East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

A small commitment


OK, I’m writing this off the cuff, and I am not really sure of where it will go, or if it will go anywhere at all.

Yeah, right.
I hate these guys.

Nazis are a sort of one-size-fits-all bad guys for a certain kind of entertainment – be it books, movies, comics, games.
Nazis are easy to identify – ah, those iconic uniforms! – and even easier to dislike. Or, Indy-style, to hate. And of course they believed in such a cartload of crackpot theories, that you can drop them in any adventure/fantasy thriller and be sure they’ll fit the bill.
Someone – can’t recall who, sorry – called the standard Nazi “the orc of pulp gaming”. And it’s pretty accurate.

airboy-5To me, it’s not just that I grew up with a partisan grandfather, or watching movies like Where Eagles Dare or The Guns of Navarone or, indeed, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It goes deeper.
My other grandfather jumped a train on its way to a concentration camp, in 1943.
He was lucky, and he survived. Many others did not.

Yesterday I read the words of a guy, that is the spokesman for some Italian party or other. The guy explained that concentration camps had all the comforts.
They had movie theaters and Wagner music was played, and they had swimming pools. About gas chamber, he doubts they ever existed – but on the other hand he admits he never visited a concentration camp.
And it was pointed out to me that forcing such an individual to visit, say, Dachau, not only would not change his mind, but would be an action in line with the Nazi mindset. Forcing someone to do something he does not want.

I am not entirely sure about this last point – I am a scientist and a teacher, and I believe in the power of knowledge, and to me showing someone the truth is not an act of violence, it is not totalitarianism.

And yet I see people embracing psaeudoscience, denying evolution and claiming they belong to a master race, with a side serving of “history is written by the victor”.
And I am baffled, because information is there, at your fingertips. You only need to do a little research. You can still talk with people that were there (a dwindling few), you can visit the places. You can learn the truth.
You can’t come to me and say “I don’t believe it because I never looked into it,” like that guy says about gas chambers.
And you can’t tell me it’s all right like that – hey, it’s just his freedom of choice!
Choosing not to learn the truth is not a neutral choice, it’s prejudice.
And fighting prejudice is not an anti-democratic action.

So, in the end, I’ll keep using the Nazi as bad guys in my pulp-era stories.
And I’ll keep feeding them to the dinosaurs.
Only, I am now committed to showing in my stories why it is good to feed them to the dinosaurs. Without clobbering my readers with long infodumps, but keeping it snappy and to the point.
After all, much of what I write is historical fantasy.

I think it will be a good thing.
Because apparently some guys missed the memos.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

7 thoughts on “A small commitment

  1. I read this thanks to Barry. Thank you for writing it.

    “Choosing not to learn the truth is not a neutral choice, it’s prejudice.
    And fighting prejudice is not an anti-democratic action.”

    Perfectly put.


  2. I visited Dachau back in the Eighties. That place is haunted.


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