1. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    Too Controversial to write? (White supremacy)?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by chacotaco91, Jul 4, 2011.

    Hi everyone.

    I'm currently writing on and off chapters (almost like test chapters) of a conceptualized world. It takes place and a semi-distant America, embroiled in a race war similar in ferocity to the ethnic conflicts that devastated such places as Bosnia, Sudan, and South Africa.

    I have three main characters that I haven't quite materialized yet. I also haven't completely figured out how their paths will intertwine either. So far they are:

    -A chinese AID worker in California.
    -A prostitute in San Francisco.
    -A Soldier for a white supremacist group fighting and killing across the eastern United States.

    As you can tell, the third would be hardly considered politically correct.

    Throughout the chapters I've written he uses extensive derogatory language (nigger, chink etc, some terms I made up as it is a future fictional world).

    He is consistently involved in combat with armed forces representing other ethnic groups as well as atrocities against their civilians.

    There are many chapters in which he justifies his actions through certain political dialogue with himself (or to the reader) and to other characters. In order to do this, I've looked up a lot of white supremacist literature (both modern and old), to develop the arguments. It is not re-hashed ideas from Nazism; I wanted them to seem real and pertinent to America, and most of all something that would make someone think.

    As you can tell, the only reason I would write an apocalyptic story like this is if I had reservation about the state of ethnic relations in the United States. I wanted this to show my pessimistic side towards many aspects of today's American society and their possible consequences. These aspects are: political correctness, affirmative action, racial identification in media, sympathetic racism, black crime rate, Angry White Male phenomenon, etc.....

    I want to use my very bad fictional world as a warning to the trends of our society today. (just like how many thousands of writers already do?)

    The Problem:

    It seems that anytime you try to portray a white supremacist as not a mad-raving lunatic bad guy, you're considered an ardent sympathizer. Hell, even if you show interest in white supremacy, even scholarly, people secretly harbor thoughts that you believe in all of their tenets.

    Say I actually wrote something good enough to be publishable. Would a publisher hold something like fears of being consider a white-supremacist sympathizer if they were to pick up the book?

    Do you personally believe it is possible for there to be a character who's soul is good but commits acts of terrible evil due to forces beyond his control? (A concept I find possible)

    Sorry if this question seems somewhat ephemeral. I'm curious as to yall's opinion on the political backdrop of the book, and the idea of the evil but relatable main character.
    -Thanks
     
  2. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    This recalls to mind American History X, which showed the dark underbelly and the misguided logic of white supremacy groups. It also managed to have a sympathetic character. I highly recommend watching this movie before fully fleshing out your main character. It might give you a few ideas of how to make your audience simultaneously dislike what a character does, yet sympathize with the "nurture" forces outside his control as well as the group pressure and "prestige highs" of white supremacy.
     
  3. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    I was going to say pretty much the same thing. American History X was the first thing I thought of when I saw this thread. Checking the movie out would definitely be a big help, I think.

    Also, I wouldn't assume that taking a scholarly interest in white supremacy would lead people to assume anything negative about you. My husband has studied it, and I don't know of anyone who thinks he's some kind of neo-Nazi.
     
  4. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    Well, I should probably specify that if you were to say: interview white supremacists, or go to their rallies just out of curiosity, you'd likely raise the eyebrows of your peers with a sudden fascination of the white supremacy movement.

    Also, in my entirety college career, concepts of white supremacy are never studied in the same sort of level-headed manner given to other political or social philosophies (Communism, religion, capatalism, etc). I feel most people simply classify nazis/skinheads/white supremacists as "the bad guys, no need for further study." I'm curious as to where your husband studied! I sometimes feel African-American studies is half my schools curriculum.

    American History X is one of my favorite movies, but I should mention as well that this takes place in a future in which my character is born into a race war. That is, while a W.Supremacist in our times chose an ideology that is hardly considered popular, my character was basically born into this kind of thinking as the conflict has reached the levels of "us or them".

    thanks for the input
     
  5. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    I would say if the racism isn't just simply gratuitous then you shouldn't need to worry at all. In the context of your post you make very clear you're working to a desired outcome, there's a point to what you're doing, so there's no need to worry.
     
  6. hiddennovelist
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    hiddennovelist Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^Truth.

    My husband didn't study it in college, but he's researched and read a lot about it.
     
  7. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    NEVER CENSOR!
    Never be afraid to write about a topic for fear of "political correctness". 2 points to add.

