NRA: You know who else was an evil, homicidal tyrant?

NRA: You know who else was an evil, homicidal tyrant? January 25, 2013

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 116-120

Buck Williams is studying — carefully reading through the notes and sermons from Bruce Barnes’ computer:

Late in the afternoon, Chicago time, Buck broke from the fascinating reading of Bruce Barnes’s writing and finally got through to Chaim Rosenzweig.

That word “finally” there confirms what we already suspected about Buck’s “reading” — that it just means he had Bruce’s papers in front of him while he dialed and redialed his phone.

Buck has been trying to reach Chaim in the hopes that he can help Buck find the born-again Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah. Chaim Rosenzweig is a high-level assistant to the Antichrist and Ben-Judah is the Antichrist’s Public Enemy No. 1, so it’s a bit strange to seek Chaim’s help with this. But since Chaim and Tsion are the only Jews Buck knows, he figures they must also know each other. And since that’s how these books work, they do.

“Cameron! I have finally talked live with our mutual friend. Let us not mention his name on the phone.”

Just in case anyone is listening in, it’s best to avoid drawing their suspicion by mentioning that you don’t want to draw their suspicion.

“It was a strange message, Cameron. He simply said that you would know whom to talk with about his whereabouts.”

“That I would know?”

“That’s what he said, Cameron. That you would know.”

Buck seems puzzled by this, but readers will be reminded that I was wrong above to say Buck only knows two Jews — he actually knows four, with the other two being Moses and Elijah. Yes, the actual patriarch Moses and the actual prophet Elijah from the Hebrew scriptures. Buck and Tsion met them in the last book at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where they have returned to act as evangelical Christian street preachers. This is Tim LaHaye’s idea of the “Two Witnesses” from the book of Revelation.

The evangelistic technique of these two witnesses doesn’t seem very promising. Mostly they’re just chanting “Jesus is Lord,” which is a succinct statement of what Christians believe, but not a particularly persuasive approach to winning converts. There’s also the problem that anyone who comes forward during their altar call tends to get burned to cinders by giant flames shooting out of their mouths.

The Two Witnesses have been out there for more than a year now and it seems that Buck and Tsion were the only two people who have been allowed to approach to speak to them. They confirmed to Buck and Tsion that they are, indeed, Moses and Elijah, returned to the Earth. That seems like a newsworthy bit of information, but Buck never reports it through his news organization. It also seems like a compelling piece of information that might serve as a persuasive attention-getter for Tsion’s own evangelistic ministry, but he seems to be keeping it a secret too.

All told, the Two Witnesses could use a refresher course in my Four Essential Rules for Street Preaching:

1. Speak clearly in a loud voice.

2. If you’ve returned from beyond the grave, lead with that.

3. Don’t kill everyone who tries to talk to you.

4. Give a clear, concise presentation of Christian belief.

They’ve got the first and the fourth one down, but still need practice on the other two.

Anyway, readers here on page 117 quickly realize that Buck will need to talk to Moses and Elijah to reconnect with his friend Tsion. Buck himself will figure that out in about another 30 pages.

We return to Rayford Steele. When last we saw him, we were slogging through an elaborate multi-page set-up in which it was arranged to have Nicolae Carpathia’s top-secret meeting with his 10 global princes on the airplane, where Rayford (and therefore readers) would be able to listen in.

But then Rayford got off the plane.

Fortunately, instead of a top-secret meeting, Nicolae will be making another global broadcast, and Rayford and readers will still be able to listen in by watching it on television in the Baghdad airport terminal. So it all works out. We don’t actually hear what Nicolae says in his broadcast anyway, just Rayford’s distracted impression of the gist of it:

It was clear Carpathia had completely effected his will and spin onto the news directors at every venue. While the stories carried the horrifying pictures of war, bloodshed, injury, and death, each also spoke glowingly of the swift and decisive action of the potentate in responding to the crisis and crushing the rebellion.

Rayford stops watching before Nicolae begins to speak:

Rayford shook his head and went to a desk in the corner, where he found stationery from a Middle Eastern airline and began composing a letter to Earl Halliday’s wife.

The Antichrist’s Global Community has consolidated all governments, all banks, all religions, all currencies and all languages. But the airlines apparently all continue as independent, private sector businesses.

