The New Yorker gives another airing to ‘triggers’ and ‘microaggressions’, this one being penned by an English professor of Turkish descent (“Reading Racist Literature“):
Of the many passages that gave me pause when I first read “Lady Chatterley’s Lover,” in high school, the one I remember the most clearly is this conversation between Connie, Clifford, and the Irish writer Michaelis:
“I find I can’t marry an Englishwoman, not even an Irishwoman…”
“Try an American,” said Clifford.
“Oh, American!” He laughed a hollow laugh. “No, I’ve asked my man if he will find me a Turk or something…something nearer to the Oriental.”
Connie really wondered at this queer, melancholy specimen.
For many readers, this exchange might have slipped by unnoticed. But, as a Turkish American, I couldn’t prevent myself from registering all the slights against Turkish people that I encountered in European books. In “Heidi,” the meanest goat is called “the Great Turk.”
“Rather dreadful for an English girl to marry a Turk, I think, don’t you?” a character in Agatha Christie’s “Dumb Witness” says. “It shows a certain lack of fastidiousness.”
These encounters were always mildly jarring. There I’d be, reading along, imaginatively projecting myself into the character most suitable for imaginative projection, forgetting through suspension of disbelief the differences that separated me from that character—and then I’d come across a line like “These Turks took a pleasure in torturing children” (“The Brothers Karamazov”).
What an absolute cesspool of identity-politics grievance-mongering the humanities have become.