By Donna Minkowitz
Salon columnist Minkowitz blasts LDS author Orson Scott Card in her
write-up of an interview with Card. Minkowitz, a self-described 'Jewish
lesbian radical,' once wrote a book about what she found in common with
the Christian right. But Minkowitz, who loves Card's books "Ender's
Game" and "Ender's Shadow," was disgusted to discover Card's
Minkowitz calls the interview, "the most unpleasant interview I've ever
done," and describes it in a personal style that concentrates as much on
her unspoken reactions to Card as on his answers to her questions. And
in the end she is annoyed at the contradictions she finds in Card, but
says that she still thinks "Ender's Game" is a good book.
The interview covers a lot of subjects, using "Ender's Game" as a
jumping-off point. Minkowitz at first focuses on violence, only to be
surprised that Card sees violence in war as necessary, "Our entry into
the Korean and Vietnam wars reflect very well upon the American people.
The motive was not imperialistic at all, but genuinely altruistic. We
were willing to send our children off to war to protect, as we saw it --
as we were told to see it -- to protect the freedom of other nations,"
Card tells her. Minkowitz's reading of Ender's Game led her to assume
Card would think otherwise. "But wasn't the whole point of "Ender's
Game" . . . that hurting people is never, ever right except when
minutely controlled and in immediate self-defense?" she writes.
Minkowitz soon turns to talking about homosexuality, and asks Card's
opinion of the LDS Church's donations and involvement in
anti-gay-marriage initiatives in California, Alaska and Hawaii, again
assuming that Card will agree with her ideals. But Card instead says he
thinks that 'gay rights' are entirely different from 'civil rights.' "I
find the comparison between civil rights based on race and supposed new
rights being granted for what amounts to deviant behavior to be really
kind of ridiculous. There is no comparison. A black as a person does not
by being black harm anyone. Gay rights is a collective delusion that's
The issue of homosexual rights became an underlying theme during the
rest of the interview's write-up, surfacing again as Minkowitz discusses
other subjects. When she again asks about violence, Card indicates that
he doesn't think that homosexuals need additional laws to protect them
against violence because current laws already protect everyone against
violence. But Card tries to put his views on homosexuality in
perspective, "My views on the program of homosexual activists are part
of a much larger struggle to get rid of some of the social experiments
we've been performing. Divorce, the treatment of the poor . . . rate
far, far higher for me [than homosexual rights]."
But in spite of Minkowitz's irritation at Card's views on homosexuality,
she does manage to find some common ground with Card, but mainly in
areas where he criticizes Mormon culture. She is very happy at Card's
identifying himself as a "committed communitarian." "Real communism has
never been tried! . . . I believe government has a strong role to
protect us from capitalism. I'm ashamed of our society for how it treats
the poor. One of the deep problems in Mormon society is that really for
the last 75 years Mormons have embraced capitalism to a shocking
degree," Card tells Minkowitz.
And Card acknowledges that his ideas are probably shocking to many
Mormons, "There are Mormons who think I'm the devil because they're
unable to tell the difference between Mormon doctrine and right-wing
conservative views. . . . When I talk that way, there are some people
who are extremely troubled because they think I'm saying that they're
wicked. And they're correct -- I am."
But in the end, Minkowitz is still troubled by Card's views on
homosexuality, disagreeing with him even about its nature. She asks Card
how he can see homosexuality as wrong when it doesn't hurt anyone. He
disagrees, "I'm amused that you think it doesn't hurt anyone. The
homosexuals that I've known well, I have found none who were actually
made happier by performing homosexual acts. Or by withdrawing, which is
what they do, from the mainline of human life." Minkowitz then asks if
Mormons aren't also perceived as withdrawing from the mainline of human
life. And Card answers, "I'm talking about the mainstream of biological
life. Mormons don't withdraw from life."