In the first part of Jingo, a war breaks out. Possibly. Probably. I’m sure it’s going to be a horrible mess, AND I CAN’T WAIT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Discworld.
Trigger Warning: For extensive talk of xenophobia, specifically anti-immigration.
It is sometimes astounding to me how quick people are to find differences in others and to hate them for it.
I don’t feel the nerd to lecture on that; indeed, I feel like a lot of my stories are examples of that specific phenomenon encroaching onto my personal and political freedoms. As silly as the introductory scene of Jingo might be – and the image of two fathers grabbing the wrong boats and the wrong sons in order to claim a “new” continent for their country first is pretty damn silly – Pratchett is still invoking something that is most definitely not silly. That’s a bold thing to do right at the start of a book, especially given where he later takes the theme in Ankh-Morpork.
But isn’t this satire hitting a little too close to home these days? Sometimes, the things I read and watch for my sites contain a prescience that’s little more than coincidence, but at the same time, there’s a reason things are cyclical or repetitive in history. We, as a human race, keep making the same fucking mistakes, over and over again. So, what is Pratchett getting at with the arrival of Leshp? (Seriously, is that the name of it? How on earth do you pronounce that?) He couldn’t have predicted Brexit or the political and social climate that arrived as it passed. (I am not all that familiar with Pratchett’s politics, but something tells me he would not have been a Brexit supporter.) Nor could he have known how much of Europe and the UK would behave towards the Syrian refugees. And let me just throw in the obligatory Trump reference here because LITERALLY EVERYTHING HE SAYS SOUNDS LIKE IT IS FROM A SATIRICAL NOVEL POKING FUN AT HORRIBLE PEOPLE AND YET SOMEHOW, MY COUNTRY PRODUCED THIS MONSTROSITY.
There’s a lot I found interesting about a continent rising up out of the ocean and immediately causing problems. Arif and Solid Jackson are firm in their prejudice, but their children are not. Which is not to say that children don’t inherit their parents bigotries. Let me point to most of the United States as an example of that. (Of course, this pops up around the world, but I’m feeling much more cynical towards my own country these days. Blame it on three weeks abroad and seeing how many things we get gloriously wrong. I ONLY MET TWO PEOPLE WHILE ON TOUR WHO HAVE COLLEGE DEBT. TWO.) But I thought it was intentional that Akhan and Les are, more than anything else, embarrassed by what their fathers do. Now, perhaps they have no need for nationalism; I find that I’ve been born into a generation who has less interest in American exceptionalism and glory than ever before. (Whew, I could spend hours talking about why, but I’ll save that for later if it becomes relevant.) Maybe that’s the case here, too. They probably know few (if any!) people who were even alive when Klatch and Ankh-Morpork last went to war, so why would they need to feel any animosity towards them? Their fathers, however, probably had grandparents and definitely great-grandparents who got wrapped up in that crisis, so they view the other party with suspicion. Hatred. Disdain. They jump to conclusions; their confirmation biases firmly entrench them in their beliefs. Indeed, you can see how quickly they are to assume that every action from the other person is a part of the narrative they’ve made up about them.
Again, this is played for comic affect, and it’s certainly funny. (I particularly loved the “We saw it first before you saw it first!” line a lot.) The same goes for the scene that Detritus and Vimes witness. (AHHHHH THIS IS A CITY WATCH BOOK. I DIDN’T EXPECT ANOTHER ONE SO SOON.) It is beautiful to watch Vimes destroy Mr. Jenkins as a liar, but why was he lying? And how was he doing it? This is where I saw Pratchett’s commentary becoming more direct than usual. He has Mr. Jenkins trot out familiar anti-immigration rhetoric, the kind of shit I’ve grown up hearing. They’re stealing jobs! They’re thieves! They’re here to harm us all! (It’s really depressing to think how often we see different iterations of the same bullshit. Just change a few details, and there we go. LORD.) Vimes expertly deflates how obvious these lies are.
And what does all this represent? Well, as Detritus puts it: forebodings. It’s a harbinger, isn’t it? With Leshp now a reality they all have to deal with, it’s only going to get worse, isn’t it?
I kind of can’t wait to see it get worse, y’all.
Mark Links Stuff
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