Logic told Rayford he should not feel responsible. … Rayford didn’t even know yet how Earl had been killed. Perhaps everyone on his flight to Glenview had perished. All he knew was that the deed had been done, and Earl Halliday was no more.

If you’re thinking I skipped the scene where Earl died, that’s because the authors did too. There was a scene in which Earl feared Nicolae wanted him dead, and there was a scene in which Fortunato said they would need a replacement for Earl after he gets dealt with, but this is the closest we get to a scene confirming that any of that ever really happened.

As he sat trying to compose a letter with words that could never be right, he felt a huge, dark cloud of depression begin to settle on him. He missed his wife. He missed his daughter. He grieved over his pastor. He mourned the loss of friends and acquaintances, new and old.

Like, for instance, his old acquaintance Irene. Or whatsisname, the kid.

Rayford knew he was not responsible for what Nicolae Carpathia meted out against his enemies. The terrible, dark judgment on the earth rendered by this evil man would not stop if Rayford merely quit his job. Hundreds of pilots could fly this plane. He himself had learned it in half an hour. He didn’t need the job, didn’t want the job, didn’t ask for the job.

And yet here he is, doing the job. For the Antichrist.

Twice now in two pages Rayford has reminded himself that he is not “responsible” for the evil deeds he is facilitating by collaborating with the Antichrist. He’s working his way through many of the classic rationalizations: If he didn’t do it, someone else would; he’s only doing his job/following orders.

These rationalizations are familiar, so let’s step back and deal with that familiarity.

How does Godwin’s Law* apply to a story about the Antichrist?

In Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” mythos, the Antichrist will be a global dictator and tyrant and the epitome of evil. The Antichrist, LaHaye insists, will be the cruelest and most evil leader the world has ever known.

So I’m afraid we’re going to have to Godwin this thread, because, by definition, the Antichrist must be worse than Hitler.

That’s a difficult, in some ways offensive, idea to grasp in trying to read these books. We’ve already got an idea in our heads of what superlative evil looks like, and these books’ claim that the Antichrist will be even more evil than that can seem like disrespect to the gravity of the real, historical evils this Antichrist is supposed to surpass, and to seem like disrespect to the real, actual people who really suffered under such evil regimes.

It takes a bit of mental wrangling, then, to keep in mind that Nicolae Carpathia is supposed to be worse than Hitler, that the Global Community is supposed to be worse than the Third Reich.

But what does that mean for our hero, Rayford Steele, who is a personal assistant to the Antichrist and a high-ranking officer in his regime? The authors have stressed that Rayford has “Clearance level 2-A” — the highest level of security clearance, reserved for the highest ranking servants of the Antichrist who work personally and intimately with this worse-than-Hitler tyrant.

I suspect that the authors would cry foul if they heard us make the comparison this invites and demands, but how can we not ask? What makes Rayford Steele any different from a Nazi collaborator?

I think Jerry Jenkins is trying to address just that question here with all of Rayford’s soul-searching. The problem is that Rayford’s own justifications sound like he’s cribbing from Burt Lancaster in Judgment at Nuremberg.

And then Rayford’s justifications get even worse:

He didn’t need the job, didn’t want the job, didn’t ask for the job. Somehow, he knew God had placed him there.

That’s right, it’s God’s will that Rayford collaborate with Nazis.

On one level, this is just another appalling example of Piperism — the shallow, Panglossian theology that holds that everything that happens must be God’s will because if it wasn’t God’s will then it wouldn’t have happened. But even John Piper isn’t quite as enthusiastic as the authors are here in attributing evil directly to God.

Look again at that phrase above, “The terrible, dark judgment on the earth rendered by this evil man.” The Antichrist himself can say, along with his collaborator Rayford, that “Somehow, he knew God had placed him there.”

The “terrible, dark judgment on the earth rendered” by the Antichrist is always exceeded in these books by the even more terrible and darker judgment on the earth rendered by God. The authors constantly give what sounds like a perverse rendition of the people’s song in 1 Samuel: “Nicolae has slain his thousands, but Jesus his tens of thousands.”

