Last week, WW reported on wweek.com that a co-owner of the Lovecraft Bar, an LGBTQ-centric goth nightclub in the Central Eastside, was resigning after a social media campaign alleged he sexually assaulted patrons. The campaign against the Lovecraft Bar also objected to its namesake: the cosmic horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. WW columnist Crystal Contreras argued that Lovecraft, who was openly racist and anti-Semitic, should be abandoned to the scrap heap of history. Here's how the debate unfolded:
Crystal Contreras, writing for WW: "Even though most internet commentators would say otherwise, writing is very hard work, and telling a story requires a lot of deliberation. When I think of the time and thought it would take to sit down and craft a story with a cat named after a racial slur for black people, or an entire poem about how black people were only part human and filled with evil, it makes me think that someone who would do that isn't just going through an unfortunate, momentary lapse in their belief systems."
Nick A. Zukin, via wweek.com: "However, you don't really engage the most important question: Can you embrace the work without embracing the man or all of the man? And further, can you embrace the work without embracing all of the work?
"This seems to be the most important part of these issues we're currently dealing with. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison—all slaveholders. Yet all of these people accomplished great things and even laid the groundwork for emancipation and racial equality. Even Lincoln, who did emancipate the slaves, was racist. Can we honor the Declaration, the Revolution, the Constitution, and the Letter without embracing their racism?
"If so, can't there be a bar called Lovecraft without it being racist?"
Container of Multitudes, via wweek.com: "Wow, you're not wrong, Crystal. Lovecraft is indefensible. I didn't realize the depth of his racism. I'm honestly shocked, not by the fact that he is racist, which in itself is unsurprising, but by the magnitude of his racism."
Catherine Spencer-Mills, via Facebook: "This leaves me in a quandary. My mother was racist about people from Mexico. Was it because of when and where she was born? In part. Was it because she was about as self-reflective as a block of wood? In part. Still, she was my mother and accomplished some good things in her life. If we condemned every racist, sexist, misanthropic, head-blind person, there wouldn't be anyone left that we could admire—including ourselves. I will still enjoy Lovecraft's stories, the father of Goth."
Harmon Lanager, via Facebook: "Yes, racism was a factor in his stories, but if you think about it, there's always the message that we are equally screwed. In the Cthulhu Mythos, we are all screwed if the Old Ones return. White, black, Asian, we'll all be destroyed the same. Because the Old Ones are the very definition of color-blind."
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