Given my conservative frame of mind, fiction that bucks today’s politically correct dogma attracts me like Paris Hilton to the paparazzi’s flash. So when David Forsmark provides a short list of “Politically Incorrect Fiction” I am incapable of not clicking the link. What I found forced me to ask myself, ‘Am I putting politics above a good story?’
Forsmark’s list includes novels by Joseph Wambaugh, Alex Berenson, Robert Crais, Steve Hamilton, Michael Crichton, and Steven Hunter. The inclusion of Hunter’s I, Sniper is what made me question my motives when it comes to what fiction I choose to read.
Consider this excerpt from I, Sniper, included in Forsmark’s list:
“The narrative is the set of assumptions the press believes in, possibly without even knowing that it believes in them. It’s so powerful because it’s unconscious. It’s not like they get together every morning and decide ‘these are the lies we tell today.’ No, that would be too crude and honest. Rather, it’s a set of casual non-rigorous assumptions about a reality they’ve never really experienced that’s arranged in such a way as to reinforce their best and most ideal presumptions about themselves and their importance to the system and the way they’ve chosen to live their lives. It’s their way of arranging things a certain way what they all believe in without ever really addressing it carefully. It permeates their whole culture. They know, for example, that Bush is a moron and Obama a saint. They know Communism was a phony threat cooked up by right-wing cranks as a way to leverage power to the executive. They knowSaddam didn’t have weapons of mass destruction, the response to Katrina was f—-ed up, torture never works, and mad Vietnam sniper Carl Hitchcock killed the saintly peace demonstrators. Cheney’s a devil, Biden’s a genius. …The story was somewhat suspiciously concocted exactly to their prejudices, just as Jayson Blair’s made-up stories and Dan Rather’s Air National Guard documents were. And the narrative is the bedrock of their culture, the keystone of their faith, the altar of their church. They don’t even know they’re true believers, because in theory they despise the true believer in anything. But they will absolutely de-frackin-stroy anybody who makes them question all that. …”
I love a good novel for the same reason I love a good film; both give me a break from my mundane everyday life while also shedding light on an aspect of reality beneath today’s dogmatic ideology. This passage from Hunter’s book, however, does the exact opposite of what I’d like a good story to do. Instead of taking me out of my mundane and ideological reality, it drives my face ever deeper into it.
As James Bowman put it, “it is the job of art not to promote some rival ideology but to clear ideology away in order to expose the reality beneath.” As much as I might disagree with Mr. Bowman on other matters, on this he is absolutely correct.
So now I have to ask: Is the Right, myself included, falling into the same pit in which reside so many on the Left? In other words, are we privileging politics over story when selecting our entertainment?