The Absurdity of Thanksgiving Politics

We at QNUW hope all of you had a delicious and festive Thanksgiving meal.  While perhaps not the most trad of holidays, what with its celebration of the Enlightenment overtaking the shores of the New World in its own flimsy manner of comradery in a time of struggle, it remains a staple of the American experience and, more importantly, an excuse to drink good booze and eat good food with the family.  You could almost look at it as a throwback to the feasts of saints once common in Catholic practice—it lacks that religious dimension, obviously, but in an age of modern secularism, the glorification and memorial of the Pilgrims at Plymouth play the part of a sort of American pre-Christmas celebration: it’s the beginnings of the American genesis, the prelude to what would become the Revolution.

But that’s not why we’re here.  For years, we’ve had this stereotype of the unwelcome intrusion of politics onto our Thanksgiving table.  Rarely would the afternoon dinner kick off with a loaded political statement, but usually after the appetizer wines are drained and the first or second bottle of the main course is served, the myth goes, That One Racist/Liberal Uncle just would not be able to help himself.  Maybe that happens now and then—we all know, I’m sure, plenty of politically-loaded wannabes that pay too much attention to rags like the New York Times—but the myth remains, by and large, a myth.  Even the Huffington Post has to admit that people generally don’t like or expect political fights at the Thanksgiving table.

So why is it that major media outlets like CNN and the aforementioned NYT are so interested in pushing this myth?  Are their journalists out of ideas?  Do they fall back on stereotypes to write stories?  Are they both creatively and intellectually bankrupt?  Do they want to foster more fear and dread in anticipation of solidly American holidays?  Probably a combination of all of that.

The liberal elite’s disgust with classic Americana can’t be more obvious, though when pressured on the subject, the liberal embrace of foreign cultures and anti-Western rhetoric ends up cloaked in irony and disdainful accusations of offense.  The reaction against one’s native culture is a psychological one, I think, than a philosophical one.  Only in cases where one recognizes the fundamental order of the world and their culture’s distinct rejection of it does such a reaction warrant serious consideration.  But for the common liberal who has internalized the necessary liberal dictums relating to relative truths and cultural egalitarianism, there is no way to settle the dissonance.  Ask your liberal friends and they’ll insist they don’t even have any, but once cornered, they too will recede into the territory of those hounded by a guilty conscience.

That said, the willingness to hammer on about stereotypes tends to belay their own low-effort style of journalism.  It’s obvious that not every article published by a major paper is going to be some in-depth bust of information about politicians or magnates, but expecting even their light-hearted pieces to have a bit more zest to them isn’t unreasonable.  Instead, we get pieces like this: something written at a sixth-grade reading level full of confused statistics that really have nothing at all to do with anything in particular.  And when the more creative members in the media feel the need to step up and fill the void, we’re presented with The Atlantic writing a confusingly sarcastic diatribe or Elle publishing a Reddit-style list of ways to be an idiot in front of your family.

What’s incredible about both of these articles isn’t only how badly they fail to be funny, but also the fact that they weren’t even written by liberal women.  The men now employed at these second-tier so-called journalist outfits have succeeded in being even more insufferably passive-aggressive, un-clever, and unfunny than should normally be expected.  The bar now for getting yourself published in a major website could not be more transparent: it’s not what you know, or even how well you know it; it’s who you know!

Now I can’t speak for your Thanksgiving dinners, but mine was spent with family who, perhaps unknowingly, are more politically divided than first appearances might imply.  There aren’t any of Those One Racist Uncles and only one person bears a passing resemblance to That One Liberal Aunt, but by and large, most of the group are either establishment-supporting Democrats who seem to believe what they read in the New York Times or establishment-supporting Republicans who seem to believe what they read in the Wall Street Journal.  There’s plenty of room for radical argument over how well the country has been run by the current president, but the topic never came up.  Nor would it; civil discussion of politics, in today’s market, about as interesting as watching paint dry.  It yields entertainment value only when people are at each other’s throats, and Thanksgiving dinner isn’t the venue for that.  Anyone with half a brain would know this.

I’ll leave the post here for today.  It’s a short one, but QNUW will be back to its regular programming next week.  Look forward to it!

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