    1. A well written and well thought out character *should* be coherent and rational, as no decent villian thinks of themselves as such. Even Manson and Bundy thought themselves to be the "hero" of their own life story. So no matter what language or actions he is taking they would be thought of as normal, or acceptable to this character (or else he wouldn't be doing them). If he accepts a different life path at the end, then show the thought patterns changing through out, but don't censor his beginning views to make it "PC"

    2. I have the 1st amendment on coasters and posters on my wall. Every writer (or former journalist here) should bleed this amendment and NEVER forget that it impacts EVERYTHING. If your material is offensive to some (and it sounds like it will be.) Then they won't be your audience, and don't pander to them. No good writer has become a legendary writer by being unwilling to "offend" sects of society. They always pushed the boundaries for their time and age, they in turn suffered the consquences and history loves them for it. Don't let your ideas be contained by the here and now, write a great story with great charcters and let the critics worry about how offended people will be.
     
  8. benfromcanada
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    benfromcanada Member

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    Firstly, why would you need to go to one of their rallies to research them? That's foolish on so many levels. These are violent people who often attract violent acts to themselves. Going to a white supremacist rally yields no more positive research into the movement than observing the internet, where they're more plentiful and active. Go to stormfront if you really want to learn about those hate mongers. Apparently they've cleaned it up some, but it was absolutely disgusting when I last saw it. VNN (Vanguard News Network) is another well trafficked one (comparatively...) But even then I'd be careful. Be armed with the facts, because they love trying to convert people, and if you believe their lies, it could happen.

    2: There's a very good reason that people don't speak of white supremacist groups in classrooms. They're a fringe group with nearly no support. Stormfront, the largest white racist message board on the internet, boasts a membership of 100,000 worldwide, except that a) it hasn't deleted any members who left the movement or who became non-racist, or who simply lost interest in organized hate and b) a large portion of that number are anti-racists and anti-fascists who signed up to debate and/or troll. When people are taught about important racist groups or ideologies in school, it's almost always a history lesson. Nazis don't exist anymore, neo-nazis are violent but few, the Ku Klux Klan hasn't existed as an entity for some time (the Ku Klux Klan formally disbanded in either the late 1960s or the early to mid 1970s. Now there are several KKKs that don't have the recognition as the "true" Klan. They're all small groups, are more likely to fight with rival Klans than anyone of value, and as the joke goes, half of them are probably undercover FBI agents anyway)

    3: My advice? Make sure to not make him too sympathetic or unsympathetic. Look at the TV show Dexter to see a character who perfectly straddles that line. There's no one who will see that and go "hey, you serial killers are all right!" but you can still sympathize with him to some degree. And yes, I know that first line was obvious. How do you do it? Show good traits in him, bad traits as well, show him doing evil AND good. You know, make him act like a real person. Give him a good personality, more or less, show him going above and beyond the call of duty to help his injured comrades get off the battlefield, then committing heinous war crimes. But show the good stuff first.
     
  9. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have one thing to say... Character Progression.

    If the character is a white supremacist, they should need to progress from that, at least a little bit. Alternatively, there is character regression, but that's less common and yields far less sympathy for the character. I mean, who cares about political correctness.

    *Insert joke about political correctness and Obama being in the White House* I joke, I joke! I assure you, I joke. Truly, I love Obama, even though he is a foreigner... to an Australian like me.

    Really, though, you just need to write it and focus on your character progressing. If they stay a white supremacist, and stay the same, the entire story, that's not progression.
     
  10. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    Research is research. Believe me I currently live in a *very* Red State, and I'm here to tell you the Dbags with jacked up tires on their truck and confederate flag in the back window are still out there and strong. I will fight to the death for their right to spew incompetence and hatred. It's the people who say things we disagree with that we should defend their rights even more.
     
  11. benfromcanada
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    benfromcanada Member

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    Matthew: having experienced racism from red-state-minded people, I can assure you I know racism exists. I specifically meant racial supremacy as seen in extremists like the Aryan Nations and the KKK. Support for lesser levels of racism will always exist, but the hardcore haters like those are the fringiest of the fringe, which is why their ideas are ignored while communism and such are not.
     
  12. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you show both sides of the argument equally, and if you, the author, can remain unbiased, then I don't think you should have a problem.

    It is a touchy subject though.
     
  13. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why? How is it relevant to me? Or do you think that only Americans should be allowed to write?

    Ok, that's slightly tongue in cheek but it's relevant because it shows how folks make potentially damaging racial or cultural assumptions without even noticing it.
     