Somehow, he knew God had placed him there. For what? Was this surprising bugging of the intercom system by Earl Halliday a gift directly from God that allowed Rayford to somehow protect a few from the wrath of Carpathia?

Already he believed it had saved his daughter and son-in-law from certain death in the Chicago bombings, and now, as he looked at television reports from America’s West Coast, he wished there had been something he could have done to have warned people in San Francisco and Los Angeles of their impending doom.

As we’ve already discussed, repeatedly, there was plenty he could have done to warn people. He chose not to.

He chose, instead, to send his wife back to Chicago to check on his daughter, and in order to ensure her safety he did nothing to warn anyone in San Francisco or to attempt to interfere in the slaughter that he, as Nicolae’s pilot, was helping to ensure.

Rayford Steele is charged with being a collaborator complicit in all the evil of the Antichrist’s wicked regime. Here is Jerry Jenkins’ three-part defense of Rayford:

If he didn’t do it, someone else would.

And he’s only doing his job.

And he has to protect his own family, first, before sticking his neck out for anyone else.

The prosecution rests.

– – – – – – – – – – – –

* For those not familiar with all Internet traditions, Wikipedia has a good summary of “Godwin’s Law.” The key points are the law itself:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

And the customary corollary:

There is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

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  • aunursa

    Yeah, I saw that mistake and edited it last night. Well before your comment was posted. It should say:

    in order to prevent Nazi Germany from winning WWII, Kirk must prevent himself from saving social worker Edith Keeler (Joan Collins), with whom he has fallen in love, from a fatal auto accident.

  • Given all the history I’ve read showing how out of touch Hitler was with military reality towards the end of the war, I’m surprised I haven’t seen a time travel story where the reason the time police kept stopping the temporal assassinations was because if he died, the Nazis would replace him with someone competent.

  • [I]t’s hard for most of us… to imagine but some of the men who
    staffed the concentration camps believed that yes, what they were doing
    was beyond vile. But it was necessary, and someday the world would
    understand the terrible sacrifice they had made.

    OK, I’ve finally caught up with the comments, and I’m amazed that no one has mentioned The Operative yet. Perfect example of that kind of thinking.

  • arcseconds

     There’s a similar passage in Stanislaw Lem’s ‘Cyberiad’, where an intellectual wanting his writings to be trashed and his books burnt and to be sentenced to exile only to be vindicated in later generations is roundly ignored by his contemporaries.

  • tatortotcassie

    Given that King and Jenkins were being interviewed simultaneously, I think it’s likely King erred on the side of tact.  (Some of his other comments about Jenkins’s writing in the interview can be taken as lightly snide, depending on how you read them.)

  • banancat

     I think people tend to use 20th century monsters because we’re more familiar with them and most of us learn about them in school.  The older ones also tend to get overlooked because it’s hard to know where the truth ends and legend begins with them.  The farther back you go in history, the harder it is to determine what really happened.

  • So much that. It’s been hypothesized that half of what saved the Soviets was Hitler’s own hubris and overreach. O_O

  • Ken

    The Umbrella Academy: Dallas is my favorite time-travel Kennedy-assassination story.  I really did not see it coming…

