Deakin University lecturer Helen Young accuses ‘Lord of the Rings’ author J.R.R. Tolkien of racism, anti-Semitism and Orientalism

Deakin University lecturer Helen Young accused recently the Lord of the Rings Author JRR Tolkien denounced racism based on his condemnation of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis as well as his depiction of goblins and dwarves.

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Young wrote an article in The Conversation titled, “rings of strength He suffers from a racist backlash over the choice of actors of color – but Tolkien’s work has always attracted white supremacists. “

In the article under the subheading “Why racists like Tolkien and Middle-earth?” Young disputes Tolkien’s statements condemning Nazi writings and apartheid “but that does not mean he is anti-racist or pro-equality”.

She cites Letter 45 he wrote to his son Michael in June 1941. She wrote, “His condemnation of Hitler, as he wrote in the same letter, was for ‘sabotage, corruption, and abuse, and made this nobleman damned forever.'” The Northern Soul, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I absolutely loved, and tried to keep in its true light.”

Young then asserts, “The comment shows that he believed that some people were fundamentally different and better than others. This idea is the basis of racism.”

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First, recognizing that some people are different from others and that some people are better than others is not a basis for racism. It’s a logical observation that anyone can make. Not all of Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan clearly had a talent for basketball and he excelled in the sport to become the greatest basketball player to play the game.

Michael Jordan is clearly different from Helen Young and is definitely better than her at basketball and maybe at a bunch of other things including business too. That people are different and some are better at some things than others is simply a fact of life.

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If common sense is not enough to realize that people are different and that some people are better than others, Makes the Catechism of the Catholic Church It is explicit, “When man enters the world, man is not equipped with everything he needs to develop his physical and spiritual life. He needs others. The differences appear to be related to age, physical capacities, intellectual or moral capacities, benefits derived from social trade, and the distribution of wealth.” Not evenly distributed.

The Catechism also asserts, “These differences belong to the plan of God, who wills that each receive what he needs from others, and that those with special ‘gifts’ share benefits with those who need them. These differences encourage people and often oblige them to exercise generosity. and kindness and the sharing of goods; they promote the mutual enrichment of cultures.”

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As for Jung’s affair with Tolkien wanting to preserve the noble northern spirit, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Indeed, earlier in the letter, he highlights some of the virtues of that noble northern spirit, as seen in the Germans who were his enemies during World War II.

Tolkien writes: “It seems that the people of this land have not yet realized that the Germans have enemies whose virtues (and they are virtues) of obedience and patriotism are greater than our virtues in the masses. These brave men are as brave as ours. whose industry is about ten times greater. And who – under a curse God – they are now led by a man inspired by a mad whirlwind, a demon: a hurricane, a passion: this makes the poor Tsar look like an old woman weaving.”

He would also conclude his letter to his son by noting that “the place was, by the way, no more noble than England, nor holy and early Christian.”

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However, Young continues her attack on Tolkien, accusing him of orientalism. She wrote, “The ‘good’ species and races in Middle-earth are constructed by references to European cultures (particularly Northwest Europe), and the ‘bad’ races are constructed by Orientalist stereotypes.”

Tolkien already took up this argument when he was alive. In Letter 294 to Charlotte and Dennis Plimer, Tolkien provided their observations based on an interview they had given. He specifically criticized one part of the interview which claimed that “Middle-earth….spiritually corresponds to the countries of Northern Europe”.

He wrote, ‘Not Nordic, please! A word which I personally dislike; it is connected, though of French origin, to racial theories. Northern geography is usually better. But examination will show that even this is inapplicable (geographically or spiritual) on Middle-earth.

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“This is an ancient word, which I did not invent, as a reference to a dictionary like Shorter Oxford that will appear. It meant the habitable lands of our world, the middle of the ocean ocean. The story takes place in the northwest of Middle-earth, which is the latitude of the coastal lands of Europe and the beaches Northern Mediterranean. But this is not a ‘purely northern’ region by any means,” Tolkien explained.

“If Hobbiton and Rivendell (as intended) are taken to be close to the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is approximately at the latitude of Florence. The mouths of Anduin and the ancient city of Pelargir lie at the latitude of ancient Troy” , explained further.

