Sci-Fi Writer Claims ‘Lord of the Rings’ Is Racist Due to Treatment of Orcs

Sci-Fi Writer Claims ‘Lord of the Rings’ Is Racist Due to Treatment of Orcs, by Charlie Nash.

Sci-Fi and fantasy writer Andy Duncan claimed in a podcast that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books are racist, citing the negative perceptions associated with the evil Orcs.

“It’s hard to miss the repeated notion in Tolkien that some races are just worse than others, or that some peoples are just worse than others,” declared Duncan recently on the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “And this seems to me—in the long term, if you embrace this too much—it has dire consequences for yourself and for society.”

So invite the Orcs to come and live in your country, in your home, fool.

Of course it’s racist. The whole book is about different races — hobbits, men, elves, dwarves, orcs, and so on. Tolkien obviously meant the Shire to be England, and the darker, more powerful forces lie to the east.

The Shire is not intended to be geographically or politically associated with England in a literal sense. Rather, it is presented to the reader in terms that would have been familiar to someone who was native to England.

Is J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth based on Europe?

The core conflict of the setting — the wars between Gondor & Mordor — are a retelling of the Perso-Roman wars of history. Minas Tirith, the magnificent successor of a yet greater city (ruined Osgiliath — real-life Rome), is Constantinople — the frontier between Europe and Asia is roughly in the middle of the setting. Tolkien’s world is as interesting as it is precisely because of his use of oriental as well as occidental archetypes. …

Mordor is, hilariously enough, Iran – the only place on Earth or Aman to be ringed by mountains in such a distinctive fashion. …

Having identified Gondor as the Eastern Roman Empire, Arnor or Eriador is obviously the West — although here spliced with the “North”, the German-Roman empire that historically inherited the mantle of Rome in the West. … There may well also be an analogy of Angmar with the Vikings, as the sole Northern, Germanic threat medieval Europe ever faced. …

This isn’t a real-life retelling of history, but a very cultured professor’s conscious attempt at mythology. …

The Rohirrim, the blond horsemen of Rohan, are the mid-20th century European’s imagined Aryan/Scythian ancestors, fresh from the Steppe and still purely Germanic. In the imagination, they co-exist with the rest….

Mirkwood, the “largest forest in the world” is Russia, which shares the key trait of impressive size. That inclines me to say the Necromancer, Sauron disguised, is Communism, ie the Orient disguised. …

I don’t think most of the smaller/non-human realms can be pinpointed in any such fashion, though the Valinor=USA (Mighty Land Over the Sea) and Numenor=Atlantis (the imagined home of the “noble” races, in both cases) parallels are obvious.

Which is why the story curiously resonates so with Europeans, especially those from the West.

hat-tip Stephen Neil