  14. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    You should write whatever you want to write and as long as you do the research that you deem necessary to make the story the way you want it to be, I see no problems. You need to be true to the character. All this stuff about not being too sympathetic, not being sympathetic enough, quite frankly it's stifling and stunting. Create the character and be true to HIM. If you write it correctly YOU will disappear. The characters beliefs, difficulties, victories, will be HIS. People need to stop being so hung up what a publisher is going to think of YOU. They don't care about you, they care about the words on the page.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    To answer the question in the title of the thread - there is nothing too controversial to write these days.
     
  16. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unless it contradicts anything on this list, because then you're just plain wrong, and that's controversial.

    In Prey by Michael Crichton, there's a line about glass being a liquid, which I had to scoff at, even though, at the time, that's what was held to be true. Be aware of common misconceptions.
     
  17. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    It's also in the UN code of inaliable human rights. It is the foundation of all freedom and a unviersal truth regardless of national origin. My source citation my have been xenocentric, but the intent is certainly universal.
     
  18. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    Many people only see black and white (in a metaphorical sense) and their racial predjudices are included in those bubbles of existence. Just because the Klan doesn't rally and burn as many crosses doesn't mean they don't exist. They have merely changed tactics, as it is no longer deemed socially acceptable to drag a man through the streets of Duluth, MN and hang him for being black and being accused of a crime.

    Check out Wyoming's growing number of gun totting ethnocentric zealots, or France's policies regarding muslims, look at AZ new procedure's for checking green cards based on skin tone. Don't tell me these mindset's don't exist. They have simply found new ways of fanning their hatred, they simply use other group names like, "Wyoming's libertatrian army" or in AZ "Republican".

    Whatever you'd like to believe about these groups only being "fringe" is fine, but don't shut your eyes to the truth that these people are still out there, and still recruiting. I'm not talking about the 80-year-old who still calls brazil nuts something completely different.

    I'm talking about the xenophobes who can't stand the idea that anyone other than euro-american's deserve the economic, and social freedoms America has to offer. Their mentality of good v. evil on these issues are only propelled by the fury of slanted media, and politicians spouting the divisive rhetoric. The difference between your average "die-hard" politico who spouts and believes what they hear the muppets say on talk radio and your die hard KKK member is only circumstance, and opportunity. They share the exact same world view of black and white(metaphor), or good vs. evil.

    Tell me you don't see plenty of those types in the "non-fringe" world. Given the opportunity and correct set of circumstances would they not also be burning crosses, attending lynchings, or bombing towers...?
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    racists, bigots, hatemongers and terrorists all write and get published, too!... just as easily [often even more!] as anyone else... this should come as no surprise to anyone in today's world who can read...
     
  20. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    I lived in Georgia for most of my childhood, and the majority of my high school was black. Racial tension was something that was often felt, seen, but never openly discussed. Us "red-staters" most usual pet-peeve is the judgement passed on us by places possessing an almost 85%+ white populations. It is easy to hold no racist views when there isn't a single non-white in your whole town; the kind of people who will yell that they have "plenty of black friends" if ever judged as racist.

    Also, it seems from the little I've glossed over that many white-supremacists will call themselves "white-separatists." They don't claim, publicly at least, that they think of whites as superior, just separate. They seem to have this notion (which I'm not really sure how they expect to go about this) that the more we separate ourselves, and the more homogeneous we make ourselves racially in our towns and neighborhoods, the better the quality of our life will be. The first thing that comes to mind is Jim Crow, but they say that Jim Crow was segregation and not separation. As in, there wouldn't be white or black bathrooms: there just wouldn't ever be a place where a black and white would ever use the same restroom.

    It just seems to me that if racism is such a fringe phenomenon, why have literally millions across the entire span of the globe and all human history been so willing to participate in it? Sri Lanka, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Germany, Africa, America, Japan........ The list goes on. I want to explore this as much as I can and so would like yall's opinions.

    For instance, say the world around you crumbled and is beyond your control. It has crumbled along racial lines, that as a non-racist person would seem like a mega-tornado in its sudden, random and unfathomable destruction. An armed band from another ethnic group has come to kill/displace/rape you and your family.

    -Say they succeed, and you lived. Would you want revenge? Would you join a group that plans to do the same as them?

