I’m not woke by any stretch. Not because I hate [whatever], I just don’t particularly like the methods behind it. The fact that Mark Twain, that most awesome of writers, has been attacked for at least a century by well-meaning whites on behalf of others, shows how wrong etiquette can go.
I was reading Live and Let Die by Ian Flemming. I got a bunch of Bond books on discount. James Bond was a lot darker and more realistic in the books. Flemming came from WW2 and was writing in the very real Cold War. But he was also an upper crust Brit and reading him reminds me how far we’ve come.
Chapter 5 of the book had the title of, Nigger Heaven. This was 1953/4. It was not written as a Tarantino-esque cool barb. It was not even written in the Deep South style of institutionalized racism, which can somewhat be forgiven if that’s all anyone knows. This was a toffee Brit writing about “Negresses,” and it’s painful to read. Because he knows what he’s doing…to an extent. The times he tries to show he’s open-minded it comes across incredibly conceited. He repeatedly attempts to mimic black Harlem slang and it’s about as spot on as me attempting to figure skate.
So, yeah. I’m glad we’ve progressed beyond this stuff. Not only is it pretty offensive, it’s just stupid. Because he clearly didn’t research what he was writing about, likely because he didn’t care. I don’t think these books should be censored or stamped out. There’s still good writing underneath the misfires. And if nothing else, it reminds us what society was and how it operated not that long ago.