  • As the descendant of Polish Jews and the great-grandson of a Holocaust victim (not that it changes anything here), I fail to see how it is offensive to say that the final one-world government, if one believes in it, is worse than Hitler. No-one doubts that Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich were radically evil (except for the craziest neo-Nazis and militant postmodernists, nihilists and total relativists, few of whom exist even in the academy, who say good and evil have no real existence.) But the fact remains that they lost World War II and their reign came to an end in 12 years from the 1933 elections. This put a limit to the physical damage they could do and they did not succeed in wiping out God’s chosen people of the Old Covenant, the Jews, or ending Christianity- though millions of people of both faiths questioned their beliefs as a result of the War and related atrocities. They also did not have access to nuclear weapons.
    They were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people. What if a putative Antichrist one-world government used more mass rape and torture than the Nazis as well as human sacrifice to Satan/demons and cannibalism on top of their genocide, if they won every battle to rule the whole world unopposed, killed hundreds of millions of people in death camps and battle, used thermonuclear weapons to snuff out the lives of further hundreds of millions in “non-Aryan” areas such as Africa and South America (the H-bomb has never been used in warfare thus far) for a total death toll in excess of one billion, and managed to all but wipe out Christians and Jews? It would be correct to call them “worse than Hitler” without minimising the fate of his victims.I do not believe in taking Revelation literally. But fundamentalists and Charismatic/ Pentecostals, along with cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses who believe in a literal end-times event involving the ultimate evil ruler, are not trivialising anyone’s suffering- even the victims of the Holocaust, remembered yesterday- by saying that there will be worse to come.The ultra-liberal Jewish Anti-Defamation League and National Council of Jewish Women, despite having anti-rightwing sections on their web sites and regularly criticising evangelical and fundamentalist Christians for evangelising Jews, saying they only believe half of God’s Word, sometimes implying their guilt in the death of Christ, and believing in conspiracy theories which target Jews or the heavily Jewish-supported Freemasons (Illuminati, CFR, “international bankers”, responsibility for racial integration, etc.) and their politics on guns, abortion, homosexuality, size of government, constitutional interpretation and separation of church and state have NEVER raised this as a criticism against them. If they were to bash the LaHayes it would be for setting up the Moral Majority and Concerned Women for America- not for stating the truth that it is possible a dictator worse than even Hitler may one day exist.  

  • EllieMurasaki

    What if somebody did all these things that would be worse than Hitler? Well of COURSE they’d be worse than Hitler. Can we stop freaking out about unlikely hypotheticals now?

  • KevinC


    As for his quote about Stephanie Meyer, well…Twilight is the world’s
    easiest target. There is almost no risk to anyone who wants to tear it
    down — as long as they aren’t a friend of Meyer’s or anything.

    And why is it the easiest target in the world (as contrasted with other awful writing like the LB Series)?  Because it’s written by a woman for girls and women.  Ohai, Male Privilege!  Reminds me of this marvelous essay about the sexism inherent in the “Mary Sue” concept.  A quote:

    So, there’s this girl. She’s tragically orphaned
    and richer than anyone on the planet. Every guy she meets falls in love
    with her, but in between torrid romances she rejects them all because
    she dedicated to what is Pure and Good. She has genius level intellect,
    Olympic-athelete level athletic ability and incredible good looks. She
    is consumed by terrible angst, but this only makes guys want her more.
    She has no superhuman abilities, yet she is more competent than her
    superhuman friends and defeats superhumans with ease. She has unshakably
    loyal friends and allies, despite the fact she treats them pretty
    badly.  They fear and respect her, and defer to her orders. Everyone is
    obsessed with her, even her enemies are attracted to her. She can plan
    ahead for anything and she’s generally right with any conclusion she
    makes. People who defy her are inevitably wrong.

    God, what a Mary Sue.
    I just described Batman.

  • KevinC

     Another thing: how hard is it to live down being a “Peterson?”  If your last name is “Hilter” or “Stalin” or “Mengele” or “Khan*” then, yeah. 

    *In the U.S. at least, you’d probably have more trouble living down the one from Star Trek than the one from history, i.e., “KHAAAAAAAAAN!”

  • Andrea

    Indeed, that’s part of the Wikihistory twist – the guy who goes back in time to kill Hong Xiuquan (ROT13’d for spoilers) vf qrfpraqrq sebz uvz.

  • arcseconds

    It seems sort of banal to measure evil purely in terms of body count.
    Sure, Joe Stalin has the highest body count, but he was for the most
    part killing his own people in relative secrecy. Hitler was with
    deliberation and malice aforethought trying to commit genocide.

    About the wisest comment I’ve ever heard on the matter described the ‘who was evilist betwixt Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler’ topic as ‘purile’.

    He did go on to  make the comment though that one big difference is that Stalin did things the old-fashioned way — he had people shot.   The Nazis, though, modernised mass execution.  No-one actually killed any Jews (or Roma, or Slavs…).   They just arranged for transport, ushered them into rooms, put a certain canister in a certain drawer, etc.   Every action is in itself innocuous.

    In many ways that’s a lot more chilling.

