Saturday, January 05, 2008

The flag is at half-mast today... honor the passing Wednesday of George MacDonald Fraser: novelist, screenwriter, and author of the remarkable Flashman "memoirs." If you don't know his name you've probably seen one or more of his movies; if you liked Keith Laumer, you owe it to yourself to check out Flashman.

If you want to read simple adoration, Max Boot has a good piece on Fraser over at the Commentary Magazine site. If you'd prefer to read a serious obit instead and learn more about this man you should have known, try the Telegraph or Times sites.

Personally, I like the piece on the Daily Mail site, The last testament of Flashman's creator: How Britain has destroyed itself, as it's an except from Fraser's autobiography, The Light's on at Signpost. (Which it seems was never published in the U.S., and so is best sought on the site.) If nothing else, it's a good meditation on an author's committment to honesty. Few contemporary writers would have the spine to say:
The philosophy of political correctness is now firmly entrenched over here, too, and at its core is a refusal to look the truth squarely in the face, unpalatable as it may be.

Political correctness is about denial, usually in the weasel circumlocutory jargon which distorts and evades and seldom stands up to honest analysis.

It comes in many guises, some of them so effective that the PC can be difficult to detect. The silly euphemisms, apparently harmless, but forever dripping to wear away common sense - the naivete of the phrase "a caring force for the future" on Remembrance poppy trays, which suggests that the army is some kind of peace corps, when in fact its true function is killing.

The continual attempt to soften and sanitise the harsh realities of life in the name of liberalism, in an effort to suppress truths unwelcome to the PC mind; the social engineering which plays down Christianity, demanding equal status for alien religions.

The selective distortions of history, so beloved by New Labour, denigrating Britain's past with such propaganda as hopelessly unbalanced accounts of the slave trade, laying all the blame on the white races, but carefully censoring the truth that not a slave could have come out of Africa without the active assistance of black slavers, and that the trade was only finally suppressed by the Royal Navy virtually single-handed.

In schools, the waging of war against examinations as "elitist" exercises which will undermine the confidence of those who fail - what an intelligent way to prepare children for real life in which competition and failure are inevitable, since both are what life, if not liberal lunacy, is about.

PC also demands that "stress", which used to be coped with by less sensitive generations, should now be compensated by huge cash payments lavished on griping incompetents who can't do their jobs, and on policemen and firemen "traumatised" by the normal hazards of work which their predecessors took for granted.

Furthermore, it makes grieving part of the national culture, as it was on such a nauseating scale when large areas were carpeted in rotting vegetation in "mourning" for the Princess of Wales; and it insists that anyone suffering ordinary hardship should be regarded as a "victim" - and, of course, be paid for it.

That PC should have become acceptable in Britain is a glaring symptom of the country's decline...
So farewell to George MacDonald Fraser, a voice whose like we will not hear again. Salud!