I’m wondering how many folks will show up this season as guests at a family member’s or friend’s Thanksgiving Day dinner, resolved to not engage in any kind of political debate. I further wonder how many of these well-meaning individuals, nonetheless, will, eventually and irresistibly, be sucked into a current events squabble somewhere between the turkey and the dessert. Or, perhaps, it’ll be a month hence: presents are being passed out around the Christmas tree and, despite the sincerest of intentions to avoid Trump- or Hillary- or Obama- or Republican- or Democrat-related controversy, holiday celebrants will ultimately succumb and crack open a disputation on precisely those forbidden topics.
I’m wondering because it seems those areas of life that are guaranteed to be genuinely politics-free are increasingly shrinking.
Addressing the proliferation of pungently — even viciously — partisan sniping in the world of late night television talk, Rich Lowry recently ruminated: “If this trend is inevitable, it’s not a good thing. It removes yet another neutral zone, free of social and political contention, from American life.”
Hear, hear! While I vehemently reject the silly maxim that one should “never talk about religion and politics” — “religion” (i.e., eternal matters) and “politics” (which considerably determines temporal matters) are among the most crucial subjects to be discussed and contemplated — I do agree there are moments and settings in which a break from contentious back-and-forthing is in order.
Perhaps Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas morning gift-giving are two examples?
Dolly Parton found herself in some hot water at September’s Emmy Award’s when she stood silently between Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as they launched a not-so-subtle verbal fusillade against our current president. “[I]n 2017, we still refuse to be controlled by a sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot!” The seventy-two-year-old country superstar’s eyeballs popped playfully a time or two — a momentary “yikes!” expression — but she vocalized no challenge to her fellow celebs’ anti-Trump jibing.
While it wouldn’t shock me to find out the famously amicable Ms. Parton bears no particular animus toward Donald Trump, neither was I surprised when she belatedly plead neutrality on the whole incident: “Lily and Jane are Lily and Jane and I’m Dolly … Everybody knows I don’t do politics … I’m an entertainer, and I don’t usually voice my opinion in a situation like that.”
And, of course, she had to go here: “I wasn’t going to play the game … [A] lot of people got mad at me because I didn’t say something, and I thought ‘What if I had said something?’ I didn’t know what to say. I just always go to a boob joke if all else fails.”
Her cutesy reticence is understandable, even refreshing in a way — but thing is: Fonda, Tomlin and their ilk — perhaps the commanding majority of big-name personalities crowding camera, microphone, and in print — don’t sign on to her polite restraint. To them, it’s hardly a “game” to “play”. Additionally, the big-mouths turn out to be overwhelmingly, obnoxiously Leftist. Meanwhile, legions of God-and-Country-loving types opt for the Parton-passivity approach: Peace at any price. The bottom line? Progressive wackiness swamps the discussion, while more sensible voices keep courteously mum.
For instance, on the heels of whatever firearms-facilitated killing spree has most recently occurred, I always feel a ping of guilt pointing out the focus needs remain on murderously bad people, not on the neutral tool they’ve chosen to misuse. That said, I’m forced to at least peep out my 2A-defending observations. Howcum? Well, despite the grave but heartbreakingly futile exhortations of some professional opinionators that “now is not the time for gun-control debate”, Liberaldom’s hard-chargers predictably and immediately turn the conversation into an anti-gun diatribe.
I’d happily wait a week before reinforcing the unbudging indispensability of the Second Amendment — but the frantic firearms-phobic set won’t allow such a breather. Straightaway, sometimes before victims or perps are even named, they begin with the indignant noises about further crimping the rights of good and responsible gun owners.
What’s a concerned, self-respecting constitutionalist to do?
Agreed: certain situations ought to be ironclad no-politics zones; but too many no-holds-barred Lefties won’t brook such an understanding. Plainly, we ought to be able to call the occasional polemical cease-fire; but our liberal counterparts are growingly making that impossible. So, their viewpoints get aired, while opposing perspectives are deferentially self-muzzled. It’s incontestably catastrophic for conservative causes; just fine and dandy with the proponents of progressivism.
Something’s hinky about that picture.
Let there be no mistake: as an antidote for this imbalance I’m not endorsing the sneering, name-calling, take-no-prisoners abusiveness currently all the rage — and “rage” is the appropriate word — within not a few conservative precincts. Forcefulness doesn’t have to translate to vindictiveness. It is splendidly possible to be both assertive, unapologetic and dignified all at once. Neither, however, does that last bit require tight-lipped, don’t-rock-the-boat acquiescence.
So this Turkey Day or at December holiday soirées — or at random inappropriate times throughout the new year and beyond — when others insist on peddling their Liberal, Leftist, big-government, socialist, secularist, tax-n-spend, anti-military, anti-American, race-baiting, pro-abort, Christian-bashing orthodoxies, those of us embracing opposing convictions might consider interrupting their rants just long enough to tell them: “You’re wrong.”
Image: CC0 Creative Commons; https://pixabay.com/en/girl-silence-portrait-woman-face-2179466/