Freedom of speech is a touchy thing. It really is. Let’s look at its wording:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
So what this says is . . . ‘Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.’
This means you will not go to jail for what you say. Mostly. You’re still not allowed to incite violent or be complicit in an illegal act because illegal shit is illegal (example: freedom of speech does not protect you from yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater because of the direct bodily harm that statement can cause to others).
What that doesn’t say is you have the right to say whatever you want, whenever you want, without repercussions.
And political correctness?
agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people
What this says is stop being an insensitive prick and remove your brain from 1954 when segregation was a thing, women belonged on their backs popping out babies, and the white man was rightfully on top.
What being politically correct isn’t is an affront to your way of life because the people of the world today are too sensitive. Nah. People of the world today are just sick of your shit and are saying so.
So where am I actually going with this? How about a Nazi romance? Namely FOR SUCH A TIME by Kate Breslin:
In 1944, blonde hair and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself? (goodreads.com)
Let that sink in for a moment if it hasn’t already since this news is about a weekish old. This isn’t about two Nazis, or two Jews finding each other in the camps a la Jane Yolen’s THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC. This is an Aryan-looking Jewish woman (not contesting the looks as blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jews are more common than what I think a lot of people think) falling in love with the Commandant of the concentration camp she’s currently held prisoner in and who converts to Christianity for him after finding solace in the Bible.
Let . . . let me break that down for you again: Jewish prisoner held at Theresienstadt (where more than 33,000 people died and was used as a transfer station to send prisoners to death camps (wiki)), the backdrop of said romance, falls in love with the Commandant of the camp. Not a German soldier, not a lower-ranking Nazi soldier working to fell the reich from the inside. The Commandant (whose job it is to help enact The Final Solution and exterminate her people). She finds solace in the New Testament and then converts for her genocidal lover.
If your head hasn’t exploded yet, I’m surprised.
Now I’m not saying the book shouldn’t exist (maybe a little) but this is the kind of drecht that should have been relegated to the bowels of self-publishing where only the Aryan nation has access to it. Instead it went through multiple layers of vetting and editing and publishing and then was nominated for two RITA awards before anyone was like UM . . . WTF IS THIS? And it wasn’t the people on the publishing side of this book who were like wait a minute . . .
Now Bethany House Publishing, this book’s publisher, and the likes of Anne Rice, are supporting this book under the guise of freedom of speech and the world being too butthurt for its own good.
You can go ahead and say and write and publish whatever the hell you want. That does not prevent other people from getting royally pissed the fuck off for being completely misrepresented by someone who isn’t a part of their culture. When you have a white, Christian women writing about Jewish erasure in the guise of a romance with the Holocaust as a romantic backdrop, if she doesn’t accurately portray people of a different faith and instead just erases it for the safe of Jesus she should rightly get shit for it (this book is a Biblical retelling, which I’m wholly ignorant of, which is why it’s gone largely unmentioned here). As an artist you don’t get to just fling around racial stereotypes or convert the “worthy” Jews to Christianity because that’s where the comfort is (right next to the blood-coated arms of a Commandant lover) and get away with it.
This isn’t about being politically correct; it’s about not being an asshole. It’s doing your duty as a writer that if you’re going to write about someone you’re not you need to do the due diligence to get it right, not do with it what you will and cry FIRST AMENDMENT when people get angry. It’s not about people being too sensitive; it’s about people being tired of that shit and not tolerating it anymore. Because when someone says the world has gotten too politically correct, what they mean is their panties are in a twist because they can’t spew their bigoted, racist vitriol anymore and get away with it.
It’s really not shocking that a book like this got published. What is shocking is that it got nominated by the be-all, end-all of romance organizations for one of the highest awards in romance land. Well, at least it didn’t win, some people say. That carries about as much solace as, ‘well at least it was only 6 million Jews who died, not 7 million. Right along those lines.
This world is more than white Christian and when white Christians practice ethnic and religious erasure and get away with it it’s detrimental to society as a whole. You are not the whole world, guys. You’re really not. You’re not being persecuted; your faith isn’t being questioned. People are just sick of your shit and aren’t going to take it anymore. Now we need to get those in positions to effect these kinds of changes to get on it and become more aware of the world beyond the white Christian one. There’s no excuse for this book. None. It’s not subtle undertones that went over people’s heads. It was a Jew falling in love with a genocidal commandant and converting to Christianity for him.
And to those who say that anyone can find redemption in love, I’ll say you’ll have a hard time convincing me that someone responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people is worthy of redemption. He’s a commandant. He’s not just a soldier following orders. He’s a commander reveling in the eradication of a race of people. And he’s the romantic love interest.