As one of my favorite lapel buttons says, some days there’s no point in chewing through the restraints.
I was musing over a subject that’s been on my mind from time to time –specifically, the downside of setting aside a particular day to be thankful, or patriotic, or worshipful, or what-have-you – when this news item appeared in my in-box:
They say “no good deed goes unpunished,” which appears to include feeding your neighbors after one woman’s act of hospitality turned into several days of angry discussion online.
One charitable woman posted a thread on Twitter about how she was going to make and deliver a pot of chili to her neighbors, a group of young men, according to the Washington Post.
The woman said that she had accidentally received a few of their Doordash orders and noticed they were frequently ordering pizza, and decided to be neighborly and make them a home-cooked meal of chili.
However, the woman’s comments drew a surprising amount of criticism, with Twitter users accusing her of “degrading and embarrassing” herself, “setting women back,” and more.
Others accused her of being a “white savior,” or of being presumptuous for not checking with the men first about possible food allergies.
It stunned me. Literally; after reading it, I sat still and silent for several minutes, unable to accept that what I’d just read could be true. Now, I’m not a Twitter user. I had a Twitter account very briefly some years ago and deleted it in disgust at the behavior I witnessed there. The story cited above is typical of what revulsed me.
However, the driving wheel of such spitefulness isn’t Twitter itself. Twitter’s just a medium. Twitter makes it possible for people with nasty things to say to vent themselves. But like Facebook and other “social media” that are free to their users, Twitter has long illustrated a Gresham’s Law of Human Behavior: In a forum that values them equally, over time the shitheads will drive out the decent folks.
Behind the venom of the nasty Tweeters, as with so many other things that deserve to be condemned, lies Leftist politics and its “assumption of differential rectitude.” (Thomas Sowell) For persons of that sort, “the personal is political.” They measure every word and deed against the Left’s standard of acceptability – and the Left only approves of that which will advance the Left.
The relevance to Thanksgiving Day “should” be “obvious.”
Some six decades ago, Tom Lehrer wrote a song:
America’s fourth Thursday in November is a bit like that. It’s so drilled into us that this is the day to be thankful for your blessings that I can’t name a corporation that doesn’t give its workers the day off with pay. Everyone sits down to a gargantuan meal with persons they’d cross the street to avoid the other 364 days of the year. In the majority of such celebrations, the feasting waits briefly for a formal expression of gratitude – “To whom?” I hear you cry — after which it’s all food, drink, and football.
As the gatherings dissolve, many a host has muttered to himself “Thank God that’s over with.” Count me among them, and not just because of an unpleasant incident long ago.
Today matters are worse than ever before. We have an Administration that presses sheets of talking points on the citizenry for Thanksgiving Day table talk. Any number of families will be incomplete around the table because Uncle Fremmis or Aunt Hermione talks politics far too stridently. And of course “our” media must ring in with politically prescribed sentiments about the origin of the holiday and why it deserves to be condemned along with capitalism, patriarchy, the nuclear family, heteronormativity, and the white race.
I no longer ask myself “How do these people manage to live with themselves?” I know the answer too well. Their “progressively” prescribed hatreds are what keep them going. If there’s particular day set aside for thankfulness, that’s just a special occasion on which to vent their spleen.
Just thinking about it makes me freshly weary.
One more citation and I’ll drop this infuriating subject. It’s about a movie: The Life of David Gale, which stars Kevin Spacey, Laura Linney, and Kate Winslet. It’s skillfully written, acted, and directed…and the most horrifying bit of cinema I’ve ever seen. If you haven’t seen it…no, I don’t think I’m going to recommend it to you. Instead I’ll give you the best precis I can manage.
The title character, played by Spacey, is a college professor and anti-death-penalty activist who gets an opportunity to confront the governor of his state on the subject. The governor challenges Gale to cite even one instance of a death row inmate who was provably condemned unjustly…and Gale can’t do it. Unrealistic? Of course, but that’s in the nature of moviedom.
Gale’s career, marriage, and life fall apart due to an unwise sexual encounter with one of his students – a student who aggressively pursued him and then filed a claim against him for yielding to her. One of the early giveaways to the movie’s agenda comes when Gale asks fellow professor and activist Constance Harroway, played by Linney, how the faculty tribunal on his “offense” voted…and how she, in particular, voted. In a tone that writhes with disgust, Linney says “I voted for you…and against my politics.”
In the aftermath, Gale decides to contrive his own execution for murder:
- By persuading the cancer-doomed Harroway to collaborate with him;
- By videotaping her death by suffocation as if he had murdered her;
- By allowing the videotape – a strategically incomplete recording of the event – to reach the justice authorities;
- And by arranging for the release of a complete recording, which makes it clear that Harroway’s death was self-chosen and self-inflicted, to reach the press only after Gale has been executed.
Is it not superb! By carefully assembling these bits and concealing the right ones just long enough to bring about his death at the state’s hands, Gale contrives exactly what he lacked in his exchange with his governor: an “unjust” execution! The viewer cannot doubt Gale’s dedication to his chosen cause…well, except for the fact that by his lights he’d already lost everything worth living for, the woman he “murdered” was days away from death by cancer, and had the circumstances been even a trifle less bleak neither of them would have done any such thing. Yet the critical community hailed the movie as brilliant and uniquely relevant to our times.
Politics in our time: the politicization of all things, and to Hell with what it does to our ability to trust one another.
That’s all. I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving Day, and that I haven’t depressed you unduly. I shall now lock and barricade the Fortress’s doors and take up my traditional Black Friday stance: i.e., seated comfortably on the sofa, shotgun at the ready, with a wife, three dogs, three cats, and a good book for company. Have a nice day.