Love or hate Donald Trump, he has single-handedly busted the bounds of political correctness. Whether acknowledged or not, this is a healthy event for all writers.
Political correctness smacks too much of the “crimethink” of George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. The corrective in that fictional totalitarian society was “crimestop,” or self-editing. Self-censorship. One suspects too many writers today engage in this—which leaves us with a bland, uncontentious literature.
The noteworthy aspect of the Trump candidacy IS his outspoken speech. He’s a politician who’s almost completely uninhibited; his words unfiltered. Often outrageous; sometimes offensive. This is the main reason Trump has generated extreme partisanship both for and against him. In other words, we have an election which in a large way is about speech.
Lining up against The Donald, predictably, is the status quo literary scene, as shown in the "Writers on Trump" petition. This is the voice of the apparatus—of writers of the academy, of “Big 5” New York conglomerate publishing; of their followers and fans.
Do the petitioners believe what they say about “principled disagreement” and “reasoned debate”? As a test, I’ve sent seven questions to the group’s general email, and to the two individuals who began the petition, Mark Slouka and Andrew Altschul. I’ll notify readers of this blog if I receive a response.
1.) Are there any valid reasons-- trade, jobs, wages-- for working people including some writers to support Donald Trump?
2.) Is Donald Trump's perspective at all a valid viewpoint-- or are his ideas unacceptable?
3.) Isn't the chief problem petitioners have with Donald Trump his words and language?
4.) Should Trump supporters be labelled as racists, sexists, and xenophobes?
5.) Is your petition an expression of a herd mentality? Isn't that its intent?
6.) Given the cumulative influence and power of the writers on your list, wouldn't it be difficult for any ambitious writer to publicly oppose the petition viewpoint?
7.) In your minds, is the issue closed-- or should the matter be open to debate?