Poetry rarely makes for mainstream news, but in one of those amusing cases where the inner contradictions of liberal logic erupts into self-devouring furor, the Washington Post is ready to report the ensuing scandal that someone somewhere has probably already dubbed “Poetrygate.”
What happened is hilarious. A prominent annual register of the year’s best poetry was released, and one of the lucky selections (out of about 1,000 candidates) was a poem entitled “The Bees, the Flowers, Jesus, Ancient Tigers, Poseidon, Adam and Eve” (warning: language) written by a Chinese American named Yi-Fen Chou.
But the editor learned immediately after making the selection that the author had a little secret.
He was not Yi-Fen Chou. He was not even Chinese. He’s a white boy named Michael Hudson, from Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
Mr. Hudson had tried and tried to get his poem published under his “white” name but was rejected by over 40 journals. He perceived that the hurdle was not his poetry but his whiteness. The journals, like academic English departments and literary criticism in general, are eaten up with political correctness to a fascistic degree. So he tried again, but this time using a Chinese-sounding pen-name.
Once accepted and published, Mr. Hudson’s contribution was loved and appreciated. The editor of the “Best American Poetry 2015” selection especially loved it, elevating it above its thousand peers into the coveted Pantheon of poetry.
It was brilliant. I was liberalism hacked. Political correctness got punked for the sham that it is: nothing at all to do with merit, but inclusion for inclusion’s sake, diversity for diversity’s sake. Are you the best but white? Take a hike. Hudson implicitly condemned the entire industry with his comment: “If this indeed is one of the best American poems of 2015, it took quite a bit of effort to get it into print.”
Once it was clear that whitey beat the system, the claws of the diversity Nazis came out in full hiss. And this is precisely where the wonderful world of “liberal logic” blessed us with one of its comedy routines. Even the literary-challenged cannot help but note the irony when Chapman University professor Victoria Change condemned Hudson for appropriating an ethnic identity that “doesn’t have access to the literary world.”
As if Hudson had not just proven to the entire world the exact opposite.
She whined that Hudson’s move “sort of implies that minorities are published because we’re minorities, not because of our work.” Well, the poultry of political correctness just came home to roost in the poetry world, didn’t it? It must be embarrassing when your affirmative action is quiet and unofficial, but it gets sniffed out and “sort of” exposed anyway.
But the editor was in a corner: if he withdrew the selection, it would be clear his alleged judgment by merit was a sham as well. All the poems would be suspect. So, he dug in his heels and defended (again, language) his actions against the ravenous howls for a whiteless diversity, and the drama only got better:
The editor openly admitted that the Chinese name helped secure his decision. He said, “I did exactly what that pseudonym-user feared other editors had done to him in the past: I paid more initial attention to his poem because of my perception and misperception of the poet’s identity. Bluntly stated, I was more amenable to the poem because I thought the author was Chinese American.”
He continued his confession: “In paying more initial attention to Yi-Fen Chou’s poem, I was also practicing a form of nepotism. I am a brown-skinned poet who gave a better chance to another supposed brown-skinned poet because of our brownness.”
And more: “I helped a total stranger because of racial nepotism.”
You gotta love it.
While it is great to see the open admissions of racism, the unapologetic manner in which he both engages and exposes the liberal double standard at the same time, and to see the inner contradictions of liberal logic repel each other into the melee of neuroses it really is, in the end it is most important to understand the sheer hypocrisy of it all, and to remember that this is enlightened progress into which you’ll be sending your children if and when they go to college.
A word to the wise is sufficient. And can you believe they give out awards for this stuff?