  • PatBannon

    Mm, I would say that the main offense of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu is not unimpeachable perfection, it is unimpeachable perfection unsupported by the plot and events. Batman is hero-worshipped even by other heroes because he has an insane laundry list of accomplishments that he accomplished on-panel and without violating his character concept*, but your average Mary Sue/Gary Stu has all the reputation but none of the actual accomplishments.

    Buck Williams is much closer to a Mary Sue than Batman, because Batman, for all his pomp, actually does things to deserve his reputation.

    Also, from a lifelong Batman fan, Batman gets proven wrong, gets completely side-tracked, and gets his ass thoroughly handled to him a hell of a lot more than that essay makes it out to be. It’s easy to tar a character when you selectively highlight his history.

    *…uh…much. It comes of having dozens and dozens of different writers over time.

  • PatBannon

    …gets his ass thoroughly handed to him. Sigh.

  • PatBannon

    (Now I think of this. Wish I could edit.)

    In fact, I think that author is sort of smushing Batman and Superman into one character. Batman is not primarily a Showy Invincible Hero like Superman, who deflects everything with ease before effortlessly defeating his target, he’s much more often portrayed as a Heroic Bloodshed type hero, who takes a ridiculous pounding but manages to scrape through to the end on sheer grit.

  • Tricksterson

    One comparison I heard goes that Stalin was worse than Hitler, not because he killed more people (although he did) or was crazier than Hitler (although he might have been) but because there is still a large group of people, not all of them with one foot in the grave who think he and the Soviet Union in general was the best thing that ever happened to Russia.

  • Tricksterson

    The first version still works if one is into slash fiction.

  • Tricksterson

    To be fair 9and I am much more a Batman fan than a Superman fan) Supes has come down substantially off his pedastal since the Silver Age.  Back then he literally moved planets and shrugged off nukes.

  • Lorehead

    They are also in Israel. If their weapons were acquired locally, odds are it would be from Israeli military stockpiles.

    Also, keep in mind that Israel has nearly-universal military service, so there are plenty of people who aren’t Jewish, yet who might have access to those weapons legally.  Is there anything to suggest whether they’re Jewish, Christian, Druze, or even Muslim?

  • aunursa

    Book #1 refers to those who surrounded the Witnesses as “zealots” and states that the attackers are from among the “zealots.” And shortly we’ll see Chaim tell Buck that “the religious zealots in this country hate a person who believes that Jesus is Messiah.”  The people who murder Tsion’s wife and step-children are referred to as “religious zealots.”  It’s not stated, but strongly implied, that they are Orthodox Jews.

    In Book #2, an attacker shouts “in an Eastern dialect Buck did not understand” that he “is on a mission from Allah.”  Thus it’s implied that he is a Muslim.

  • Lorehead

    Yes, it does sound as if LeHaye and Jenkins chose the word zealot consciously.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    several time-travel stories have focused on attempts to save President
    Kennedy (by stopping Oswald, who in these types of stories is presumed
    to have been the only gunman.)

     I liked Suppressed Transmission‘s take on the JFK assassination:  “If you arrive in an alternate reality, and history states that John F. Kennedy was killed in Austin, Texas on 11/23/63 by (some other guy), it should be obvious that Conspiracies Are Afoot…

  • Tricksterson

    Possibly but it’s just as possible that Jenkins is unaware of the difference between a dialect and a language.  Never discount the possibility of L&J being staggeringly ignorant.

  • Lorehead

    So, are there any instances of them calling English a dialect?  German?  Greek?  Hebrew?  People who don’t know what the word dialect means to a linguist use it disparagingly.

  • aunursa

    In his labored English, the rabbi said [to Buck], “In your dialect, my first name sounds like the city, Zion. You may call me that.”
    Book #2

    “I grew almost physically ill,” he added, with his charming Hebrew-accented dialect…”
    Book #3

    “The first page of your folders,” she began, in a precise and articulate tone with a hint of her native Romanian dialect…
    Book #8

    Her husband shouted back in Chinese. David knew there were many dialects, but he didn’t understand even one… David recorded the conversation in the unlikely event he could download voice-activated software that would not recognize the language and the dialect, but would also convert it to English or Hebrew, his two languages.
    Book #8

  • Lorehead

    Thank you.  That does answer my question, so my suspicions were wrong and I should acknowledge that.

