Tiptree, what’s with all the hate?

Dear Mr. Tiptree,

You seem like an awesome person: you write rationally, you like to make jokes, you are self-critical, and you have a particular interest in politics.  To me, that seems like we would have gotten along quite well and would have had many great conversations.  I should confess right away that I’ve taken to reading some of your private correspondence with Ursula LeGuin and Joanna Russ.  So sorry about that!

That being said, I’ve got one question in particular to ask you about the contents of those letters, and I think that you’d appreciate it if I was just blunt about it:

What’s with all the hate?

How can you go around calling people “Ay-rabs,” single out some people because of their race, or others because of their religion?  Were you raised this way or did some people from these groups do something to offend you?  Did you support the Civil Rights movement?

I suppose I’m having a difficult time reconciling the hateful things you say with some of the other messages you champion.  You fiercely deplore male dominance but admit that you feel that some types of people should be oppressed.  I think that you even know these things are contradictory, but you persist in doing it in your private letters.  Do you think that you’re being irrational?  Do you think your feelings about these kinds of people have affected your feminist beliefs?

I think that I can understand many of your other thoughts, about feeling oppressed, fearing government corruption, even your blatant bellicose attitudes (to an extent).  Because of this, I wish that I could sit down and talk to you in depth about your time in D.C. during the McCarthy Years or even during the Watergate Scandal.  You seem to have paid close attention to politics and those things appear to have shaped your attitudes in life.  All in all, it’s been a lot of fun reading your take on events as they transpired!

I hope you don’t mind if I call you Tip.

Sincerely,
Garrett

 

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2 responses to “Tiptree, what’s with all the hate?

  • cstabile

    There are so many contradictions in Tiptree’s language — the fierce identification with Jews, her progressive views on Civil Rights, her anti-war stance in the 1960s — and then, as you point out, her anti-Arab views. If I recall correctly, that appears most frequently in her letters with Joanna Russ. I don’t think Le Guin would have stood for that.

    I’m also curious about how Tiptree reconciled her progressive views with Ting’s employment at the CIA, especially after the Church Committee investigations in the mid-1970s, that turned up evidence of the CIA’s involvements in attempts to assassinate democratically elected leaders and other unconscionable crimes.

    • garrwest

      Those are exactly the things that I’ve been struggling with! There are so many contradictions and I don’t know if it was just “because of the times” or if they were just personally held beliefs. I think that in today’s political spectrum Tiptree’s progressive yet racist views would just be viewed as bizarre.

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