Say Their Name

Everybody is excited over this post by Chimamanda Adichie but I don’t like it. It begins with some utterly trivial, catty complaints about former fans who overstepped their bounds. You don’t even have to be all that famous to have a litany of stories like this to tell. Making a big deal out of them publicly is kind of pathetic. Yes, people will try to use you to advance themselves. Welcome to the human race.

The part that everybody is gushing over is not that great either. Chimamanda never says who these “people” she is criticizing are:

People who ask you to ‘educate’ yourself while not having actually read any books themselves, while not being able to intelligently defend their own ideological positions, because by ‘educate,’ they actually mean ‘parrot what I say, flatten all nuance, wish away complexity.’ People who do not recognize that what they call a sophisticated take is really a simplistic mix of abstraction and orthodoxy – sophistication in this case being a showing-off of how au fait they are on the current version of ideological orthodoxy. People who wield the words ‘violence’ and ‘weaponize’ like tarnished pitchforks. People who depend on obfuscation, who have no compassion for anybody genuinely curious or confused. Ask them a question and you are told that the answer is to repeat a mantra. Ask again for clarity and be accused of violence. 

Who are these “people”? What is the name of their ideological orthodoxy? Without any specificity in this description, the very “people” Chimamanda is trying to criticize are going to use her words to clobber their opponents.

This is not a both-sides issue. There is one side with the power and the license to destroy people for disagreeing. It’s the left, the Democrats, the “Democratic Socialists.” Let’s stop pretending that these are just some “people” that spontaneously sprout in the most unexpected places. There’s a very concrete political force that produces this behavior. And it counts on our terrified, embarrassed silence to stay in power.

2 thoughts on “Say Their Name

  1. I don’t disagree, but I think there’s some good reason to be optimistic with this post. She’s been hosed for her support of JK Rowling, and as sad as this is to say, her Nigerian background means that she’s immune from certain criticisms. The same thing happened with Margaret Atwood when she called for due process, re: the completely Orwellian kangaroo court that Canadian writer Steven Galloway suffered through. How can you accuse the author of The Handmaids Tale of being a hater of women and a rape apologist?

    On a related note, there are two ticking time bombs for the woke left that have been in various stages of exploding. The first, of course, is the trans issue. The second is CRT in school’s, and the pushback of parents (and also how obviously against the interest of parents the teacher’s unions are). What’s interesting about both, and what I think makes both of these different, is that the force opposing the woke bullshit is led by women, and women who self-identify as liberal. Not to get all ‘let’s use gender stereotypes for everything,’ but if there’s one class of people that you don’t want to fuck with, in any species, it’s a mother coming to the defence of their children.

    I didn’t read any of Adichie’s original comments about the trans stuff; I’ve just read JK Rowling’s, which I recall centers on women, and motherhood, and the safety of children.

    Anyway. Shower musings. Thanks for bringing this one to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aimee for the win! lumpenpmc is the best word coinage of 2021 I think….

    Liked by 1 person

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