Orson Scott Card’s Alternate Future

I don’t care for Orson Scott Card’s stance on gay marriage or gay rights, but he is an excellent writer. Dave Weigel over at Slate has a good example: a political column from last May. It is truly a masterpiece of breathless right-wing paranoia.

Take this chunk, first Card’s writing followed by Weigel’s commentary:

Obama is, by character and preference, a dictator. He hates the very idea of compromise; he demonizes his critics and despises even his own toadies in the liberal press. He circumvented Congress as soon as he got into office by appointing “czars” who didn’t need Senate approval. His own party hasn’t passed a budget ever in the Senate.

In other words, Obama already acts as if the Constitution were just for show. Like Augustus, he pretends to govern within its framework, but in fact he treats it with contempt.

Here on Earth, Obama has actually signed off on a series of compromises that fell short of what he demanded—the health care law, the debt limit increases—and he’s only the latest president to appoint a series of advisers who are termed “czars.”

Obama has angered many progressive by being to centrist and too willing to compromise on what they consider central principles. I know folks who still haven’t forgiven him for scuttling the public option in order to get health care passed. Yet to Card, Obama is clearly a dictator.

But Card isn’t done with his world-building. Now he starts to reveal Obama’s plans for political control using modern brown-shirts:

Where will he get his “national police”? The NaPo will be recruited from “young out-of-work urban men” and it will be hailed as a cure for the economic malaise of the inner cities.

In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama’s enemies.

Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people “trying to escape” — people who all seem to be leaders and members of groups that oppose Obama.

Maybe it’s time we take a second look at the hyper-militarized world of Ender’s Game. Maybe Card thought he was writing non-fiction.

  • Grotoff

    Was Heinlein so different?

    • Spuddie

      Being dead means people can chalk his prejudices up to being “a product of his time”.

    • smrnda

      Not really, though I think his writing was a bit better.

    • Darren

      Wasn’t Heinlein more into Free Love and ESP?

      I must have missed his Right-Wing nut-job phase…

      • kessy_athena

        Read Starship Troopers. *Very* militaristic. But the truth is that Heinlein was a pretty complex character, embracing different elements that we’d consider today to be both pretty far right and left. Comparing Starship Troopers with Stranger in a Strange Land should make it pretty clear. It’s really rather remarkable that the same person wrote both.

        My understanding is that Heinlein didn’t really care much for the flower children who elevated Stranger to almost being Holy Writ.

  • Yoav

    Not just alternate future but also alternate past.

    Historical lies have great persistence. There are still people who think that Winston Churchill
    “failed” at Gallipoli; who believe that Richard III murdered his nephews, though the only person
    with a motive to kill them was Henry Tudor; who believe that George W. Bush lied about
    WMDs in Iraq

    (emphasis mine).

    • kessy_athena

      Don’t forget the alternate present. I still can’t understand where the whole “Obama is an uncompromising radical and tyrant” meme comes from. I mean, obviously they completely made it up, but why? Just because Obama is black? I really hope not.

  • Darren

    President Obama really needs to put a wiggle in it, don’t you think? Half way through 2013 and he has yet to wipe his ass with the Declaration of Independence and I have not seen even one urban-youth press-gang…

    Chop, chop Mr. President…

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    Obama already has a “national police” force. It existed long before he took office. Actually he’s got several of them! They’re called the FBI, the DEA, the ATF, the DHS, etc. What need is there for him to create another?

    Let’s face it, the only reason the militant Right, including Card, keeps insisting Obama is creating a “militia,” is because they equate him with Hitler, so they’re shoehorning Hitler’s career onto Obama’s. Since Hitler had his Sturmabteilung (aka the SA or “Brownshirts”), the militant Right is forced to imagine Obama is planning the same thing. Of course, Hitler had his “brownshirt” thugs in place before he came to power, in the 1920s, and Obama hasn’t even created his imagined “militia” even yet … so the parallel has failed already. But the factually-challenged militant Right isn’t even aware of that yet.

    I won’t even mention the fact that the militant Right already has “militias” of its own, hence, they’re hypocrites for condemning Obama’s (even if Obama’s is a figment of their hyperreactive, childish imaginations). And because nearly all of the militant Right is made up of Christians, by virtue of this hypocrisy, they’ve broken one of the core the tenets of their own religion.

  • vulfhild

    Since the major themes have already been addressed, I merely want to remind folks that the “czar” handle was invented a long time ago by reporters who didn’t want to write out long federal titles like Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health. Wikipedia has a good roundup of which presidents have appointed what “czars.” I wonder how Card would fare is the “copyright czar” were eliminated.