    -Say you joined your local defense to fight this group. Say you won. Would you want to do the same to them and their town? Say they you got prisoners: would you kill them knowing they had planned to kill your family? Could you be convinced that the only way to save yourselves in the long run is to preemptively kill them before they kill you?

    -Do you think that even the most ardent non-racist person would see the world along racial lines if he is constantly seen by others along racial lines?

    I know those are pretty dark questions, but I'm asking to imagine yourself in a very dark world. This is the kind of mind-set and thinking I'd like to write about, and I'm curious as to how you'd see yourself in this world and your opinion on how it might change you.
     
  21. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    The key to writing someone whose views are questionable by most of the population is by showing how they rationalize those views and the actions they take because of them. The fact of the matter is that I'm pretty sure I can rationalize damned near anything under the right stressors and the right circumstances. The craziest person you can think of thinks he's sane because he has REASONS for what he's doing. And it doesn't matter how any of those hypothetical situations would change us. It matters how they would change your character.
     
  22. benfromcanada
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    benfromcanada Member

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    You're right, Matthew, but I'd add the caveat that, for the most point, racists aren't as extreme nowadays.

    chaco, just how sympathetic towards racists and racism is this piece? This is a very telling line:
    Not only is it a logical fallacy (argumentum ad populum, look it up) but it also seems like you're thinking it's kind of good. That, and really most of your post, scares me. It also makes me wonder as to how good this project will be when finished. After all, the Turner Diaries was disgusting and poorly written garbage. Most propaganda is at least poorly written, not all of it is as horror-inducing as that book. If this is truly about making us think about stuff, well, you've stacked the deck, so to speak, and I don't think I can adequately answer your hypothetical questions.

    As for your situation, well, Georgia was worse to its non-white people than, say, Canada was. While our natives and whites do have some tension, racism is much less prevalent here, and we're pretty close to as multi-ethnic as your country. As a First Nations/native myself, I can say that not all of us are bitter towards white people for that whole genocide thing, and I get along well with people of other ethnicities. It's a historical thing, really. Hell, there are even more multi-ethnic countries with less racism. Brazil and India are the examples I use most often, though they have class and (in India) religious tension that rivals American ethnic tension.

    The fact is, we have plenty of literature on divisions in general. I'd suggest you look up some books on class warfare, and on religious divisions. Might be interesting. And if you are a racist, well...
     
  23. MatthewR
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    MatthewR Member

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    Yeah... that is a bit scary line of thinking. I don't blame guns for killing people I blame the person holding it. Same goes for racial violence. The person is flawed not their skin tone. I don't think anything could change that for me.

    BUT,

    I still adamently defend you're right to write or say whatever you want.
     
  24. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    And so it begins.....

    I changed the wording of what you quoted, as it wasn't exactly what I was trying to say.

    And for this ad populum seems quite poignant for something like racism. The common argument of many others is that it is something reserved for a minority fringe, and thus not justified, when in fact racism historically has been mass movements and opinions within a society.

    Canada, which you think is generally racism free, is the kind of place that interests me. What many don't know is that Jewish-German intermarriages were at their peak in Germany only years before the Nazis took power.

    In Sri-Lanka in say, 1950, the tamil and Sinhalese populations were much more civilized and peaceful toward one another than say the american white and black were toward each-other in 1950. However, American black-white relations were vastly better than Sinhalese and Tamil relations in 2005.

    What I'm pointing at is it seems that racism can encroach randomly, even when everything seems peachy.

    This is the reason why I'm asking everyone these questions: the vast majority of people will tell me that they are in fact not-racist if I were to ask them. It is to my curiosity as to whether everyone is merely denying something we all possess; that we are in all fact racist and programmed to think racially.
     
  25. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I wish it was racism-free. We Canadians are good at hiding their flaws. It's the reason why the Americans look so bad; we appear boring and polite (though that did change recently after the Vancouver riots and, on a much smaller scale, the rude welcome the Duke and Duchess received from a vocal minority of nationalists in Quebec). The truth is that racism is still a big problem here. Natives are still treated poorly (the Oka Crisis) and linguistic racism is running rampant both inside and outside of Quebec. We have places like Calgary that welcome people like Ann Coulter with open arms and we have political parties like the Bloc Quebecois that are focused on breaking up the country for the sake of preserving French-Canadian culture.

    Trust me, we're far from racism-free; however, every country has race problems. Where there is change, there is fear. It's in our nature to be fearful of the unknown, but it is also our duty as (mostly) rational human beings to learn from the unknown and truly assess it, inside and out.
     

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