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Ingratitude Day

By Daniel M. Ryan
web posted November 26, 2018

It’s not all that often you find your heart warmed by Twitter, but Thanksgiving was one of those times. The tweets shown in the “Top? category for #Thanksgiving, #Thanksgiving2018 and #HappyThanksgiving, though replete with now-customary Twitter vanity, were predominantly well-wishing and giving thanks. The dominant majority of selfie-centric tweets included one or both. Naturally, there were a lot of food jokes and football jocularity. But there was also a lot of thankfulness. Overwhelming was thanks for a lover or for family and relatives. Twitter Inc. joined in by adding a turkey emoji that popped up when you liked a tweet, which added to the spirit. There was some original-tweet churlishness, as well as tweets aimed to co-opt or commercialize the holiday, but these were sparse as of last Thursday. The favourite spoilsport-tag was something called “ThanksLiving,? used by both vegetarians and BDS types, but the “Top?s showed few of those.

As an example, Meghan McCain posted a tweet saying:

Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours - I am grateful for all the service members who sacrifice for our freedoms so selflessly every day. Thinking of those who cannot be with their families today & those who this holiday is hard for. Happy Thanksgiving Dad, whenever you are. Miss you
The responses she got were overwhelmingly positive. Quite a few of them said “I didn’t agree with your dad’s politics? but nonetheless wished her and her family well.

Unfortunately, Nikki Haley’s was a different story. She tweeted out nothing more than “Counting our blessings...? with a few hashtags and a picture of she and her husband. The majority of the responses she got were supportive or well-wishing. But, there was a substantial portion of twits who threw anti-Israel or border-related snarks at her.

Worsely treated was Sen. Marco Rubio, who tweeted:

Outrage & scandal dominates the news because it attracts viewers & online clicks.

But everyday our fellow Americans are committing acts of kindness. Most never make the news.

I am thankful for the most generous, caring & compassionate people on earth, Americans. #Thanksgiving2018
He tweeted the above in response to a Mary Vought, who publicly thanked a UPS delivery person who went out of his way to make sure she received medicine critically needed for her daughter [likely insulin] that had to be refrigerated to stay potent. In context, Sen. Rubio was saying we should remember the honourable people who go out of their way to help and do good deeds. Rather than bashing the liberal media, he said that good-deed people get less press than they deserve because of a structural bias towards bad news. This critique - which was only subsidiary to Sen. Rubio’s point that we should be thankful that America is filled with “generous, caring & compassionate people? - has been a commonplace since the 1970s. Even lefty types have been fond of claiming that the media focuses on bad news in order to make the commercials and advertised products look better.

In Rubio’s case, the majority of response tweets were churlish. He did get some well-wishers, mostly religious, but they were outweighed by the type of tweeters who are apparently willing to disrupt a family meal to make a political point. This can be explained by Sen. Rubio being a serving Senator, but it does not explain the churlishness directed at Nikki Haley. She announced her resignation from the UN ambassadorship over a month ago, so she’s a lame duck.

There was a time when the Thanksgiving tradition meant setting aside politics and other controversial subjects to observe the holiday, which originally was a call to be thankful for our blessings. In a more religious age, this meant being thankful to G-d and mindful of the ways we’ve been blessed in life. In a more secular age, we’re called to remember that we all have had it good in some ways and that we should be mindful of the ways we’ve been helped.

Being thankful to a so-called “imaginary man in the sky? made the holiday more civil and less partisan. The entailing generality meant that pious folks could count any blessings, including the blessing of their families. An admirer of science could be thankful that our life expectancy is no longer 35-40 years. A combat soldier could be thankful that he returned alive, and be mindful of the others who didn’t. Non-coms could be thankful that “rough and ready men stood between them and the enemy.

Liberals and leftists could join in with “Let us be thankful for government? and leaving it there. Non-leftists needn’t be put out because “thankful for government? includes remembering that the government is the institution which keeps Hobbesian anarchy at bay. Back in the days when folks were more mindful of tradition, counting blessings in general and non-partisan ways was part of old-fashioned considerateness. The same considerateness shown by observing nil nisi bonum, if only by staying silent.

The deforming of both is mute evidence that ‘disruption’ of norms means degradation. Sadly, starting in the 1990s, there have been ideologues who have treated the obligation of courtesy and considerateness as “they let their guard down.? As any game-theory aficionado will breezily tell you, once the custom is breached then the fellow who holds to it becomes a sap.

There is of course a rationalization for ruining Thanksgiving, retconny though it is. There’s also a rationalization for the war on Christmas. But, there’s a noteworthy difference between the two. The drive to get people to say “Happy Holidays? instead of “Merry Christmas? is managerial. “Merry Christmas? is not bland enough. It has the potential to offend people who are not Christian. Hence, we need something bland, inoffensive and deracinated like “Happy Holidays.? The push to ablate “Merry Christmas? was officious, carrying a subtext of “don’t offend a colleague or customer.?

In contrast, the war on Thanksgiving has a personal, chip-on-the-shoulder air to it. So much so, that it’s a reasonable supposition that the ideological rationalization ‘liberated’ the people who find it hard to focus on the ways life has treated them well. Even if we’ve had it hard in the present, virtually all of us have had it easy compared to life in the past. There’s a type of person who looks at old photographs of men in chains, and won’t remember that he himself was never clapped in irons. There’s a type of person who grumbles about the crowded emergency room while forgetting that the hospital is obliged by law to treat him. There’s a type of person who looks at the grave of a great-great grandfather, great-great grandmother and their ten kids, eight of which did not survive to puberty, and only sees “injustice? instead of sibs and cousins who all survived past puberty. There’s the fellow who gets tunnel-vision angry over the tax rate while forgetting the higher rates of the past. And of course, there’s always the people who can’t see the blessings in their lives because they’ve set their sights too high.

All of these people have a vested psychological interest in turning Thanksgiving Day into Ingratitude Day.

Back in the bourgeois-capitalist age, there was a type of character who was known for “crying poor.? He was an affluent type who never tired of bemoaning how little money he had to spare. This fellow was not well-liked, especially in parts where the kids were raised with now-dormant sayings like “I pitied myself for having no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.? In our Big-Government managerial age, this type has been replaced by folks used to getting their way who cry “marginalized.?

Thankfully, as a lot of Twitter showed, there are still lots of folks who had a happy and thankful Thanksgiving. Even in this age, in which “liberated? is a euphemism for brutalized, it’s still possible for people to get into the spirit. If you’re fortunate enough to be one of them, you have one more thing to be thankful for. Merry pre-Christmas. ESR

Daniel M. Ryan, as Nxtblg, is spinning his wheels at Steemit.




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