by James Como
Everyone must be engaged in our struggle.
Given our station and norms the struggle naturally includes dinner parties: first, we are exquisitely skilled at giving them, and, second, we can contrive the arena. (Say all you like about the ills of confirmation bias, but it feels so good.)
Now – and bear with me here – it feels even better if we invite a very few Deplorables: it’s edgy and diverse, and so exhibits both our confidence and our open-mindedness. They are the bigots, not us.
But it’s important to win. Here are ten ways (there are many others but these ten routinely test well and for us come naturally) to triumph. And, since Deplorables are accustomed to being in the minority and so are field-tested and feisty, we need all ten.
They are arranged in ascending order of aggressive desperation. But be sure to maintain our standard of good manners; in other words, remain condescending – even though number ten may require some posturing and exhibitionism (again, for us natural).
1. Never define your terms, or even try: we are not good at it. For example, “what do you mean by ‘life’?” is a dangerous question in the abortion debate, possibly leading to such absurdities as “well the sperm is not alive” or “the ovum is not alive,” both of which are false. We are on safer ground with ‘human life,’ but even that invites talk of fingerprints, DNA and the like. Best to say definitions are ‘pedantic’ or ‘just playing semantics’. “What do you mean by ‘fascism’? Really! How boring. This is party not a classroom.” Anyway, meaning matters less than feelings.
2. By-Pass. Your grievances matters more than any other so don’t bother with those. Instead, you set the agenda and the priorities. For example, the real threat of anti-semitism comes from white supremacists, not from elected members of Congress asking about The Benjamins, so that’s what you talk about. Pronouns matter more than fetuses, that sort of thing. This allows for “moving on” instead of downright denial, which could be tricky.
3. The One-Way Street. Having two sets of rules is not hypocrisy. Ted Kennedy was our Liberal Lion, even though he made some mistakes and a girl died, whereas Trump is a pig, pure and simple, even though he’s working an economic miracle. No, they can’t ‘mansplain’, but you (sister) can ‘speak truth to power.’ Deplorables incline to violence, but antifa violence against a Quillette reporter is “street protest” or even “performance art.” By the way, we know morality is subjective – “what’s wrong for you may not be for me,” that sort of thing: we are not ‘judgmental’ – except when judging Israel because, after all, the Hebrews invented judgment.
4. Fallacies: can be useful – and true, emotionally. If something is true of the whole, then it’s true of every part of that whole. Example: Whites are privileged, therefore every white person is privileged, no matter her or his struggles and deprivations, including you and those at your table.. Likewise, what is true of a part of a whole is true of the whole, as with that violent cop who beat up a defenseless kid, therefore cops are the enemy. Or take equivocation: shameful can become ‘bold’; urban terrorist can be ‘activist’; rabble rouser is ‘social organizer.’ Also remember to fudge on cause-effect: poverty causes violence, except for the poor who aren’t violent, having been saved by woke intervention; Trump causes white supremacy. Here note the basic premise: history begins when we say it does.
5. Brain Check. Do not “break that down” or “back that up.” Deplorables like to analyze and to demand reasons; do not play. Example: transgenders are good, so there is no need even to discuss the ethics of former males competing against females. The transgender choice must be ‘respected,’ even if others pay the price – especially if there are very few. Acceptance is absolute, and the small minority calls the shots. Evidence contradicting orthodox thinking must be ignored. So: check your brain at the door. Do not buy the “climate is changing but not apocalyptically” business. What’s the difference? Twelve years, five hundred: we are doomed if we do not re-distribute great swaths of wealth to cripple the hegemonic engines of poverty that cause climate doom.
6. Broaden the Brush. The fewer the distinctions the better. The Right is the Alt Right, period. That sort of thing. All Blacks suffer because of slavery so reparations must be for all of them. Again, use language that allows for no response, e.g. ‘imperialism’, ‘wealth gap’, ‘disempowered’, and the ever-reliable ‘rights.’ Note: Deplorables are too cunning too use the n-word, the b-word, the f-word, the other f-word (though we can all say ‘fuck’), the c-word (except when applied to the First Lady, of course), the w-word, the g-word, the s-word, the ch-word, and . . . that may be it – for now. Talk of movements not data.
7. Move the Goal-Posts. If one criterion isn’t working, switch. Example: #metoo matters, but when the news about MLK’s sexual depravity finally makes it over here, you say either “we heard that” (even if serial adultery differs radically from rape) or “he’s a martyr hero.” Unemployment used to matter, but not anymore – not since Trump is beating it. So: move the goal posts. If you claim that Deplorables are selfish (re taxes, for example) and they cite the data (first widely-reported years ago by Nicholas Kristof, of all people) that they give more than any through their churches, you say that is self-serving: “you’re just buying your way into heaven.” The same with support for Israel – about which, by the way, we are highly ambivalent. (We can signal our virtue by joining BDS.)
8. “I never heard that.” This implies omniscience (if you didn’t hear it, did it happen?) while suggesting a lie. Example: when confronting the moronic deniers of climate catastrophe who have any number of instances, even recent ones, of computer-model projections being false, you say . . . “I never heard that. Emphasize conspiracies (this works both ways: consistency is irrelevant: this is a dinner party) – always speaking of ‘belief in’ not ‘belief that.’ Then you can talk of conviction instead of fact. And beware: Deplorables (as I’ve suggested earlier) do read and they will mention ‘sources’, such as the End of Doom (wreaks havoc with computer models), The Myth of Hitler’s Pope (yes, the pope watched the roundup of Rome’s Jews, to see for himself before he acted, which he did immediately), or Left Illusions (oh yes, there certainly were Commies among us).
9. It’s all politics and its all personal. A direct challenge is hard to avoid, and umbrage is disarming. For someone as righteous (and as well-mannered) as you to resort to confrontation emphasizes your righteousness. So, yes, as Colbert said, Trump is Putin’s “cock holster” (for which he apologized, though to gays for denigrating fellatio, not to Trump). Remember that the personal can be subtle, as in “how could someone like you . . . ?” or, “you only say that because you’re a Catholic . . . “ or “how would you know how it feels to be . . . ?” (‘Phobia’ is very useful!) These are at least as effective as outright name-calling. Deplorables are conventionally religious; most of us are not. But that does not mean we are devoid of all religious sensibilities. We, too, have the intensity of commitment, of blind faith and the like, but for us it’s not pie in the sky, it’s politics. We are all perfectible here, salvation is available here. Heresy is punished.
10. Exasperation. Intense emotional sincerity is our meat, and feelings are irrefutable. Animosity marked by sheer impatience can be productive. Ostracism is just: the supercilious sneer, a dollop of incredulity. “You read what?” “You watch that?” “You don’t see . . . ?” “Oh, come on!” Finally there is umbrage: accuse – then stop talking. This can all be done reluctantly, lamentably, sorrowfully. This item usually requires a degree of exhibitionism: don’t be shy.
WARNING. Never invite more than two Deplorables to any one dinner, no matter how many guests you have. As I’ve tried to show, some of them know stuff. (It’s not all guns and bibles!) Also, we don’t actually know many Deplorables. Some of them are ‘nice’ and seem ‘kind’ and ‘good’: never let your surprise show – and do not be deceived.
Finally, have fun! The dinner-party is a microcosm of the community (what a lovely word: cannot be over-invoked!), of the nation, of the world, of life itself!