Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jim Webb's Novels

I haven't read Jim Webb's novels, nor do I intend to. They don't sound particularly interesting to me.

But the attacks on his work by George Allen and conservative bloggers is insane.

First, it's clear from all of this that a huge amount of Americans don't care about reading at all. Hardly surprising, it's a classic example of the anti-intellectualism in American life that Richard Hofstadter wrote about so many decades ago. People are attacking him because he writes fiction. God bless America.

Worse though are the nature of the attacks. To quote one critic, "Mr. Webb had total control over which words he wrote into his book. He chose to write about the basest sexual acts rather than use the books as an opportunity to present something which was uplifting or illuminating."

God forbid people actually write about sex. Because of course no one had sex during the Vietnam War--women were treated like the Virgin Mary and everyone lived good moral Christian lives. Or maybe not.

Not only is this another examples of conservatives hating sex, but it also demonstrates a complete misunderstanding about the role of art in society and a desire to fabricate history in order to present a pleasurable past for Christians.

Jim Webb's books are about Vietnam. People had sex in Vietnam. Sometimes women weren't treated well. Webb is writing about this in a fictional way. This is what fiction is supposed to do.

I'm not sure what disturbs me more--that so many people are stupid enough to believe this or that the smart, often fiction-reading, people who are promoting Allen's attacks are so base to use this against Webb. Disgusting.