Nowadays, it is virtually impossible to go through your daily life without receiving some blunt-force messaging about diversity, about inclusion, about multiculturalism, and about justice for the oppressed. That this messaging is being delivered (and often ham-fistedly so) by people who don’t practice what they preach is so common that it has become cliche, and those of us not steeped in wokeness have reached an eye-roll level of lassitude in response to it all.

It’s beyond doubt that the competition for attention in our hyper-connected world inspires some to strive for ever-greater levels of outrage and “look at me” bravado (or, rather, Internet-muscle faux-bravery). It’s also beyond doubt that some who succeed in this vein wrap themselves in thick layers of smug as they do so.

By now you may have heard of Virginia Heffernan, the LA Times writer who translated an act of neighborliness into a terroristic aggression. She retreated from her Brooklyn digs to an upstate NY house offered up by her friends, to ride out the COVID pandemic, and after the recent snow storm, her neighbors, unbidden, cleared the snow from her driveway and “did a great job”).

Since those neighbors are (gasp!) Trump supporters, she had herself a full-blown conniption. And, because outrage is best when shared with the planet, proceeded not only to lace into them for the presumption of being neighborly, but actually compare them to Hezbollah, Louis Farrakhan, and French Nazi collaborators. And, then, had the unmitigated audacity to consider (nay, declare) that the courtesy done unto her was a first-step apology for their Trumpiness. With the caveat (of course) that they now throw themselves on their swords, admit their error, recant, and “[work] for justice for all those whom the administration harmed.”

Ho. Ly. Shit.

In prior times, I’d have assumed that this article was satire, that the author was mocking those whose Trump Derangement Syndrome was so severe that they lost the very ability to function normally in a society that includes people of divergent political views. Today, though, it’s obvious that this woman was seething with smug condescension as she banged out this stream of petty nastiness. I’m sure she felt she was showing the world just how twistedly evil Trump supporters are, and hit the “send” button with a pompous flourish.

I’m also betting she’s a bit shell-shocked at the broad backlash she’s received. Although, cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias being what they are, I figure she’s already rationalized it all as rooted in the same Trump-loving evil she sees behind every rock, and therefore not to be taken seriously.

Fortunately, Ms. Heffernan has done us a public service. She has reminded us of how nasty and hate-filled the bevy of social scolds that purport to lead us to a better society actually are. She, and they, offer us no reason to follow their lead, to think as they do, or emulate their supposedly better-than-us ways.

I’ve been puzzling as to the motives behind the current Trump impeachment. It was presented to us as a dire exigency to remove him from office before he could do some crazy shit in his last couple weeks, but after the House stampeded the Articles to Nancy Pelosi’s hands, she chose to sit on them rather than send them to the Senate for a quickie trial and vote. Now that Trump’s out of office, that exigency is gone, and there’s scant reason to continue the process (yeah, yeah, they claim they don’t want Trump to run again – hold that thought), why do this?

Ms. Heffernan offers us the answer. Pure vindictive rage, is all. Sure, there’s some political hay to be made – if he’s acquitted, as is near-certain, the Dems will have the Trump name to hang around the GOP’s neck going forward (and try to fracture the party thus), but even that’s small potatoes, given that their broader political actions and behaviors are apt to harden his supporters’ belief in his policies, and to remind the rest that they’re more dangerous, politically, than Trump was, even with the Capitol debacle considered.

Being of the political persuasion I am, it’s more common for me to find myself among politically disparate people than in echo-chamber homogeneity. In times past, I found common ground with both those on the Left and on the Right, and could even have amicable political discussions with them all. In recent years, however, I’ve found, more and more, that many who are politically active and on the Left can’t help but exhibit the sort of nasty aggression and spit-rage that we saw in Heffernan’s article. In other words, they’re no longer pleasant company, and so I spend less time among them. I don’t get that nearly as much from the Trumpy side. Sure, they’re full of their own rage, aimed at the political Left, but apart from that I’ve found them far more affable and likely to help you clear snow from your driveway.

You don’t win hearts and minds by being a nasty shit to people who’ve been nice to you. You don’t persuade, politically, by deciding that their acts of courtesy or kindness are born of malevolent intent. And, you don’t win converts by demanding they recant their past heresies before you’ll accept them back in your esteemed circles.

Oh, and Ms. Heffernan should ponder her own privilege. Not everyone has friends with country houses that are available for COVID-retreat purposes, and not everyone has neighbors who, unbidden and out of pure neighborliness, will clear snow for people presumably unused to dealing with it themselves. And, now, such acts of kindness may happen a bit less often, especially for those who embrace the rage and loathing that is a signature of modern social justice.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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