Saturday 14 September 2019

The wrong messages.

Margaret Atwood’s dystopian cloak-and-bonnet tale and the BBC’s Rise of the Nazis. A pair of allegories-with-a-message. 

Reviewers were quick to recognise that these programmes bore comparisons between present-day reality and dramatised fiction. Craig has already cited James Delingpole who points out that within the programme (Nazis) former Cambridge historian Professor Sir Richard Evans laid it on with a trowel; Trump =  Hitler. 

There are indeed parallels and messages, Jim, but not as we know it. Not as you know it. Y’all took away ’the wrong message’.

I started to pen a review of  “the Nazis” but it got filed under ‘pending’. (‘Pendings' are beginning to stack up). Objections to Ash Sarkar’s inclusion in this programme have already been well documented, so I won’t waste time on that. 

The parallels I saw were the opposite of the good Professor’s. The real parallel is between the rise of antisemitism and the Corbyn-led Labour Party. 

But no, the intelligentsia has pronounced that the parallels were between Boris Johnson, President Trump and populism and, somehow, fascism.

Allison Pearson has written about a similarly topsy turvy ‘take-away’ from The Handmaid’s Tail.  Sorry, tale.

The Republic of Gilead is not Trump’s America. The parallel is with a certain religion. Praise be!


  1. I've been observing for a while that progressives see Atwood's Handmaiden's Tale 'message' as a warning eminating ostensibly from what they consider right wing thought.
    Then I laugh to myself.
    In Europe, 'conservative' Islam votes left (if at all), in the US, Democrat.

    1. She nicked the idea from The Stepford Wives written by Ira Levin I would say.

      We are living in an age of parallelomania...hardly a day goes by without someone saying their novel, artwork, film has "parallels" with the dark trends of today...the "division" and "polarisation"...meaning Trump and Brexit.
      It's such a yawn fest!

  2. Atwood herself has made the connection with Trump which I did find more than surprising. I would have thought it was obvious to anyone that Trump's alliance with the religious right is purely opportunistic. It’s impossible to believe that he really shares their values. I can however, see the connection in the original novel with Reagan era America But that was a different world. So much has happened since then: The Rushdie Affair, 9/11, unsustainable levels of immigration and the invention of Islamophobia. But it is not simply a question of Islamic intolerance, but also the censorious puritanism of the new left. If we are heading towards Gilead it is not because of fundamentalist Christianity.

    On a sort of Gilead-like subject. I wonder if the hysterical criticism of Boris Johnson’s colourful descriptions of Burkas would have been the same if the wearers had been part of an extreme evangelical Christian cult. I suggest that the very same people who have chosen to misinterpret Boris Johnson’s words would be marching the streets with banners protesting about the oppression of women.

  3. The opportunity to attack Christianity is seen by illiberal liberals as virtuous, and the Gilead novels are based on some kind of Christian sect taking control of part of America. However the only people who are unloving and plain nasty to women by forcing them to wear restrictive clothing and denying them civil rights are to be found in Muslim countries. Iran after the ayatollahs took over have forced women to cover their hair and bodies. Saudi Arabia has been a repressive country since the Turks left, and the covering up process of more extreme Islam is spreading in Africa and Asia. These regimes use Sharia law to enforce a dress code, and to deny women equality. No Christian regime has any laws that deny women equality and choice of clothing... a few groups have women who volunteer to cover themselves up, but there is no law to enforce this or to punish any woman who chooses to leave such groups, whereas women who choose not to cover up in some Islamic countries can be punished, imprisoned or even killed.

    1. One might quibble here and there but essentially that's's only in Muslim countries that women suffer severe consequences from dress code violations. But Multi-millionaire Atwood has absolutely nothing to say about that...except perhaps the occasional Canadian maple-syrup "apply to all plates" general condemnation.


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