Like many of my fellow white, cisgendered, patriarchal sci-fi geek oppressors, I blithely skimmed over the explicitly racist, genocidal attitudes of H.P. Lovecraft while reading his work without giving it a second thought. Thankfully, I have been rescued from my willful ignorance by the educational materials provided in a certain youtube video, created by a creature that in no way resembles a terrifying Lovecraftian abomination itself. Apparently Lovecraft was an anti-Semitic, genocidal lunatic who fondly enjoyed Mein Kampf and professed his glowing adoration of Adolf Hitler. The scales fell from my eyes as dizzying accounts of Lovecraft’s racism extended far beyond the infamous “Nigger Man” housecat from “Rats in the Walls.” Quite simply, I had no idea that Lovecraft’s fanatical racism and xenophobia permeated every iota of his work, like some pernicious, otherworldly plague.
Yeah we fucking get it. H.P. Lovecraft has long been beloved by nerdy white folk that produce things of value for society, and nothing makes a more appealing target for social justice warriors than RACIST cultural icons. Particularly cultural icons occupying formerly safe cis white male spaces in that final frontier of dildoist colonization, Nerd Culture. This is a perfect opportunity to establish a firm beachhead and show those bigoted neckbeards that progressive hegemony is going to forcibly edit science fiction whether they like it or not. Science fiction must be made a safe space for queer POCs and rent-seeking gender-abortions to populate.
The first prong in this sad little liberal assault involves pre-empting any whitesplanations that during Lovecraft’s time racism was fairly commonplace. (Oddly enough, this DOES excuse the racism, sexism and/or anti-semitism of figures such as Karl Marx, PJ Proudhon, Mikhail Bakhunin and even Abraham Lincoln.) Quite a bit of effort has been dedicated to shooting down the “Man of His Time” argument, courageously declaring that “Some of Lovecraft’s defenders in this matter are probably bigots themselves.” in a painfully obvious and familiar attempt to silence dissent by castigating opposition to the viewpoint as a priori racism. The real question here is what exactly are real fans supposed to do, admit that Lovecraft was a pseudonym for Adolf Hitler and stop reading his work? You can’t very well go around saying that even though the guy was a Nazi, you still enjoy his writing.
What Lovecraft fans ARE expected to do was made abundantly clear in a farcical display of social justice theatrics after Black Girl Dangerous refugee and international rent-seeker Nnedi Wahala received the World Fantasy Award, which consists of a small bust statuette of H.P. Lovecraft. When Wahala discovered that the trophy sitting on the shelf next to her other Black Writer Consolation Prizes represented a crude racist Nazi sympathizer and genetic purist, she experienced a cataclysmic level of rage which she eloquently described as “think tornadoes, tsunamis… no, bigger like the the [sic] red eye of Jupiter”.
The solution to the crisis? Well, you could simply turn the trophy of Lovecraft to the wall, as the effeminate, poncy little English Marxist China Miéville did when he received the award in 2010. But obviously that relatively low level of passive-aggressive faggotry just isn’t going to give you the opportunity for gratifying your ego with public moralizing. The only real option is to petition for the replacement of H.P. Lovecraft’s image with that of a vibrant POC who no one has heard of and whose shit tier books no one has read. Octavia Butler, author of something I suppose, (I didn’t google it, because why bother?) was selected for the honor ostensibly because of her huge fan base in the sci-fi community and the tremendous impact her books have had on the genre, not merely because her race and gender fit the agenda.
The point of all this grandstanding is pretty simple. It’s not some campaign to sanitize and erase all political incorrectness from media and the popular consciousness, although this is certainly an inevitable consequence if left unchecked. As usual, this is more about a pissing contest in which SJWs want to “mark their territory” and force the last bastions of white cultural hegemony to bow down and kiss the ring. Visibly dethroning H.P. Lovecraft from his position as revered demigod of “cosmic horror” sends a powerful message about who really holds the reigns of power in our post-modern identity politics driven society. If the guy who wrote “At The Mountains of Madness” or “Shadow over Innsmouth” can be relegated to the status of an uncomfortable memory of bigotry and xenophobia, then the predominately straight white male audience can be relied on to roll over and cede resources and social status to the various interlopers trying to colonize the territory. Swapping the likeness of Lovecraft with Octavia Butler is simply the most obvious slap in the face these miscreants could think of.
I for one, find the silliness of some of Lovecraft’s writing to be a lot more offensive than his racism, as if the racism of someone born over 100 years ago is of any legitimate concern in the first place. I’ll take good science fiction written by long dead white guys who occasionally pen passages like this over the Nnedi Wahalas of the world any day of the week:
When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Th’Olympian host conceiv’d a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.
–H.P. Lovecraft, “On the Creation of Niggers” (1912)