Tolkien continued, “Auden asserted that ‘the North is a sacred direction to me.’ This is not true. North-West Europe, where I (and most of my grandparents) lived, has as affection as should a man’s house. I love its atmosphere, and I know its history and languages ​​more than I know in pans. the other; but it is not “sacred” and does not exhaust my passions. I have, for example, a special love for the Latin language, and among its descendants for the Spanish language. That this is not true for my story, it should appear just reading the summaries. The North was the seat of the strongholds of Satan. The progress of the tale ends More like recreating an effective Holy Roman Empire with its headquarters in Rome than anything the North could design.

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Young seems to have decided to ignore that message from Tolkien. Regardless, I then tried to point out that Tolkien’s portrayal of dwarves was antisemitic because Tolkien compared them to Jews using a completely out-of-context quote from Letter 176 that Tolkien wrote to Naomi Mitchison.

She says, “Tolkien’s letters show the ways in which real-world ideas about race influenced Middle-earth. He wrote, ‘I think of ‘dwarves’ like Jews: at the same time citizens and aliens in their dwellings.'”

Later in the article, she explained that she believed this to be antisemitism writing, “There is evidence that he revised his representation of dwarves between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to try to move away from antisemitic stereotypes.”

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The actual context of the quote is Tolkien’s discussion of broadcast adaptations of his work and providing his opinion on them. It also talks about the displacement of the Jews from their homeland, which is a historical fact. It is also likely a reference to the exodus of the dwarves from their homes at Eribor and Khazad-Dum by Smaug and Baluj.

He writes, “I think badly of the broadcast adaptations. Except for a few details, I think they weren’t done well, even giving the script and legitimacy to the project (which I don’t grant). But they had some problems with the names. I thought the troll (Glóin is not Gimli, but I I think Gimli would look like his father – apparently someone’s idea of ​​a German) was not so bad, if a little exaggerated. I think of “dwarves” like Jews: at the same time citizens and foreigners in their dwellings, speaking the languages ​​of the country, but accent because of their own language.”

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Young does not stop with dwarves, then criticizes Tolkien’s portrayal of orcs he described in Letter 210 to Forest J. Ackerman, in which he sharply criticizes the film’s treatment of the Lord of the Rings.

Again, taking Tolkien’s words out of the context of her writing, “In a 1958 speech on the treatment of The Lord of the Rings, he wrote: Eyes; indeed, the degraded and disgusting versions of the less beautiful Mongolian species (for Europeans)”.

This is what Tolkien actually wrote about Orcs in the letter, “Why does Z put beaks and feathers on Orcs!? (orcs Not a form Ox.) Orcs are asserted to be a corruption of the “human” form seen in Elves and Men. They are (or were) squat, broad, flat-nosed, pale-skinned, with wide mouths and slanting eyes: in fact degraded and disgusting versions of (for Europeans) the least beautiful of the Mughals.”

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Then Young asserts in her article, “The combination of stereotypes and racial hierarchies built in Middle-Earth makes Tolkien’s work attractive to racists and a useful political tool for the far right.”

Despite this, Jung also claims that “the need to overcome differences to form alliances and make the world better is a central theme in Tolkien’s writings. Evil is only defeated when the various peoples of Middle-earth, such as elves, dwarves, and humans, fight together.”

She continued, “Positive social values ​​of cooperation and action for others are embedded in Tolkien’s stories about Middle-earth. They are also at odds with racism and fascism that see ‘others’ not only different, but inferior, dangerous and untrustworthy, that is, as enemies.” “.

She later concluded that “Tolkien’s imagination was broad and varied, but not limitless. The world he created reflected some of the worst aspects of reality with its racial stereotypes and hierarchies.”

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Jung’s conclusions are not based on reality, common sense reveals them. Its arguments were refuted by J. R. R. Tolkien himself. Not only that, but she – as is often the case with the so-called academics criticizing Tolkien lately – had a thesis without any evidence to support it.

She then proceeds to create the evidence by distorting Tolkien’s writings. When the actual quotes are presented and not taken out of context, her arguments fall apart completely and the context to which she is referring reveals her lack of character.

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