We knew the shrieks and wailing would come. The moment the people behind the World Fantasy Award decided not to have an "avowed racist" on their award statue the screams began. They complained that this was merely political correctness and the "shrill whining of a handful of social justice warriors." They said this was an attempt to remove Lovecraft from genre history. They said this wasn't fair because Lovecraft was merely a man of his racist times.
I'm not going to link to the people making these arguments because you can find them easily enough. But I do want to comment on that last point from Lovecraft apologists, the so-called "man of his times" argument. That poor Lovecraft merely reflected the racism of his day and age.
Except he didn't. He was far more extreme in his racism than other authors of his time. His friends and colleagues wrote about this extreme racism because it disturbed them. This is simple history. Look it up.
But despite what the whiners and wailers are saying, this isn't an attempt to remove Lovecraft from genre history. No one will ever be able to do that. Instead, this is an attempt to make a statement about world fantasy in our times. Because having Lovecraft on the award speaks volumes about our times. The award is being given out today, not a hundred years ago. It represents who we are as a genre in this day and age.
And those making the "of his times" argument should realize they are also being judged by their actions in this, our times.
For in our times people are sending death threats to the black woman who wrote of her unease with receiving an award shaped in the head of a hard-core racist — threats which aren't being sent to the man who actually started the petition to remove Lovecraft from the award (or to the thousands who supported that petition).
In our times the genre has never been stronger, reaching a diverse world-wide audience through movies and video games and literature. Yet there are those who complain every time a person of color is given a prominent role in a franchise film series or a woman takes a lead role in a genre blockbuster.
All of these things are happening in our times. Yet instead of focusing on any of these or countless other genre issues in this, our times, these Lovecraft defenders merely complain about the removal of a racist from a world fantasy award.
They may think this doesn't represent who they are in this, our times. But it does. And it speaks volumes about both them and our times.