Thursday, September 10, 2015

How PC Can You Be?

A white and apparently quite good poet, Michael Derrick Hudson, from Fort Wayne Indiana (home of WOWO Radio) was attempting, without success, to get a poem published.

Then he became Chinese.

It was accepted for print and acclaimed as one of the best American poems for 2015. Without qualification. After forty publication rejections.

Now anyone who has aced a calculus course yet struggled thru a semester of lit knows how subjective, how touchy-feely the dark arts of literature can be. And none more so than poetry. So it comes as no surprise that what one subjective grader deems literary garbage is found by another to be a rare delicacy. But this change in acclaim correlates so strongly with the choice of a nom de plume (and a hyphenated-american one at that) as to border on causality that it has raised more than a few eyebrows.

For many this is just another example of Political Correctness run amok and perhaps it is. For others it suggests what they've long suspected (rightly or wrongly) that the bar for the select, the hyphenated is hardly even a tripping hazard while the white guy's hurdle is so high Fosbury couldn't flop over it. It does seem to speak to a pervasive PC culture that dictates outcomes on almost any criteria but merit. But this is nothing new.

One need only compare To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman. The former, an American Classic, is indeed a masterpiece whilst the latter seems a bit of a patchwork with gaps, weaker plot and character development, tho there are shining moments of the quality of writing that appears throughout TKAM. Is that the real or only difference? Does it fully explain why GSAW was rejected whilst TKAM ran the gauntlet of the publishing process? Were GSAW given the same attention, the same editorial support, subjected to the same review and revision as TKAM where would the real differences appear?

Perhaps it is more about the stories being told, when they were being told and to whom they were told. Perhaps the publishers at the time did not approve of the theme in GSAW whilst that of TKAM resonated with their views and aligned with their agenda even while some reviewers today, including African-Americans, claim GSAW is a more accurate depiction of the times in which it is set.

Is the problem with those of us raised in a PC society, a group taught to adore an elevated Atticus, that we simply cannot entertain that he might have been nobly dedicated to the process of law but not the delivery of justice? Does that shatter the righteousness they wished to be promoted when publishers deferred on one and selected the other? Do we need to be bitch-slapped out of our pollyannish political correctness and poured three fingers of reality?