentioning the Q’uran and referencing “those people” was a very bad choice on his part because it focuses it on Muslims unless he’s assuming all terrorists are Muslims or vice-versa. Plus like phrases like “those people” and “civilized world” (which puts a place to the bigotry and makes it seem about race as well as religion) send alarm bells up for anyone with the least amount of anti-oppression training

Also see author/managing editor of Helix Lawrence Watt-Evans {livejournal user lwe} try to justify the letter by saying it’s not racial, it’s religious. Which makes it okay?? Because religious intolerance is so much better than racial intolerance?

That argument ignores the connections made between Islam and brown people throughout the last millenia. Also his argument that Islam is sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic points to a complete lack of understanding of Islam, because there are extremists in all religions that are sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic. We always talk about the extreme religious right in the US but I guess they aren’t as bad? But I’m blanking on why…

This argument also points to a pretty large misunderstanding of Islam and the fact that within the religion there’s much discussion on tradition versus religiously required practice with many advocates calling for the end to honor killings and other practices seen as horrible by those within the religion. Islam is not a monolith, just like race is not a monolith. Oops! There I go connecting race and religion again.

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