    To be honest, the first comes across to me as an attempt at comical broken English itself: oh, the rabbi with the foreign accent says Buck’s speaking dialect!  The second is using dialect to mean a foreign accent.  The third can be read as technically correct in the sense that linguists use the term, but it also seems to be saying, “She has a noticeable foreign accent,” rather than, “Even when speaking English, her pronunciation reflects the particular variety of Romanian that she speaks, as distinct from how other Romanians speak.”  The fourth excerpt seems to be missing a word (“that would not [only] recognize …”) but definitely uses the words language and dialect correctly.  So Jenkins does know what they mean.

  • Lorehead

    Thank you.  That does answer my question, so my suspicions were wrong and I should acknowledge that.

    To be honest, the first comes across to me as an attempt at comical broken English itself: oh, the rabbi with the foreign accent says Buck’s speaking dialect!  The second is using dialect to mean a foreign accent.  The third can be read as technically correct in the sense that linguists use the term, but it also seems to be saying, “She has a noticeable foreign accent,” rather than, “Even when speaking English, her pronunciation reflects the particular variety of Romanian that she speaks, as distinct from how other Romanians speak.”  The fourth excerpt seems to be missing a word (“that would not [only] recognize …”) but definitely uses the words language and dialect correctly.  So Jenkins does know what they mean.

  • aunursa

    The fourth excerpt seems to be missing a word (“that would not [only] recognize …”)

    It was missing (my mistake.)  I fixed it while you were composing your reply.

  • The part with David Hayseed (hate!) is especially interesting: he is often referred to as an Israeli Jew, but I don’t think he’s Israeli, because it is revealed that he is actually not one of the 140,000 witnesses.  He is, I think, Polish. 

    Yet in both of the recorded book versions, he speaks with a Midwestern American accent, despite never having set foot in North America in his life.  The dramatic version gives him an accent, but…I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be.

    On another point, why should Tsion ben-Jewishguy’s English be “labored”?  Isn’t he supposed to be master of a dozen languages or something?

  • aunursa

    Yes, David Hayseed is Polish, age 22 when he first appears in Book #4

    According to L&J’s theology, each of the 144,000 witnesses will be of Jewish background, not necessarily Israeli.

  •  Because Tsion Ben-Judah’s character sheet was lifted from the “Funny Foreigner” 80s sit-com archetype sourcebook. We should be thankful he never insists on making COusin Larry do the Dance of Joy

  • Launcifer

    In Book #2, an attacker shouts “in an Eastern dialect Buck did not understand” that he “is on a mission from Allah.” * Thus it’s implied that he is a Muslim.

    I suppose it’s too much to hope for the possibility that it was dark and he was wearing sunglasses, isn’t it?

  • From Desecration:

    “You know, despite being ethnically Jewish, I am not purely an Israeli either, though I have distant roots here.”

    Seeing as how David makes this statement approximately 2 minutes before being gunned down, it seems like LaJenkins’ attempt to explain why Hayseed can be killed.

  • aunursa

    “Ayeee!” A young man wearing boots, khaki slacks, and a white T-shirt came screaming through the crowd… He wore a gold necklace, and his black hair and beard were unkempt. His dark eyes were ablaze as he rattled off a few rounds into the air…

    From Tribulation Force

  • P J Evans

    An Italian?

  • aunursa

    The reason that Hayseed could be killed was that Petra had not yet been established as a place of refuge.  Tsion is Israeli, but he wasn’t protected on account of being an Israeli believer in Jesus, as demonstrated by the TF’s concern with his safety throughout the early part of the series.

    The 144,000 would be Jews, 12,000 from each of the original twelve tribes, but they would be gathered from all over the world, a restoration of the dispersion of Jews throughout history.

    from Tribulation Force

    And in Book #4, Tsion shares his assumption that the bulk of the 144,000 witnesses must come from Israel — but not all of them.

  • arcseconds

     That makes Stalin potentially worse in historic effect, maybe.  On the other hand, those people would doubtless be looking back to some other strongman if it wasn’t Stalin.  Kruschev or Peter the Great, maybe.

    Another thing, maybe from the same guy, I’m not sure, I heard was that Stalin was far more dangerous to have dinner with than Hitler.  There was simply no telling what might result in you being shipped off to a gulag.

