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While I’m working on the Hugo packet, I’ll check in on more social trends. The first is allyism. This is activity that supports activists, even when support might not be in the immediate interest of the person supplying it. An example might be when men support feminism through not only stepping back politely out of the way, but also writing in support of and voting for women’s issues. Another would be whites supporting people of color through investigating white privilege, ignoring reverse racism and trying to advance the interests of POC. Another would be straights supporting gay rights and gay marriage. This is a moral stance that’s been popular among progressives for a long time, indicated by involvement in the civil rights movement and similar activities. However, as the left has recently gotten more extreme, there are signs that allyism is breaking down. More on this later, but first, here’s a concrete example.

The Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off is a competition with ten judges that reviews (and incidentally publicizes) self-published fantasy works and picks a winner. This year writer Max Florschutz submitted his book Unusual Events, but withdrew it after finding a review on one of the sites that he considered racist and sexist. You can find his blog about it here, titled “When did ethnicity and sex become the most important thing?” along with a link to Jo Niederhoff’s offending review of Outbound here.

“I’d probably have loved the book even if both of the leads were white and straight,” is the sentence Florschutz objects to. He tries it out with the flip test, getting “I’d probably have loved the book even if both the leads were black and homosexual,” and concludes that it is a racist and sexist statement. Niederhoff looks to be white, so her review is an example of allyism that has crossed over into offensive territory. The interesting thing is that Florschutz, a white male, did not step back in this case. He has made a protest, not only in his article, but also by removing his book from consideration in the competition.

Some people might say that Niederhoff was just mouthing a popular view without engaging her brain, and that Florschutz has over-reacted in suspecting this means bloggers in the SPFBO were prejudiced against white men. However, we can compare this to the recent David Riley incident, where he was attacked as prejudiced and forced to step down from the Stoker jury because of his comments on immigration. If Niederhoff had only said she enjoyed the diversity in the book she was reviewing, I’m sure this wouldn’t have been a problem. However, as it is, I have to agree with Florschutz. This leaves me wondering: Is extremism divisive and unproductive?

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