  • Well that’s what the Left Behind series is about. The hypothetical that a sick, satanic one-world ruler probably something like I described will take charge. Not an event which has already happened. And I was explaining why that ain’t antisemitic.
    The only way one could be antisemitic would be to take an event which had already happened and compare it to the Holocaust, when the event was *not* worse than what Hitler did. One could charge some anti-abortion activists with that. Leave Tim LaHaye alone. He has better family values than you ever will.

  • EllieMurasaki

    I thought you were taking your bigotry somewhere the fuck else.

  • CC

    Mary Sue may now be an inherently sexist concept, but it’s one that was originally identified and defined by women who noticed a common trend in their writing community. 

    The fact that “Mary Sue” has been picked up and used as a cudgel against mostly female writers is sexist. But as someone who wrote a Mary Sue character before I ever heard the term, and has since read literally hundreds of stories featuring Mary Sue type characters, I believe there’s a valid critique in the original Mary Sue story and definition.

    Some young writers believe that a character has to be The Best at everything they touch before the audience will care about them. I hope it’s obvious why that’s actually a damaged and damaging idea in the first place. I’ve talked with several other women who’ve written typical Mary Sue characters, and most of us have problems with stifling perfectionism. I believe we made our early Mary Sue characters inhumanly perfect because on some level we believed only inhumanly perfect women would be loved.

    The original Mary Sue concept also notes that the Mary Sue usually becomes romantically involved with a male canon character. It’s not enough to be perfect: she also has to be a man’s love interest, girlfriend, or wife in order to matter. And she has to be perfect in order to attract these men.

    Another frequent feature of Mary Sue stories is that other women (from the original canon, or invented for this purpose) are disparaged in order to highlight what a paragon the Mary Sue is. Which is obviously worthy of criticism.

    So the criticism of Mary Sues didn’t originally, and doesn’t always, come from a sexist place.

    And I think most of us here see some value in the parallel concept of the Gary Stu, to explain the otherwise boggling creations of Rayford Steele and Buck Williams.

    For my money, the really defining quality of a Mary Sue/Gary Stu isn’t the character’s amethyst eyes or perfect list of achievements, it’s that the narrative itself treats the character as perfect, justifying all his qualities and all his actions as right and good and correct. 

    It’s what happens when a writer is so anxious to make sure the audience loves the character, and so certain that only perfect people deserve love, that the writer will distort the entire story just to make sure the character is never seen as being in the wrong. Wonder Woman and Superman can be loaded up with endless, titanic powers and virtues, but if the characters make mistakes that the story acknowledges as such and doesn’t rush to justify, the characters aren’t a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.

    But if any mistakes a character makes are quickly justified and the character’s admittance of them is swiftly made into a larger virtue than the original error– like, say, Rayford’s infidelity– or if the character can, for example, let an entire city fall to the bombs of the Antichrist, and the narrative tries to depict this as guiltless and even heroic… that’s a Gary Stu. The term and concept describe several screwed-up ideas about virtue and perfectionism, and I think it’s worth talking about.

  • aunursa

    The original Mary Sue concept also notes that the Mary Sue usually becomes romantically involved with a male canon character. It’s not enough to be perfect: she also has to be a man’s love interest, girlfriend, or wife in order to matter.

    That reminds me of so many action movies, in which, early on, the protagonist just happens to meet an attractive (and available) person of the opposite sex.  In my mind, the character’s first words are: “Nice to meet you.  I’m your romantic partner for this film.”

  • They tried that with Jack Harkness, It didn’t exactly work.

  • hf

    There’s a website about this. By the most credible numbers, Hitler killed more people than Stalin – if we include those who died in WWII (or even just the Soviet deaths, I believe). And I’m inclined to do so. Because invading the USSR made no sense at all unless he wanted to exterminate the Slavic people, or at least to keep the promise he made along those lines. (See: sincerity, problems with.)

    Even after invading, he could have gotten some of the country’s vast population on his side with an “I’m not Stalin” PR campaign. He did not. Instead he pursued a course of action that ensured his eventual defeat at the cost of huge numbers of Soviet deaths.